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Northern Ballet’s Perpetual Motion – Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds

Choreographers: Christopher Hampson, Kenneth Tindall, Daniel de Andrade, David Nixon OBE

Costumes: Julie Anderson, Hannah Bateman, Carley Marsh

Reviewer: Katie Lee

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

Northern Ballet presents a showcase of four pieces, including new work and excerpts from their upcoming shows, in their purpose built performance space, the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre.

The first section, Perpetuum Mobile, is accompanied by JS Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major. A traditional sequence led dance with wide smiles; this joyous introduction is filled with entrances and exits to create short sections showing off each performer’s skills through duets and trios. With very few lifts and minimal close partner work, this is really an individual’s dance that keeps you guessing. Halfway through the lighting dims, the smiles fade and we are treated to a gentle, emotional duet that powerfully contrasts with the rest of the piece.

Project #1 follows, presenting the real jewel in the evening. A contemporary piece involving moving same sex duets, this section is slower paced, contemplative and emotive. An erratic soundtrack moves through beats and emotionally charged songs to support the expressive floor work. Particularly moving was the latter half, in which two males and a female dancer portray a heartfelt performance, with close body contact creating striking shapes and forms in the simple spot lighting (Alistair West).

After the interval arrives Glass Cannon, a cheeky chorus led composition with gold paisley outfits and a middle-eastern melody. Clapping, clicking and intermittent shouts exacerbate the fun and whimsical innuendo. An increasing number of strips of light provide an original template for the challenging male group segment. Most delightful was the curtain call, in which the choreographer (Daniel de Andrade) appeared in a shirt matching the costumes.

Switchovers between pieces were filled with musical interludes performed by Joanne Rozario on saxophone with Grant Green on piano. This set-up conjured a cabaret feeling and helped the evening flow smoothly despite being made up of four contrasting dances.

Green is joined by Chris Hobson in providing live accompaniment to the final section, an excerpt from the upcoming I Got Rhythm. Rozario opens the section beautifully with a precise clarinet solo. Performed to the Gershwin melody of the same name, Rhapsody in Blue is an exhausting piece led by the music, with the dancers following behind. A staccato mating dance in elegant dresses, this piece uses the females as puppets, carried around by their male partners. Respite is felt when the piece eventually breaks down into solos and duets, as the stage seems too small to accommodate the action of all ten dancers at once.

I was impressed by the diversity and complexity of this mixed programme. The studio theatre venue provides the opportunity for a far more intimate performance than at the Grand, and left me utterly captivated.

Runs until 18th February

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The Public Reviews was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.