REVIEW BALLETRONIC, EDINBURGH FRINGE 2015, PLEASANCE COURTYARD

FRIDAY 21st AUGUST 2015

HOMEPAGE PAST REVIEWS 2016 PAST REVIEWS 2015

Balletronic advertises itself as “music by Avicii, Daft Punk, David Guetta, Sam Smith, Paloma Faith  & a little Chopin”.  It delivers all this, but does not explain the link between them all and that is where the problems seem to start for many of the younger members of the audience (certainly some I was talking to at the end of the show) as they seemed to be expecting a far more up to date “club type” experience, and Balletronic is definitely not that.


The link between everyone is legendary producer Giorgio Moroder who at 73 years of age is back in the studio working with these young artists.  Giorgio Moroder is, to anyone not familiar with his huge catalogue of work and artists he has worked with (just Google the name), the man who in the 1970s/1980s  produced a unique and instantly identifiable “Disco” sound…probably best known for “I Feel Love” by “Donna Summer”.


Balletronic is pretty much a homage to the unique sound of Giorgio Moroder over the years and the clue is right at the very beginning with the voice-over introduction (“My name is Giovanni Giorgio Moroder, but my friends call me Giorgio”). We have another little clue from the voice-over about Giorgio sleeping in his car in Germany in the early days and discovering his unique “click sound” on music.


Balletronic is a merging of talented musicians and dancers from Havana, and as well as that Havana rhythm they bring other musical influences such as Chopin to the performance.


This is a very carefully worked out performance set to an almost dream like space as much of it is centred around a sleeping person on a sofa.  I am going to put my own view on this and hope that it is right.  Our sleeping starts against back-screen visuals of clocks and ends with them.  Our sleeper (well two actually, a female dancer as well and love interest for the man) appear to wake up and interact with the various musical and ballet sequences.  To me, the sleeper is Giorgio Moroder imagining the sounds of his music coming to life and meeting his love/muse at the same time.  This vehicle of placing yourself on a couch to wake up and imagine your own music is an old idea – The composer Berlioz uses the very same in “Lelio” the work he produced to explain his “Symphonie Fantastique” (both performed at The Usher Hall recently).


There are some very talented musicians here (an outstanding violinist) and some very good dancers.  There is one sequence with the dancers attached to what appears to be black ribbons or bands...could this dream like sequence maybe represent recording studio tape loops?


We have a huge mix of influences going on here – vocals to songs such as “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith and “Ready For Love” by India Aire, Cuban rhythms, at times almost Celtic rhythms, disco, Chopin and some other influences, but the thing that holds nearly everything together is Giorgio Moroder who is somewhere involved in most of the music in this performance.


Costume wise, choreography wise, general performance wise, by the very nature of the subject matter, this show looks and feels more 1980s “disco homage” than the cutting electronic/techno sound that I think a younger audience expected, but for myself (being old enough to remember just how different “I Feel Love” first sounded), it is a great show to one of music’s great innovators.  As well as still working with contemporary artists, the music of Giorgio Moroder is everywhere as he is one of the most sampled artists in music history.


I liked this show a lot, it is one of my favourites from this year’s Fringe, but it is a bit a victim of its own advertising.


I would love to see this show again and in a bigger theatre where the sight lines are better. From where I was sitting at the back rows, it was difficult (and not possible) at times to see the dancers right at the front of the performance area, and that was a pity as the dance and the music were so carefully choreographed.  Also, although it would cost a lot more in performing rights fees, I would love this show to be expanded to take in more of the music of Giorgio Moroder.


Coming from Havana, Balletronic of course reminded us all of just how important that Latin (and often Cuban) sound influence was to that Disco Sound.


Balletronic does for me exactly what the advertising states, the music of the artists mentioned with a ballet set to the elecTRONIC sounds of Giorgio Moroder.  I can however understand that “TRONIC” definition means something a bit different to a younger clubbing audience who could be expecting something far different and much more like a club experience.  For me, it was a perfect show combining some of my favourites – ballet, the music of Giorgio Moroder and that classic early Disco sound.


A great show.  If you are old enough, go and hear how modern artists are still developing the “Moroder” sound...if you are not old enough to remember his influence first time round, go and see how the man and his music are still influencing what you hear, but do not expect something that you would hear and see in a club.  Let’s not forget the amazing dancers either.


Balletronic have a Facebook page too at
https://www.facebook.com/Balletronic

Review by

Tom King

 

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