To the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford tonight to see the opening night of the Ballet Central tour, and in particular Chris’s new ballet Capriol Suite. But even better, it meant that I got to see the lovely Carole Gable again after many years. It so happened that I worked briefly as a freelancer at Central School in what were probably two of the worst years (4 years apart) of my life from every point of view. But in the midst of all that horridness and insanity, Central School was a haven, a place of such warmth, talent, creativity and good humour that I think back on those years happily because of it.
And more than anything or anyone, Carole Gable kept me sane & laughing so much, it makes me smile just to think of her. Gorgeous to see her again. She didn’t want her photograph taken, but Chris and I just kept nagging her until she gave up.
I loved Capriol Suite. There are such extremes of tempo, harmony, metre, rhythm & timbre in a matter of just a few minutes, and Chris being the musical choreographer that he is, knows just what to do with them. There’s a girl’s solo which is a masterpiece of miniaturism or whatever creating miniatures is called – it’s over so fast yet so effectively that the shape of it is left in the air like smoke from a gun.
There’s a duet for two men which is majestic, intense and moving, a completely unclichéd relationship that is so glorious and equal you feel envious of the dancers. In the final ensemble, rhythms in the music, either real or potential, are mapped on the stage like a sonic cat’s cradle.
I was trying to work out why Chris’s musicality does it for me like almost no other choroegrapher, and I think it’s something to do with the way he deals with sustained notes. Where many would hear a beat, Chris seems to hear the acoustic envelope of the note itself, and a port de bras will play the air like a bow across a string. It’s instinctive, and natural, but it continues the flow of the music just when you’re afraid it might stop. At other moments, he does the opposite – pluck an accent in what appears to be an unaccented place, like a composer arranging a melody for both arco & pizzicato strings, giving a sharp onset to a note without destroying the line.
And (I should have started with this, I know) the dancers look fantastic – adult, dignified, musical, and convivial (like their choreographer, I guess). I’m pretty certain that it’s my favourite piece of Chris’s after Sinfonietta Giocosa). Yes, I know this is unspeakably biased and personal, but that’s what having a blog is all about.
Speaking of biased and personal, I’ll always have a soft spot for Ballet Central. Ever since I worked there, I’ve claimed that I can tell Central students a mile off, because they have a certain unaffected chivalry, generosity and maturity that is unmistakeable, and so far, I’ve never been wrong. Good luck with the tour!