THE Cape Dance Company’s (CDC’s) latest season, Grace, encompasses the neoclassical dynamic that defines the company and illustrates the importance of excellent training and a stable environment in which young dancers can thrive.
The four works that make up Grace show off the virtuosity of the dancers, but there is a predictability about the choreography. Scenes, choreographed by Bradley Shelver (formerly an Alvin Ailey dancer), display layers of creativity through short scenes within scenes — at times the dancers frame the action by observing from benches on the sides of the stage. Shelver plays with shapes in space and his lighting is particularly evocative.
Grant van Ster and Louisa Talbot perform a fetching duet and Van Ster evokes much open-mouthed admiration from the audience when a female dancer launches herself at him from the wings and he effortlessly catches her while seated on a bench.
Christopher Huggins (a Juilliard graduate and Alvin Ailey dancer) has been associated with the CDC for several years now. His When Dawn Comes… opens with four nymphs curled up in a wispy puddle of light. The quartet is whimsical and light and leads into a duo, Aurora, with James Bradley and Ipeleng Merafe (recently returned from touring with Dada Masilo’s celebrated Swan Lake). The duo turns into a rejection exercise by Bradley, which somewhat stereotypes the woman as one who continues to pursue her man anyway.
The final part, First Light, is a series of duos, structured to highlight synchronicity, timing and placing. It is a lyrical and fluid section with impressive lifts and partnering by the men.
Mnemenology has been created by Adele Blank especially for the CDC. It is inspired by memory in Blank’s signature jazzy contemporary style set to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Guest artist Megan Swart is unflustered as she is handled, carried, lifted, turned upside down by the men in a big group piece with fast partnering and showy duos.
The programme concluded with Huggins’s Enemy Behind The Gates. It was inspired by enemies that live in our midst and premiered a few days prior to 9/11. The dancers appear as soldiers in black and red military-like costumes and has grown into a work that demands precise, clean lines and hard-edged performances.
• The Cape Dance Company will perform Grace at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town from December 7-15.