GALWAY AUDIENCES can anticipate a fabulous evening of dance as Youth Ballet West presents its new work, Ballet Egyptien & Teenage Kicks, at the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday December 13 and Sunday 14 at 8pm.
The company has gained a reputation for presenting the highest level of dance, with many of its former students now in top schools abroad and some already successful professionals.
Dance enthusiasts can enjoy the beauty of classical ballet with an excerpt from Études, by Danish choreographer Harold Lander with an original score by Carl Czerny, re-staged by YBY artistic director Judith Sibley. The one-act Études is a homage to classical ballet training that begins with traditional exercises at a barre and ends with spectacular bravura displays.
The highlight of the evening is bound to be the world premier of Teenage Kicks, which will see dancers perform to a soundtrack that includes Elvis, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Queen, and Bob Marley. In this work, choreographer Judith Sibley reflects back to a time when music defined revolution and broke through the boundaries of social convention. From this emerged the phenomenon of the teenager with a strong, independent voice and the power to make real change.
“It’s a completely new work and it’s been marvellous fun to work on,” Sibley tells me. “The music is from the fifties, sixties, and seventies and features songs from each decade. I wanted to focus on the songs and music that represented change, that made a difference, that were revolutionary.
“It was a wonderful education for the girls because the music was all from before their time, so I was getting them to listen to the likes of Bob Marley and The Kinks. I’d be telling them to look up the artists on YouTube when they got home and now they have all these tracks on their iPods that they never knew of before.”
Sibley expands on some of the music that features in the piece:
“We have ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ by The Beatles - I wanted to select a track from that phase of their career where they had moved away from pop culture,” she says. “The Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’ is there obviously as well. We have Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, the girls were fascinated to hear the story of how they both died in the plane crash at such young ages and how they began rock’n’roll.
“We have ‘Jailhouse Rock’ by Elvis. We don’t replicate the dance sequence of ‘Jailhouse Rock’ people know from the movie. We have the entire cast on chairs, and that amount of people moving together is stunning. The idea is that they are girls daydreaming in school about more interesting things.”
What of the dance style in Teenage Kicks? “I create my own movements influenced by my own contemporary work and I’m quite happy to say there isn’t a single ballet step in Teenage Kicks!” Sibley replies. “It’s all contemporary dance. I tried to get a different movement style for each piece of music and that was challenging as well because there are 15 tracks in the piece.
“Teenage Kicks is 48 minutes long, but it moves fast, there are a lot of costume changes. It’s the funniest piece I’ve worked on with Youth Ballet West. The students are very involved in the creative process as well, it’s not just me and that’s very much what Youth Ballet West is all about.”
Also on the programme is a foray into the exotic and mysterious with Ballet Egyptien. Luigini’s beautiful score is brought to life by choreographer Leighton Morrison as the dancers conjure a world of gods, pharaohs, slaves, mythology, and magic.
Sibley goes on to talk about Ballet Egyptien which Youth Ballet West first staged some five years ago.
“Ballet Egyptien is more pure, classical ballet,” Sibley tells me. “I think the whole evening, going from the classical Ballet Egyptien into Teenage Kicks will be our most varied programme. Ballet Egyptien is very visual. There are wonderful headpieces by a milliner Claire Lillis, they are stunning, huge golden wings. It’s nice to have our own works as part of the company repertoire.”
Tickets are €16/€12 and are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie