Red Shoes 'moving' and 'full of energy'

DanceEast continues to bring innovative and exciting dance pieces to Ipswich, as was evident at the performance last Saturday of The Red Shoes by the State Ballet School of Berlin.

DanceEast continues to bring innovative and exciting dance pieces to Ipswich, as was evident at the performance last Saturday of The Red Shoes by the State Ballet School of Berlin.

The ballet, performed by 80 young dancers, was choreographed by Marguerite Donlon and was a far cry from most traditional ballets, containing, as it did, hip hop, jazz and Irish dancing elements.

Opening with David Bowie's Let's Dance (which contains the lyrics 'put on your red shoes and dance the blues') the dancers streamed onto the stage, full of energy.

The ballet contained a mixture of Hans Christian Anderson's fairytales, including The Ugly Duckling, The Emperors New Clothes and, of course, The Red Shoes - about a girl who don a pair of relentless red shoes that have a life of their own and never stop dancing so she has to have her feet cut off.

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At times it was difficult to follow the plot, what with so many characters coming and going, but the storyline wasn't the most important element to the show - what people enjoyed was the variety of dance style and comedy moments.

One of the funniest, and cutest, sections was the ducklings, dressed in yellow with beaks on their heads, all quacking at each other and in time to the music.

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The ending was very moving as Karen, the main character played by Aoi Nakamura, had her feet snipped off by the angels so she would be free. Her technique was superb and she put real emotion into the part.

The first half of the evening was dominated by male soloists, the first of which was Henri Oguike performing Expression Lines. Welsh-born Henri performed with precision against an atmospheric lighting set-up by Guy Hoare. Rapid movements were contrasted with moments of stillness and small, almost imperceptible hand gestures. The lighting was superb and set the piece off perfectly; single, alternate orange bulbs lit the darkened stage and momentary flashes of white light mimicked lightening. The intense lighting also highlighted sweat beads being flicked from Henri's brow, adding to the idea of him dancing out in a thunderstorm. The music, which reminded me of a soundtrack to an independent movie of the American road journey variety, added to the atmosphere.

Second up was the Affi, danced by William Moore of Stuttgart Ballet. This was, for me, the most captivating and impressive piece of the night as William juddered, scuttled and scampered around the stage with such speed it seemed he was in fast forward mode. His tight, rippling torso and shoulders tensed and twitched in a variety of unusual movements as he danced a dance of someone in great emotional pain and suffering, as if confined to a straightjacket or locked in a prison cell. The music, by Johnny Cash, increased the sense of suffering. In short, this bizarre, at times comedic dance piece, which was unlike anything I have seen before, was utterly captivating.

Last up, before the interval, was Ossein, by Wayne McGregor of Random Dance and performed by Antoine Vereecken.

With music by Bach, this mix of contemporary and ballet was technically impressive but, unfortunately slightly disappointing. The music and movements weren't anything hugely innovative. Had this piece been placed second in the line-up it would have perhaps appeared more impressive but nothing could really follow on from Affi, which blew everyone away in one way or another.

Over all, an enjoyable night and I look forward to more superb events from the growing DanceEast organisation.

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