“To know yourself, you must accept your dark side. To deal with others’ dark sides, you must also know your dark side.”
Tonight, with this piece, Ballet Cymru gives us a vision of utter loveliness in dance, in theatre and in purpose. Tonight, I cry with the utter elevated beauty of it all.
The dancers are beautiful, confident story-tellers and they revel in the simple stories they tell.
Exposed and discerning, gentle and strong, they seem so utterly happy out there under the lights. Oblivious to the likes of me, gazing at them with wet eyes.
The painfully perfect shadow of the Royal Ballet is cast and it serves to brighten our Ballet Cymru. This is the most gorgeous coupling. We can feel the reverence and respect and sense the raising of the game; we are in the presence of greatness and its impact: the lifts a little higher, the smiles a little wider, the precision of ballet in the arena of modern dance.
And danced to such music! Such mournfully sweet song. Just perfect. It reaches inside me and touches the soul in me.
Stripped, bare, tops and tunics against dark stone wall, it is just light on dance, lightness and dancers. All darks and lights and thoughtfulness.
Visually, aurally, this is just sublime.
Shadow Aspect starts with Jung so should end with Jung:
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
Thank you, Ballet Cymru, for striking the match.
Choreography By Tim Podesta
Music by French composer Jean-Phillipe Goude
With kind permission from www.icidailleurs.com
Stage design by Australian architect Andy Mero & Tim Podesta
Costumes Design Yukiko
Photo credit Jason Ashwood
Reviewed by Helen Joy for Get the Chance, Friday 3rd November, 2017.
(4 / 5)
Bonfire Night. Newport’s riverside is looking crystal sharp in the cold air and the backdrop of fireworks reflect in the still water of the Usk…a poetic start to the poetry of the Bard in motion.
Good ol’ Will. It’s a well-known tale and we have all seen many interpretations over the years. Ballet Cymru will mime and dance its way through the verse in this very smart and suitable location.
And it is quirky and funny and sad in all the right places. It is strangely lovely with pearl curtains and warehouse projections; costumes peculiarly appropriate to the setting and the story.
With clog dancing.
How could you not love the clog dancing? The thump of the wood on the floor as the orchestra roars into Prokofiev’s finest. The masks, the confidence, the arrogance of the piece. Startling, angry, manly, perfectly placed. I am not alone in loving this, this visceral interlude.
A hard line drawn against the softness of Romeo and Juliet, the continuum of life against the void.
And I have to say, I love the fight scenes. I can see that the love scenes are beautifully played out, the emotions expressed exquisitely in dance; but the fight scenes capture the sense of boyish adventure. Protagonists from families expectantly discordant run rings around each other, play-fighting until blood is shed. The boys are men. Tybalt commands the stage. Mercutio burns brightly and then, revelling in his wordy end, burns out. The swords are sheathed. The music, the movements are oddly exciting to this complex choreography and I can see eyes shining with some primal lust around me.
How does ballet do this? How can this carefully designed dance portray the random acts of a few hapless young folk so well? I ask a dancer, the Friar, what a certain move means – this apparent lifting of the arms of another: ah, it’s about domination, about instruction, about control.
It is all about control. It’s about putting words to movement; movement to music. It’s taking this extraordinarily gifted troupe of dancers and giving them a different language to speak. It is every inch of the body telling a love story, a tragedy, as beautifully and as elegantly as it can.
The dancers play their roles with finesse and candour. It is not an easy story to tell and they do tell it beautifully.
We leave to see the last of the fireworks explode over the town and kick the Autumn leaves a little before we go. And I ask my friend, what do you think? “Well, more memorable than conventional productions I’ve seen.’ Yeah. I’d go with that.
Huge thanks to Patricia Vallis and cast for making us all so welcome at The Riverfront, Newport.
Enjoyed: 5th November, 2016, at The Riverfront, Newport
Touring: November to December, see website for details
Lydia Arnoux Anna Pujol
Andreamaria Battaggia Allegra Vianello
Gwenllian Davies Dylan Waddell
Miguel Fernandes Daniel Morrison
Mark Griffiths Robbie Moorcroft
Artistic Director Darius James
Assistant Artistic Director Amy Doughty
Associate Artistic Director Marc Brew
Original Play William Shakespeare
Our project coordinator recently spoke to Gwen Davies, a young Welsh dancer with Ballet Cymru.
