Spectacular ballet production at Farlington

February 21, 2018

Just as Imperial Vienna is the elegant home of the waltz, so fin de siècle Paris conjures up visions of the dancers and cafés so memorably captured by the French impressionists.

In their Farlington production of Gaité Parisienne the de Braam Ballet Academy transported packed audiences to the raffish streets and studios of Montmartre, providing romance, exuberance and vitality in spectacular fashion.

As ever, Natalie van de Braam’s inspired direction and original choreography enabled the talented troupe of 45 dancers to showcase awesome balletic skills – not least some exhilarating double pirouettes – as well as superb ensemble co-ordination and empathy.

The production exuded charm, each group with its distinct character and eye-catching costumes: the youngest as the innocent “enfants jouant”; the waitresses witty and charming in their polka dot skirts; the colourful clowns; the well-drilled toy soldiers; the cheeky young girls having fun; the wonderfully bedecked artists; and the brilliantly realised ballet danseuses, immortalised by Degas.

The senior dancers transformed from traditional country girls to fashionable young ladies, showing impressive work en pointe. The use of props such as parasols and hats was imaginative; and, throughout, the varied musical styles of Offenbach were perfectly captured in waltz, mazurka and, of course, the famous can-can.

A stunning production and the set with its string of Parisian-style lights and posters – together with those fabulous costumes – really captured the atmosphere of Montmartre. Natalie van de Braam’s dancers had wonderful control and professional discipline but never at the expense of an infectious joie de vivre.

David Thomas