26th July 2005
Choreographers have long tried to merge classical and contemporary dance, and those who have done so successfully have helped ballet continue as one of the most compelling art forms. But keeping things relevant demands more than putting fouette turns to lyrics. It requires building on a solid past and mapping out a clear vision for the future.
The 13 performers in Chrysalis Dance displayed technical potential in Judith Sibley's ballet Strings, wearing simple white costumes and occasionally, pointe shoes. As they danced to singer-songwriter Paddy Casey's specially-tailored songs, the dancing incorporated some moderately advanced ballet- class movements with other steps that strove to be contemporary. Occasionally the performers' ability peaked, but the choreography remained flat. The ballet looked trapped in a 1980s cocoon.
Chrysalis Dance tries to create a contemporary dance style using a classical vocabulary, and has assembled a cast of dancers including Sibley, Greet Boterman, Monica Loughman and Amy Lawson, all of whom have trained abroad. Although these members of the cast performed ably, and Michael Cooney, Maurice Kelliher and Icleiber Klaus proved suitable partners, technique and enthusiasm never made up for the ballet's lack of innovation. Ballets such as this one have been performed for years.
Through most of the program's first half and in certain parts of the second, the dancing looked stilted. Although Sibley and Klaus loosened up in their duet, the basic partnering steps rarely made use of their strong onstage rapport. Unusual rhythms, stillness and unexpected jumps might have helped, but instead, this example of ballet barely got off the ground.
© The Irish Times