Review of Ballet First’s Show – 2019 by Kerry Barnes
Composer / Pianist / Broadcaster / Classical Writer
“WOW” What a night!!! Another fantastic success for BALLET FIRST and their amazing Principal, Theresa Crumb.
From the get-go we were gripped by the opening phrases of Prokofiev’s Cinderella score with its astringent harmonies and angular, darting melodies.
Every dancer played their role beautifully and the whole show was abundant with talent, none more so than Lucy Pearce! Boy oh boy this girl is going places! She was stunning from beginning to end and very much reminded me of another of Theresa’s protégé’s Rym Kechacha. Lucy’s deportment and exquisite alignment never lost its ‘top line’ and hand shapes were always held. I’d like to say at this point that all the girls were lovely but there are just too many for me to comment on. Ian Ross has to be a favourite and it felt lovely to have a little chuckle with the rest of the audience, he was a brilliant ugly sister!!! A magic trick took me by surprise as a hunched black-caped figurine disappeared seamlessly into the black stage curtains. (Fairy godmother in disguise Yasmin Chaschina)
This first act of Cinderella took us to the interval and what a wonderful and varied second half!
A real treat for this packed full house to experience a diverse range of musical composers! (Including me!). The Yundi Li Duet was extremely beautiful danced by Pearce and Chaschina and almost sounded like 4 hands at one piano, just lovely.
Crumb’s choreography is second to none always, and I can’t help thinking how lucky we all are to have her in Harlow rather than London. Same as the celebrity Harlow harpsichordist and professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Very fitting that Lucy Pearce has gained a scholarship to study at Kings Dance College (and a place at Ballet West, Scotland) and I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing her all the best as she takes her place in September. As for her dancing the Sleeping Beauty Aurora solo I would have ‘camped out all night’ to see this, a young lady in Nureyev’s body! The circular leaps were outstanding!! Breath-taking stuff.
I was most proud of the little “Sunbeams”, what a sunny spectacle to witness. The whole stage seemed to be bathed in a golden hue and they really bought my music to life! Thank you little ones!
It is a measure of the woman, that Theresa was still rehearsing them minutes before curtain up. What dedication to the art. A little girl sitting next to me couldn’t hold back her excitement and was transfixed by the creative assault on her senses. If her mum wasn’t holding her I’m sure she would have climbed onto the stage to join in!! Like a horse held back in the holding pen before a race!
Talking of ‘Horses’…………..Lucy, Robyn, Yasmin and Elanore excelled in depicting the equine grace of the “Wild Horses” Contemporary piece. Most captivating indeed. Coupled with the spine-tingling vocal of Susan Boyle, this will stay with me forever. (My mum also agreed.)
No ballet is quite complete without some Tchaikovsky and he didn’t disappoint. It was thrilling to hear his music coming through the excellent sound system of the Rhodes Theatre.
Thank you Theresa for your festival of dance, drama, music, colour and flowers, and I for one think you deserve a year off in the Seychelles……actually make that two!!!
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The whole performance was taken up a level, with the Guest appearance of former BALLET FIRST pupil now professional – Mandy Waller in the Contemporary Solo of Crumb’s choreography to the Instrumental version of ‘Lost without you’ by Freya Ridings. Waller danced exquisitely with accomplished technique, artistry and musical nuance which was breath-taking. An inspirational performance indeed and an example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.