Scottish Ballet’s Artistic Director, Christopher Hampson, fortunately chose Eden Court to premier Spring. Speaking to a packed house, including the great and good of Inverness and members of the Scottish government, he says, “as a company crafted in Scotland, it’s important to us to open our 50th anniversary season in the Highlands”. Eden Court pull out all the stops, with a live band, disco, fairy lights and flowers adorning the foyer, for the after-show party. The company of thirty-eight dancers (soon to be forty) take up the challenge and deliver a virtuoso performance of two works at different ends of the perceived ballet spectrum.
Opening this delightful double bill is a specially commissioned work, Dextera, by Resident Choreographer, Sophie LaPlane. Working in collaboration with Scottish Ballet Orchestra, she has chosen a selection of works by Mozart ranging from his 25th Symphony, to Cherubino’s Aria from the Magic Flute. With this, she has created a work of humour, complexity and hard-earned technique, developing a definite language and style of her own. This ranges from a moving pas de deux, Mea Culpa, danced by Sophie Martin and Thomas Edwards, to comic witty steps and claps involving gloves and coloured hands, statuesque moves, poses and cross-pollinating costumes.
The speed of the choreography and the stylistic moves are delivered with style and panache by the company. Never once does the energy lapse, driven by the brilliance of Mozart’s music and the terrific conducting of Holly Mathieson. At times, one wonders how the dancers cope with the fine detail required whilst working with harness and diamond sharp hand movements. The final slap dance, involving bongos and Mozart, deservedly rouses a standing ovation. This is a stunning new work from an emerging choreographer to be watched. Look out, Christopher Wheeldon!
The second part of the bill is a revival of Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations, first premiered by the Royal Ballet in 1974. After the exhausting process of creating Manon, this was a chance to have choreographic fun. The dancers clearly love both having the band on stage and wearing the crazy colourful costumes. This is a work of fast stylish choreography with every dancer on stage given a chance to shine. It is frothy and witty both contrasting and complimenting the previous piece in the first half. Having performed a new and exhausting new work, the company now switches focus to do justice to a modern and well-loved classic piece of fun. They do it with style and impressive technical ability, enjoying the relaxing interaction with the musicians. The Golden Hours, danced by Constance Devernay and Andrew Peasgood, is especially delightful.
Scottish Ballet have really come up with a box of delights for the launch of their 50th Anniversary season. There are more to follow we are told, with more commissions, and The Snow Queen at the end of the year. More in the Highlands please!