Scottish Ballet's 40th Anniversary
A triple-bill of celebration
They say life begins at 40, and looking at Scottish Ballet it’s hard to disagree. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the company has never looked better. A fantastic new home at Tramway in Glasgow, an impressive team of technically strong dancers and an autumn tour that is arguably their finest triple-bill to date.
Followers of the company will note that none of the works are new to Scottish Ballet, but all bear repeat viewing. At the 2005 Edinburgh International Festival, George Balanchine’s Rubies received a round of applause before a single step was danced, so beautiful are the costumes. Krzysztof Pastor’s In Light and Shadow proved a stunning closer at the 2006 Festival, while William Forsythe’s Workwithinwork was a dance highlight at this year’s Festival.
So, three former Festival works – all of which make huge demands on the dancers, but offer pure entertainment to the audience. ‘The programme features three very different examples of contemporary ballet,’ says Scottish Ballet’s artistic director Ashley Page. ‘Even though Rubies dates back to 1967, it was pushing the envelope in those days and everybody still finds it hard to do well, because it’s such a challenge. All three pieces are about dancing – there are no stories, no narrative element – and it’s nice to have a triple-bill like that.’
That said, for Krzysztof Pastor, there’s no such thing as a dance that’s completely devoid of narrative. Inspired by two pieces of music by Bach, In Light and Shadow may seem abstract on the surface, but underneath the shimmering costumes and explosive movement, lies a sea of emotion. ‘I think there is always something behind a dance,’ says Pastor. ‘Because it is performed by human beings, so there has to be a story or an interpretation.
Even the most abstract ballet is enriched with the human spirit – you can see the same work twice and it can touch you or do nothing for you, depending on how it is performed.’ Happily for Pastor (and Forsythe and Balanchine for that matter), his work is in safe hands.
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Thu 8–Sat 10 Oct; Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 15–Sat 17 Oct