A Midsummer Night's Dream
Independent Ballet Wales
10th October 2005
A Midsummer Night's Dream by Independent Ballet Wales relied on classical technique and choreography to tell Shakespeare's story, setting aside extraneous props and pantomime to provide some sweet and charming moments.
Choreographer Darius James sets a comfortable pace by presenting constantly changing vignettes, and we meet the main couples Oberon and Titania, Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, and Hippolyta and Theseus, portrayed by a strong cast of dancers.
Soon the mortal world collides with the fairy one until lovers are mixed, matched and intertwined, dancing light-heartedly to spells cast by the quintessential charmer Puck.
By the end of the first act, everyone's true love has gotten truly mixed up.
Alex Grant excels as Puck, moving as fast as fairy dust and suggesting magic is everywhere, adeptly portraying the comic role.
His footwork is so fleeting and arms so precise that as he swoops to centre stage, mischievously looking around, hearts teeter on the brink of breaking.
Through interesting pedestrian movements and clearly recognizable classical ballet steps, the story comes together.
A group of workmen stomp their heels in unison during Act I, then take off, Charlie Chaplin-like, with legs stretching out in front of them. This choreography works as well as the classical pas de deux near the end when James Foster as Oberon and Elizabeth Peck as Titania reunite.
As they pirouette and arabesque, other couples fill the corners of the stage and follow suit.
The effect is like pieces of a kaleidoscope coming together as the different couples move at their own pace and the patterns form a satisfying whole.
Puck anchors the action in most ballet productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the same was true here.
Still, the others in the cast - Foster, Peck, Amy Doughty, Katherine Kingston, Keir Brody, Chris James and Sarah Cassar - each play two roles at some point in the ballet, essential for a company this small to tell a story this involved.
They succeeded in maximizing slim resources. If only Puck could make those resources multiply.
© The Irish Times