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Thursday, June 16, 2011


(Craig Arnold)

Ballet lovers revel in excellent production presented by Mzansi Productions. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Somebody to Love is subtitled A Dance Celebration to the Music of Queen but it is also a celebration for many ballet lovers to see their favourite dance form on the local stage, their appreciation evident in the applause that accompanied well-executed movements.

The show is skilfully performed by the professional dancers of the Johannesburg-based Mzansi Productions. The director is Dirk Badenhorst who is also the CEO of the Cape Town International Ballet Competition.

At each performance, the Mzansi Productions dancers will be joined by members of the group of 15 Durban dancers who auditioned to be part of this production. They have been in training with Mzansi teachers and choreographers under the watchful eye of Nicole McCreedy, well-known for her work with the Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company which brought superb productions to Durban stages for many years.

Working with 18 of Queen’s greatest songs, which have been arranged for the production by Du Preez Strauss, choreographers Debbie Rakusin (African Footprint), Timothy Le Roux (also well-known to Durban audiences for his work with FFFDC) and Mari-Louise Basson explore the relationships and moods dictated by the songs.

The Mzansi dancers are skilled in both classical ballet and contemporary dance and have been drawn from the professional ballet and dance environment. Their work is impressive and standout performances came from Craig Arnolds and Michael Revie, who choreographed their own solos, as well as Kitty Phetla and Angela Maree.

Freddy Mercury stood for vocal power, showmanship and glamour. He’s a near-impossible act to follow and Du Preez Strauss has wisely tried not to copy but introduce new elements to Queen’s music that are suitable for ballet and contemporary dance movement.

Handling the vocals and interacting well with the dancers are Shaun V, Kerry Hiles and Anne-Marie Clulow, the latter shining in the second half, particularly with You Take My Breath Away and Barcelona.

Other highlights for me were Who Wants to Live Forever, We Are the Champions, The Show Must Go On and Bohemian Rhapsody

The setting is simple, relying on fabric panels –black and white in the first half with the company dressed in white and red and black in the second half with black costumes. While the lighting was excellent, the sound was way too loud.

Somebody to Love has a short run at the spacious and well-equipped iZulu Theatre at Sibaya until June 18. Book at Computicket. – Caroline Smart

Mzansi Productions will follow this production with “Divas: Of Music and Dance” which runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from June 22 to 26.