Cape Town City Ballet’s Double Bill of INGOMA / LES SYLPHIDES will enchant and thrill
Kicking off its fall season in a remarkable way, Cape Town City Ballet presents the dual programming of INGOMA / THE SYLPHIDES at Artscape Opera House.
Described as “the first ballet to be simply in the mood and dance”, LES SYLPHIDES opens with a group of dancers in voluptuous white tutus against a moon background. Ballet without intrigue ideal for those who prefer the adagio dance, the simplistic decor of the SYLPHIDES does not make it less enchanting. To the music of Frédéric Chopin, the general feeling of the SYLPHIDS is rather ethereal.
It was impossible to look away from the soloists of the SYLPHIDES. Soloists Leané Theunissen and Caitlin smith controls the scene with their presences. Theunissen particularly enters the stage with unparalleled guarantee and exudes stability in solo and duet pieces. Likewise, senior artist Olivia Parfitt excels in creating clean, long lines. There was a good partnership all around with Lêusson Muniz and the Corps de ballet can be commended for their unity and performance stuffed with ease.
Where LES SYLPHIDES can be described as having a romantic vibe, INGOMA is quite the opposite but equally – if not more – evocative. As an untrained dancer, I am always impressed with how dancing can elicit such strong emotions in an audience member, and INGOMA is a piece that I will remember for a long time.
Choreographed by Mthuthuzeli November, INGOMA is inspired by the poem Blue head by Asisipho Ndlovu Malunga. Drawing more on the African miners’ strike of 1946 and more recent mine strikes in Marikana, the mining environment is presented to us on a dimly lit, elongated Opera stage. The decor and lighting design immediately place one in this claustrophobic and dark space, with the ambiance enhanced by the striking compositions of Peter Johnsen.
INGOMA focuses on the struggles of black minors while imagining the struggles their loved ones had to go through. November states that his goal for this ballet was to be “fully animated with visceral emotion” and that he wanted to “communicate human-to-human with the audience”. He exceeds this goal not only by his choreography, but also by the way in which the Cape Town City Ballet has fully embraced the performance. Throughout it feels like each dancer puts everything into a choreographic and emotionally stimulating piece.
Lêusson Muniz and Mikayla Isaacs work particularly perfectly together as Lead Man and Lead Lady of INGOMA. Muniz shows unwavering endurance and Isaacs complements that with his gracious yet powerful presence; a truly tour de force on stage. Repetitive and smaller movements in group and partner contexts are particularly effective in INGOMA. Their effectiveness was also increased by the design of the costumes.
Performed notably during the 50th anniversary of Artscape, INGOMA’s well-performed South African premiere and the contrasting classical ballet LES SYLPHIDES, is an achievement for Cape Town City Ballet in 2021 that will not be easily forgotten.
Photo credit: Danie Coetzee
INGOMA / LES SYLPHIDES will be presented on May 19, 22, 27, 28 and 3, 4 and 5
June at 7:30 p.m. with mornings on May 22 and 29 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets cost R300 each for evening performances and R250 each for the morning. Reservations can be made at Artscape Dial-a-seat 021 421 7695 or through Computicket.