Tuesday, 30 October 2012


New company, NeoBallet, performs its debut programme at The Place next week. Born in Argentina, artistic director Maria Clara Irisarri is much like the self-described ‘bloody-minded’ Tamara Rojo. With no funding, Irisarri is currently using her savings to run NeoBallet but has boundless determination and confidence. “I always wanted to choreograph, and I thought, what am I waiting for? I sometimes feel like I’m dying of a heart attack because of the finances… But I’m very ambitious – I’ll make it happen.”

NeoBallet’s debut show, LIFE!, has three acts encapsulating birth, life and death with film interludes in between dance and music segments. Exploring “a rollercoaster of emotions” through the eyes of a young girl, classical technique is combined with a diverse range of other dance styles and music in Irisarri’s choreography. With less than a week to go, the company is struggling mostly with costume malfunctions and a lack of time to change outfits between sections. But Irisarri remains positive: “If we don’t all make it onstage in time, someone can just do fouetté turns!” with the diversity of things, experiences, ideas, technologies and cultures we find in today’s world. The company utilizes the dynamics of classical ballet and takes them to a new dimension, a more athletic and daring way of movement and expression. As the world constantly evolves and changes, NeoBallet sees the need to change with it. The company finds its inspiration from everything and anything that exists or that doesn’t exist, from the mundane to the inexplicable and from the tangible to the imginary.

NeoBallet also aims to send the message that movement is directly related to a healthy lifestyle, and that the beauty of ballet technique is not restricted to a vastly underweight physique. The company’s choreographic style demonstrates that classically trained dancers are as fierce, strong and free and as they are graceful, elegant and precise.

Drawing from Maria Clara’s multifaceted background not only in the world of ballet but also in the media and arts, the company breaks the boundaries of the conventional experience of watching dance. Bringing visuals, movement, spacing, sound, fashion and design together in synergy, NeoBallet takes the audience through a shifting journey of senses and emotions.
For seven dancers, the ballet opens with robotic techno movements, evolving into passionate tango-inspired pas de deux and then confrontational and athletic contemporary dance. Although the ending symbolises death, Irisarri’s intention is to finish on a high note of release and optimism rather than sadness. “It’s about going back to raw feelings, letting go of petty arguments and realising that life goes on.”
Irisarri hopes that following performances the company will gain funding for a European tour. At the moment, she works part-time in an office as well as running the company; the dancers also have other jobs including teaching and modelling. They currently rehearse three times a week but Irisarri would like the company to run full-time eventually.
“I want ballet to be seen in a new way – fused with other arts and music to make it more commercial. I’d like NeoBallet dancers to model for fashion and sportswear brands and for the company to operate without arts funding, like Cirque de Soleil. I see us having a wider audience than just dance fans, including people who like film and live music. I want ballet to evolve into a more popular art form which people can relate to.

NeoBallet performs at The Place on 5th and 6th November.

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