BALLET, CAPE TOWN: Cape Town City Ballet presents SATORI, Artscape Theatre Centre, October 26 to November 9.


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Trilogy of works – presented as part of Cape Town City Ballet Spring Season 2019.

CONCERTO BAROCCO– George Balanchine’s ballet © The George Balanchine Trust, Cperformed to a score by Johann Sebastian Bach Staging by Diana White of the George Balanchine Trust. White works with companies around the world, staging Balanchine’s works, adhering to strict specifications as laid down by trust. For example, costume designs are copyrighted to the Trust and are replicated as per his original designs.

Lighting design for this staging is by Wilhelm Disbergen – again as per specs of the Trust.

SHEEPLE– Choreography and costumes by acclaimed choreographer, Michelle Reid.

Lighting design– Wilhelm Disbergen

POLARITY– Choreography and costume design by Kenneth Tindall

Lighting design: Wilhelm Disbergen

Exhilarating to watch this triple bill, presented by Cape Town City Ballet.

I was unable to be at the opening last night (Saturday October 26) and attended the matinee today (Sunday 3pm). Sadly, the house was not full. City pubs were full with celebrations of us scoring in the Rugby World Cup semi in Japan. The rain was pounding down. Please don’t be put off by diversions this week. Make an effort to get to this beautifully curated programme of three ballets.

First up is Concerto Barocco. The genesis of the ballet goes back to when Balanchine devised the ballet as “an exercise” for the School of American Ballet. Concerto Barocco was one of three ballets on the programme of New York City Ballet’s first performance in 1948. For more, see

According to the Balanchine Trust: “In the first movement of the concerto, the two ballerinas personify the violins, while a corps of eight women accompany them. In the second movement, a largo, the male dancer joins the leading woman in a pas de deux. In the concluding allegro section, the entire ensemble expresses the syncopation and rhythmic vitality of Bach’s music.”

So from 1948 to 2019 and here we see it staged by Diana White – the official emissary of the Trust – and it comes across as utterly contemporary, edgy and precise. I have not seen this ballet before so cannot compare. The precision of the dance formations is immaculate. They wear costumes as designed by Balanchine. In 1951, he changed the design of the costumes that he used when the ballet was first staged. In 1951, he robed the dancers in practice clothes- which was regarded as very “modern”. He stripped away the costumes and let the dance talk. Concerto Barocco is an essay in the artistry of dance.

In the programme notes, Michelle Reid describes Sheeple as a derogatory noun – plural noun – sheeple – people compared to sheep, in being docile, foolishly easily led. It’s a compilation of sheep and people. We follow; acquiescent (I like that word). As with the Balanchine ballet, there is a stunning sense of precision as the dancers move across the marked up stage- slipping, sliding, and thronging across the space. The piece pinged for me against Enemy Behind the Gates by Christopher Huggins which was staged in June/July 2019 by Cape Town City Ballet.

There is a sense of the military as groups of people are not only following mindlessly as sheep but perhaps following orders as they fall into columns across the stage. It is a very disturbing piece to watch with images of boots cavorting across that stage. Years ago when I first saw a work by Michelle Reid, I went – wow and again I am gasping at her ability to conjure up chilling imagery through dance. I would like to see this performed with a live band.

Polarity is a newly staged work by UK choreographer Kenneth Tindall. It was commissioned by Cape Town City Ballet. That is something which is worthy of a bravo of a shout-out to CTTB CEO Debbie Turner and her team. It is all happening in Cape Town. In the programme notes, Tindall reflects that polarity is “inspired by the suggestion that opposites are interconnected and everything is dual. So things that appear to be opposites are actually inseparable parts of the same thing…” It is a striking ballet – intensely conceptual piece – bodies interacting – pulling apart; coming together, emerging and dissolving.

Wilhelm Disbergen’s lighting is like a character as he delineates the the push and pull of bodies polarising – splitting, diverging, coalescing.

Disbergen is lighting designer for the entire triple bill but with Polarity, he is given reign to conjure up space/landscape through light. There is no set but his lighting design frames each scene with a visual narrative which transects with the figures on stage- archway becomes column; becomes strident strip of neon reminiscent of a night club.

Cape Town City Ballet’s Satori theatre advisory

Tickets: R150 to R300.

Bookings: Computicket on 0861 915 8000, or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet.

?: Cape Town City Ballet’s 2019 Summer Season – December 14 to 24 at Artscape Theatre with South African dance veteran Veronica Paeper’s staging of A Christmas Carol – The Story of Scrooge