Think its impossible to Charleston on pointe? Or tango on pointe for that matter? Well, the stunning interpretation of the The Great Gatsby by the Northern Ballet Company shatters all that you think ballet is, in a flawless adaptation of Fitzgerald’s best-loved novel.
Ballet is not typically a form known for its innovation. It is generally accepted that what makes a good (traditional) ballet can be heavily criticised when straying from the classical format. Therefore it was with great trepidation that I went to watch the Great Gatsby balletic adaptation – fully expecting to be bored out of my mind whilst simultaneously watching the murder of one of my favourite novels. I could not have been more shocked by the performance. The result was such a resounding success I am left to wonder why this is the first time it has been attempted.
The flowing balletic movements were seamlessly entwined with those typical of the jazz age, creating an upbeat, fizzing show.
It is, without doubt, the most exquisite interpretation of The Great Gatsby I have seen to date. The traditional structure of a classical ballet performance is dismantled and creatively readapted to suit the 1920s style. The flowing balletic movements were seamlessly entwined with those typical of the jazz age, creating an upbeat, fizzing show that was impossible to look away from. The minimalist staging balanced the production well, creating a backdrop for the ballet and ensured that the real focus lay upon the dancers and, of course, the dazzling costumes.
The original score was also undoubtedly a highlight, created by Sir Richard Rodney Bennnet a short time before his death. His work masterfully weaves together the upbeat jazz tones of the Roaring Twenties and the classical music associated with ballet. It is through this marriage of the styles that the true innovation in the performance is evident.
It is, without doubt, the most exquisite interpretation of The Great Gatsby I have seen to date.
The epitome of the mastery of this production was a scene depicting one of Gatsby’s famous parties. The magic of the era seemed to exude from the stage as the principles performed the Charleston (on pointe!), seduced perfect strangers and drank until they could not stand. The punchy sound of a saxophone echoed throughout and the casual wooping from the cast (again a very un—traditional sound in a ballet performance) only added to the party feeling. It truly screamed of the Roaring Twenties and created a pure feast for the senses.
At a time when the Roaring Twenties – and Gatsby in particular – are staging an epic comeback, this performance is so on pointe (haha – geddit?) that it genuinely feels as if the party never left. A must-see!
For more information about tickets for The Great Gatsby at the Theatre Royal see here