DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 11-Wed 12 May
The assassination of Martin Luther King is one of history’s most tragic events, but for Arthur Mitchell it was something of an epiphany. A principal dancer with New York City Ballet for many years (the first African-American man to take up such a role), Mitchell was heading for Brazil to open a dance school in 1968. Upon hearing the news of King’s death, he decided it was time to do something for the kids back home instead. Setting up shop in a church basement, Mitchell offered the children of Harlem an alternative to hanging around on street corners. His dance classes were so successful that he was offered funding to start a company, and in 1969 the Dance Theatre of Harlem was born.
Thirty five years, countless awards and numerous international tours later, Mitchell’s company has finally reached UK shores. Performing a triple-bill of exciting works spanning three decades from the early 705 to late 90s, this is our first chance to see a company that has had an incalculable influence on American dance. Drawing from the
same neo-classical style as New York City Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem has a repertoire as multicultural as its performers. The three works being presented in Glasgow, Doug/a, Firebird and Return are, according to erstwhile dancer with DTH, Donald Williams, ‘a perfect
example of the company’.
Williams joined Mitchell’s company in 1977 and has danced all three works many times. Created in 1974 by Geoffrey Holder, Doug/a was one of DTH’s early hits. ‘When Hindu and African meet, their offspring are called Dougla,’ Williams explains. ‘So the piece is a mix of ballet, Hindu and African dance; it’s a joyful celebration of union.’ For 1999’s Return, choreographer Robert Garland fused the company’s usual nee-classical ballet style with urban dance, and set the whole thing to a
ROYAL NEW ZEALAND BALLET
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Tue 4-Sat 8 May; Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 11-Sat 15 May.
They can’t help being Kiwi’s
68 THE LIST 2E) Apr—‘15 May 200.:
King sized ballet
cracking soul soundtrack. ‘Return brings in audiences of all ages because a lot of the older people grew up listening to James Brown and Aretha Franklin, and the younger people are happy to see ballet done to popular music, be it old or new.’
Closing the programme is Firebird, the company’s
When you think of Romeo 8 Ju/ret. a nurnbtn of films sprint; to rnrnd: l’r/est Side Story, Franco z'effrvelli's ()scar winning classic. Ba/ 1 uhrrnann's urban reinvention. But The Mat/rt He/oaded’.’ Surely not. Yet surprisingly. Manchester-born (:ll()r()()t;l’£tl)l‘_t}r Christopher l-larnpsov‘. found inspiration in all four rnoyres during the (Il(3£tlt()ll of his ballet. Invrted by Royal New /eaiar‘.d Ballet to stage Romeo 8 Julie for the company's 50th anniversary celebrations last year, llarnpson wanted to keep rt rear. I." every sense. Swashbucklrng swords lust won't cut 't with today's audience. y'rhereas Keanu Reeves' futuristic actlor‘ flick held I re key to a more believable form of Violence.
'I looked at the martial arts and streetfighrng in The Matrix and thought that's the route forv.rard_' l larnpson explains. "Because today. sword fighting looks like fencing ~ ar‘d that's a sport. no one dres. So we looked at flick knives and broken bottles. tables and chairs. things which would make the audience actually care whether a
signature piece choreographed by John Taras in 1982 and featuring 24 dancers. Based on the original Ballets Russes work, DTH has updated the action from a Russian forest to a lush tropical island. From African drums to urban funk to colourful theatrics — as triple- bills go, it’s pretty impressive. ‘It really does run the gamut,’ agrees Williams. ‘And it gives a real flavour of what the company is like. We try and give an audience something for everyone.’ (Kelly Apter)
character got hurt.’ llar‘rpso" has also taker: the sharp characterrsat:o'r o" Xeffrrellr's frlrn and the streety'r se feei of lahrrviann's to create a trvnezess ballet that cou'd be set anyy'xhere between 1911:)» [0. ‘I think films are a great starting porn’. for story balietsf he says. 'You can take a narrative ‘.‘./.".I(Z’l has already been through the Hollywood facto'y. part cularly Shakespeare. and they 'y'e do're a'l the editing. tl‘ey "ye pared rt < ow" y'xhrcl‘, fo' dancers exactly what you "ee<l.'
As well as perf )'lll'l‘§] Shakespeare's tragic loye story. m its first ever yrst to the UK the Royal New /ea'and Ballet w." also be presenting; a dynarnx: triple bill. .Jav'er De l rutos' r‘t/lr/agros is a y'rhrrlrr‘p, fast paced y'rork set to Stravnsky's [he Rite of Spring. Mark Baldy‘xin's / r/ N/y' rs a crowd pleaser pay'ng homage to the Y‘lllf;l(2 o‘ fellow Kiwis. Splat l n/. And l larnpson also contributes S.'z/!.'.=.'e//o. a fla'nboyart‘. dance created specially for RN/B. a company wh (:l‘ he \.'-.'ar'nly describes as ‘rnuredrtﬁy versatile and very soec-al'. rKel'y' Aoterw
Re: Tread/rig the Boards
Fergus Steps Out
THE OFTEN STRIKINGLY visual and rather magical theatre company Lung Ha’s has established a splendid reputation for mixed ability theatre over the last decade, so its latest show might well create anticipation for those who know the company. But changes have been afoot in recent times, with buccaneering Aussie theatre practitioner Clark Crystal taking the artistic reigns. So the latest creation of this inventive bunch, Fergus Steps Out, has a little extra interest. Crystal has combined creative duties with Grace Barnes, media pundit and author of several plays (you might remember Lavender Blue at the Lyceum a couple of years back) for what looks an interesting piece on the future and the imposition of conformity. In it we see Edinburgh on the verge of the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 2030 (no shortage of satire, then) in a world where everyone conforms in punctuality, behavior and social mores. Everyone except one young girl. It’s a theme that might be close to the hearts of people with disabilities, but it should be closer to all of our hearts. It starts at the Traverse from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th May.
YOU MIGHT ALSO BE wondering about those Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland that Whispers flagged up last week. If yOU want more information. there's an informative public websne available at httpzr Iwww.scottishtheatre awardsorg. WhiCh performers will follow in the footsteps of last year's wrnners Alexandra Mathie and John Kazek? What wrll follow Out/me Islands as best new play? Your browser can tell you more.