Trip The Light Fantastic
Image: Rahi Rezvani.
With variety being the spice of life, there was never a dull moment during the opening night of the Royal New Zealand Ballet's blistering triple bill Speed of Light at the Isaac Theatre Royal. Sure the mercury was sitting high last night, but that was nothing compared to the inferno of en-pointe perfection radiating off the stage as their triumphant trifecta of contemporary ballet classics Selon désir, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Cacti (pictured) unfurled.
Comprising three 30-minute sets and two intervals, Speed of Light delighted with its frenetic, fast-paced action, set to an astounding soundtrack. Minimalist staging in the first two performances, save for some genius lighting, ensured the focus was kept clearly on the ferocious talent on stage, while a few key pieces (white faced boxes, cacti, one cat and more of that genius lighting) in the finale brought performance art to dizzying new heights.
Riffing on 'hell is a teenaged girl', the first entry – Andonis Foniadakis’s Selon désir – unleashed a frenzied storm of wildly whipping hair and twirling pleated skirts (on the boys too!) in a uniform showcase of ballet as you’ve not seen it before, complete with writhing and perfectly nuanced and executed performances working singularly and simultaneously.
The centrepiece, William Forsythe’s aptly-titled In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated teamed a booming electronic soundtrack with sexually-charged, volatile and violent dance carried out with machine-like precision. Breathlessly engaging, the talented troupe’s assured technique and finesse gave what is clearly a difficult performance an effortless zeal.
Reaching the crescendo, Alexander Ekman’s Cacti brought the house down with its cunning blend of clever propping, across the board performance perfection, sly wit and a cheeky self-awareness. In lesser hands this could have seriously tanked, but Ekman set a strong course through uncharted terrain, allowing the dancers to truly embody the piece, own the stage and take the audience along on the rapturous ride accompanied by the New Zealand String Quartet.
A tour de force destined to dance on in the minds of those lucky enough to see it.
Speed of Light runs for a limited season with just two shows left at the Isaac Theatre Royal on tonight and tomorrow (11 – 12 March) – don’t miss out!
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