Thursday, 12 January 2012

Strictly Exuberant

Strictly Gershwin, English National Ballet, London Coliseum – reviewed on 8th January

English National Ballet combines classical technique with ballroom, jazz and tap dance in their latest production at the London Coliseum. Strictly Gershwin was scaled-down from its Royal Albert Hall version for a national tour, but the vibrant and infectious rhythms still shimmer.

The Gershwin score provides the main attraction and is played enchantingly by the onstage orchestra of English National Ballet. Conductor Gareth Valentine is a charismatic performer, engaging the audience in music-only interludes with charming and humorous boogying. Costumes by Roberta Guidi di Bagno are similarly excellent, with vibrant colours and plenty of sparkle creating a visual spectacular onstage.

Rhapsody in Blue
Photo: Annabel Moeller
In comparison to such powerful music and designs, the choreography by Derek Deane at times appears underdeveloped. Long sections drag on with repetitive and uninspired movements, but other moments of brilliance make the show a success.

At the popular Sunday matinee, a number of dancers excelled. In the Overture, Shiori Kase was as glittering as her costume, radiantly jumping and spinning with partner Yonah Acosta. Erina Takahashi and Esteban Berlanga demonstrated a beautifully lyrical fervour in The Man I Love, and Laurretta Summerscales and Daniel Kraus performed a balletic tango with gusto. The whole company delighted in a tap routine to Lady Be Good.

Deane’s choreography needs sharpening but ENB radiate in this feast of music, glitter and exuberance. And the Gershwin tunes can’t fail to leave you smiling and humming all the way home.

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