Ballet Central review: Impressive technical skill that is exciting to watch

PUBLISHED: 10:06 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:06 03 May 2019

House of Birds, Ballet Central. Photo: Amber Hunt

House of Birds, Ballet Central. Photo: Amber Hunt

� 2018 Amber Hunt

James Goffin reviews Ballet Central at Norwich Playhouse.

Valse Nobles, Ballet Central. Photo: Arnaud StephensonValse Nobles, Ballet Central. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

This varied and engaging showcase from one of the country's leading ballet schools is a treat for ballet newbies and aficionados alike.

Comprising of five short pieces the pace and style varies wildly, from restrained traditional ballet through narrative dance to arch contemporary movement.

The opening excert from House of Birds is dark and disturbing, with Tessa Raby stalking the stage in angular twitching movements as Bird Woman, at times carried and moved marionette-like by the silhouette-figures of the Enchanted Boys. Natsuho Matsumoto and Joseph Beretta are technically sound as the Lovers, but lack chemistry.

In Between, Ballet Central. Photo: Arnaud StephensonIn Between, Ballet Central. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

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That gives way to an enchanting four minutes of solo dance from Mai Ito in Dying Swan – a simple but seductive piece, that is lyrically and deliciously executed.

Ensemble dance work In Between concludes the first half. This is bold, aggressive, visceral, and not a little confusing. The fast pace and working between obstacles on stage requires impressive technical skill and is exciting to watch. It is fluid, engaging, and enigmatic in equal measure.

The classical Valses Nobles feels out of place with the more ambitious pieces on the programme, and while there is nothing wrong with the performance it's a relief that it quickly gives way to the Technicolor delights of Carousel Dances: boy (Timothy Leckie) meets girl (Chelsea Wewege) at the funfair, and all sorts of hoopla ensues.

The two leads are particularly fun to watch, convincingly portraying their blossoming romance as well as delivering clean lifts and fun tumbles. Hula man Oliver Harrison brings some impressive circus skills to the stage, with the ensemble dance suggesting flying trapeze, strong man feats, and - of course - a carousel.

The 20 minutes rushes by in a blur of total joy.

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