Exeter Express and Echo online (2 November 2014), and Exeter Express and Echo: Echo2, Page 8 (6 November 2014)
Can a theatre full of young children really be expected to sit still and enjoy 45 minutes of classical music and ballet? It’s debatable – but if they’re going to make it through any, it’s probably going to be this one.
Presented by Ballet Black as part of the extreme imagination festival 2014, Dogs Don’t Do Ballet follows the shenanigans of Biff – a dog absolutely determined to don a tutu and wobble her way into the world of dance.
Choreographed by Christopher Marney, Biff was hilarious. How the dancer managed to combine such fluid, graceful movements with something so undeniably dog-like is beyond me. Her slip-sliding across the stage, clambering onto her owner and woeful whimpering immediately won the affections of adults and children alike in the Northcott.
The whole performance was deliciously twee. Music from Fauré, Elgar and Tchaikovsky provided comedy, tension and cheer at all the right moments. The talent of the performers was breath-taking – however, in some longer sequences, the amount of chatter did begin to rise.
Dogs Don’t Do Ballet seemed to sit somewhere between a family comedy and an accomplished dance performance, and while the movements were always spot on, sometimes we could have perhaps done with a little more silliness.
We needed those snippets of comedy, which were brilliant when they arrived. A ballet teacher’s loud snores and Biff wiggling her bum at the audience produced delighted giggles across the room. And as some youngsters began to get restless in the final performance, the dancer flung his partner offstage with a clatter – to emerge amid roaring laughter with a tuba on her head. Genius.
As Biff made her final bow, an affectionate “yay!” burst from the seat behind me. Yes, she’d definitely won hearts this afternoon. And to sum up the performance? “It was very fun, and roses came down!”
I don’t think I could have put it better myself.