With a narrative from the pen of poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and a willingness to explore darker issues, Ballet Lorent’s Rapunzel is more epic folk legend than fairy tale. Dressed in sepia tones it looks stunning and stunning it proves to be.
A set design of tall railings affords opportunities for dancers to climb, clamber, twist and hang on high. What they do should not be mistaken for gymnastics, it is eloquent, thrilling movement. At ground level the dancers are swirling and twirling and spinning, the principals with hooped hemlines.
Caroline Reece’s Witch sets the dramatic standard. Her poise and stillness are simply breathtaking. Debbi Purtill’s playing of Rapunzel’s mum shows hope, loss and despair without restraint. Rapunzel herself is played by Philippa White, a dancer with emotional depth and impressive agility. Her long hair becomes part of her.
The witch’s combing of Rapunzel’s hair, an almost operatic moment, is thrillingly angular, elaborate and expressive and is just one of the many images that will linger with audiences.
For its touring dates so far Newcastle-based Ballet Lorent has used student dancers from the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) scheme at DanceCity, which is also in Newcastle. They are not simply on stage to create a crowd. They move with clarity and purpose.
This tour marks Ballet Lorent’s move to working in middle- to large-scale venues. The company’s office phone is going to be busy with calls from venues wanting to be included in next year’s leg.