Phil Hopkins, Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent

Powerful And Innovative The BBC? Absolutely!

Ballet British Columbia is a happy contradiction that has just lost its virginity with UK audiences.

This exciting, physical company is a fascinating hybrid that on the one hand carries the word ‘ballet’ in its name, and yet is clearly rooted in innovative contemporary dance.

Powerful angular moves sit side by side with female dancers en-pointe, and just as you think you are about to get an extended display of classical technique, there is a twist, a turn and the choreography takes you down a wonderful rat run to the unexpected.

There were three pieces last night including artistic director Emily Molnar’s 16+ a room, a cryptic but dynamic performance lasting just 27 minutes, with a thumping, driving musical composition by Dirk P Haubrich, that galvanises your emotions and, somehow, leaves your heart racing as if you have been to the core of yourself. “Ooh, I was exhausted watching it,” said one lady.

At the interval I asked choreographer Molnar what it was about. She was quick to reply: “What did you see?” And therein lies the mystery of contemporary dance. Half its appeal is sheer power, often its perceived manifestation of something within; raw emotion. There isn’t a story, often just an awakening of the audience’s senses and movement that communicates to that part of us that doesn’t have eyes.

‘16+ a room’ looks at the human construct, our shape, our movement, what we are and what drives us, and ‘Bill’ Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s final piece was just fantastic with its quirky, robotic automans on stage, repetitive, tribal and, at times, almost frightening.

It is Ballet British Columbia’s first UK tour and they arrive with a fresh perspective taken from another part of the world that is not of the Euro dance tradition

Powerful, innovative and dramatic, they set an incredible high standard and have raised the ballet barre still further, even though these contemporary athletes wryly cock-a-snook at classical dance as they leap over it.

Tonight, their punishing UK tour comes to an end. Go see them but dine well before you hack across to Bradford’s Alhambra. You will feel exhausted at the end of the performance, never a bad thing in the run up to Sunday morning. You can delude yourself into thinking that you’ve exercised well and earned your food when, in fact, the BBC will have merely played their part in taking your emotions for a marathon jog!

Ballet British Columbia
Last chance tonight.