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Tuesday, July 7, 2015


 Impressive moment from "Le Sacre"

(Reviews from te artSMart team currently in Grahamstown at the 2015 National Arts Festival)

Impressive double bill showcasing the considerable talents of the company.

Renowned dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky worked for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The original production of his Le Sacre du Printemps/The Rite of Spring was presented in Paris in 1913.

Years later, John Neumeier, choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet, drew on his fascination with Nijinsky to create his own version of this ballet. Titling it Le Sacre, it was an interpretation that shifted attention from its original focus on a pagan Russian rite to observe man’s capacity for aggression and self-destruction.

Several movements of Spring and Fall were created for the Nijinsky Gala XVII in 1991.

Presented by the National Arts Festival in association with the Cape Town City Ballet, the double bill of Spring and Fall and Le Sacre appeared on the Main programme of the 2015 festival.

Guest producer for the Cape Town City Ballet is Victor Hughes who has put together an impressive double bill showcasing the considerable talents of the company.

From the opening of the double bill, there were impressive scenes in silhouette – nervy time for dancers because this process highlights every single move or body posture. Exciting group choreography almost resembles chess manoeuvres with a seamless and innovative flow in changing of grouping. There were impressive performances from principal dancers Laura Bosenberg and Thomas Thorne.

If one was impressed with the company’s performance in Spring and Fall, Le Sacre pulls out all the stops. The feel is arcane, primeval, aggressive and angular as opposed to the first’s piece’s elegance and eloquence. It is well to remember that Nijinsky was a disturbed soul and spent much time in mental hospitals.

Skin-coloured garments added to the primitive feel. A memorable moment saw the dancers merge into a grouping that reminded one of a massive sea anemone while another resembled a giant centipede. There is much mayhem of flailing arms and contortions. Frenetic warlike movements build up to an incredibly explosive and powerful scene.

If the production had stopped at this point, I guarantee the audience would have raised the roof in tumultuous approval. These scenes had reached such an impossibly high point that it was difficult to adapt to the rest of the work which dealt with the sacrifice. While the choreography became less adventurous and somewhat repetitive, this sequence was excellently performed by Sarah Lee Chapman who handled these final moments superbly.

Working from John Neumeier’s design, the lighting for both productions was superb. Dvorak’s evocative score (Spring And Fall) is lush and sweeping while Stravinsky’s music (Le Sacre) is powerful, explosive and unrelenting. – Caroline Smart

The Cape Town City Ballet is to perform Thumbelina in association with the KZN Midlands Youth Ballet Company on July 8 and 9 at the Hilton College Theatre. Visit

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