Hi Gwen, can you tell me how you got involved in your area in the arts?
I started dancing after a nursery teacher suggested to my parents to take me to ballet classes, because I was always active and loved dancing to music. At the age of four I took up classes locally in Cardiff at Chapter Arts Centre and then at 11 received a scholarship to attend Elmhurst School for Dance in Association with Birmingham Royal Ballet where i spent a further 7 and a half years training. I suppose I was immersed from a very young age in the arts and was lucky that my parents would take me to go and see various performances of all styles of art, from this I had an avid interest at a very young age.
You are currently working with Ballet Cymru, can you please tell us more about your relationship with the company?
I first got involved with Ballet Cymru after taking part in their Riverfront Summer Dance at the age of 8. After that I haven’t missed a single one of their summer school to date! I also took part in the workshops in Abergavenny which the company hold. Once I was training professionally the company were also really supportive in letting me partake in company class during the school holidays. I found it really helpful to be able to have access to professional standard classes from the age of 15. Something which is quite rare and it has definitely been invaluable to me in my development as a professional dancer.
Was there a moment when you thought this is the career for me?
I don’t think I have had one single definitive moment which made me decide it was the career path for me, but more the unfolding of events and opportunities I was given. I have always loved to dance but I don’t think I seriously considered it as a career until after I started vocational school in Birmingham where you then begin to have an understanding of the training and hard work required to make it professionally. Even then I think there is always an element of doubt as to whether you are actually good enough to make it after all the training. I think my mind was totally made up after getting more professional performing opportunities with Birmingham Royal Ballet. After getting a taste of working with the company when I was 17, in La Fille Mal Gardee and later Romeo and Juliet, there was no going back really. I don’t think I could find anything that could replace the feeling of performing to an audience especially when it’s with a live orchestra.
When you aren’t dancing or watching dance what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to watch rugby in my spare time and have been an avid supporter of Newport Gwent Dragons, and I make it down to Rodney Parade as often as I can to watch matches! I also enjoy going to watch live music and any other kind of performance art to be honest.
Are their any individuals or organisations that helped support you once you realised a career in dance was for you?
In Wales my biggest support came from Ballet Cymru. They were really helpful in giving me advice when I was auditioning for schools and companies and really valued the opportunities, and improved in their classes. I’ve also been really lucky to have some inspirational and supportive teachers in Birmingham which I definitely wouldn’t have succeeded this far without. I have also been very lucky in receiving funding from the Elizabeth Evans Trust towards my training and also Cardiff Council who also funded an invaluable trip for Ballet Masterclasses in Prague for a fortnight which I learnt incredible amounts from and was an amazing experience to work with so many other professional dancers from all over the world.
What are the opportunities for those interested in dance as a career in Wales?
There are many companies across Wales which offer workshops and have associate classes. Ballet Cymru being one of them for classical dancers, and also National Dance Company Wales offer associates which focus on contemporary dance.
How do we get involved in your dance projects?
We are touring Roald Dahl’s Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs across Wales this season, opening on May the 20th in the Riverfront, Newport and continue to perform until early July. It will be a really fun performance to watch and is great for all ages! The company will also be teaching workshops in some of the venues we are touring to so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved! We are also performing Romeo and Juliet for a small section of the tour in Portsmouth, Llanelli and Stevenage which will be a contrasting production to the more lighthearted Red Riding Hood.
Do you have any advice for anyone interested in following your career path?
To work as hard as you can but also to enjoy every moment of the process. It’s a career which requires a lot of determination and you will always encounter a lot of setbacks but the rewards always make every moment of perseverance worth it. I would also say to take every opportunity given to you, even if you think it might be relevant to what you’re interested in, but you would be surprised! I would try as many different styles of dance as possible but also to experience other art-forms to broaden your mind and experience something new. It’s always invaluable to have as much experience in anything you can, as you never know what will be thrown at you either in choreography or as a character in a production!
Thanks for your time Gwen
Here we have the gorgeous Gwen who is from Cardiff in Wales, just down the road! She is fluent in Welsh and is trying to teach us a few more words. Gwen trained at Elmhurst School for Dance #balletcymru #welshandproud #ballet #dance #dancersofinstagram #worldwideballet #rehearsals #romeoandjuliet #lifeofadancer #dancerslife #workinghard