Performances tonight were introduced at the beginning by Scottish Ballet’s own artistic director Christopher Hampson and there were a lot of things going on as well as tonight’s performances. October 1st is World Ballet Day and Scottish Ballet were going to be involved in that, also, sadly for everyone, tonight would be the last professional performance from principal dancer Erik Cavallari as he was retiring from stage to take up studies at The University of Vienna.
There was also an additional piece of work starting things off that was not in the main programme - “Maze” by choreographer Sophie Laplane (who was also dancing later in Elsa Canasta). This work featured four dancers with music by Nick Cave, Minologue and Xela, (I have to admit only knowing of Nick Cave here) and I liked this a lot. The opening sequences with two male dancers actually reminded me a lot in parts of movements in older “Katas” from traditional styles of martial arts. I think Scottish Ballet have their own rising choreography star here.
The second piece tonight “Motion of Displacement” by Bryan Arias is based on his mother’s own sometimes perilous journey from El Salvador to the USA and is a very visual and thought provoking piece – especially when performed with dancers that include Sophie Martin and Eve Mutso. This work also features music by John Adams and Johann Sebastian Bach. I have to admit a huge liking for the always beautiful music of Bach, and when it is also fluid music like this it just fitted the beautifully fluid choreography of this work perfectly.
The major billing of the evening was of course “Elsa Canasta” by Javier de Frutos. This work also features the music of Cole Porter, so a combination of his wonderful music and Scottish Ballet’s wonderful dancers was always going to be an interesting combination to me. I love pieces like this that combine different forms of the arts together.
I was interested to read in the programme that Cole Porter had originally presented his friend Diaghilev (whom he financially helped at times) with a jazz inspired work called “Within the Quota”. Diaghilev rejected the work because he did not like jazz. This work was later developed by Javier de Frutos, and Scottish Ballet are the first company to perform Elsa Canasta since its original performances over ten years.
Elsa Canasta is just a wonderful piece of work with music by Cole Porter and at times haunting vocals of “In The Depths” by Nick Holder. Watching dancers of the calibre of Eve Mutso, Sophie Laplane and Sophie Martin is always a joy as they seem to at times become almost weightless on stage. The work also manages to capture that hedonistic lifestyle of a wealthy class of people in those early days of Jazz.
I would love to see Scottish Ballet working with more Jazz music. We do have the wonderful Scottish National Jazz Orchestra here and it would be amazing to see the two working together on something new.
This of course was also the final performance from Erik Cavallari, and Elsa Canasta was just a wonderful piece of work for him to be ending his performing career on. If you are leaving, do it like this at the very top of your game. I am sure that many audiences as well as Scottish Ballet will miss the talents of Erik Cavallari in years to come.
Review by Tom King