Lyndsey Winship, London Evening Standard-Triple Bill

Pure warmth from a company full of emotion

Ex-Catatonia frontwoman Cerys Matthews is prettily accompanied by Ballet Cymru, and the result is a lovely shared experience, says Lyndsey Winship, Evening Standard

Triple Bill by Ballet Cymru, Nov 30 2015 Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells London

It’s not unusual to see musicians sharing the stage with dancers, but this is different. Cerys Matthews, ex-Catatonia frontwoman turned folk singer and DJ, sits in the front corner of the stage playing songs from her Welsh language album TIR, and it’s not Matthews accompanying Ballet Cymru but the dancers accompanying her.

Matthews leads the show, talking us through the songs, getting us to sing along and chatting away on subjects ranging from Somali poetry to Jeremy Corbyn. The dancers join in, adding personality (especially the acrobatic Daisuke Miura), or just prettily extending an emotion or rhythm, like a live music video. The choreography is very simple, which means it’s not competing with the songs. It’s a lovely shared experience and a good call from Ballet Cymru’s director Darius James, who runs this small but imaginative company based in Newport.

TIR is the finale of a triple bill, and the other pieces are not as strong. Perky pizzicato steps accompany harpist Catrin Finch’s Celtic Concerto, then there’s Traces Imprinted by choreographer Marc Brew, which pushes the dancers in a more contemporary direction. The movement language isn’t hugely original or exploratory, and we don’t see a big enough range of dynamics from the dancers, but they’re young and still gaining confidence. You can’t compare Ballet Cymru with the major ballet companies but they have their own identity — warmth and accessibility is what they’re going for — and with TIR they’ve hit on a great idea.

 

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