Since 1993, when Liv Lorent founded the company, balletLORENT have toured nationally and internationally. Known for their unique collaborations with diverse artists and their appeal to young children and adults, their most recent production is a re-telling of the well-known fairytale Rapunzel.
Under the direction of Liv Lorent, a cast of eight professional and 12 young dancers unleash the darker and more adult themes within the story. Lorent’s direction successfully highlights the more mature emotion of loss and longing, cleverly juxtaposing the joyous children playing with hula hoops, balloons and scooters in the opening scene with the image of the grieving parents and the enraged witch later on.
The beautifully haunting and often explicit narration by Carol Ann Duffy, and Murray Gold’s fantastical score compliment these dark undertones exquisitely. The intricately moving set design also allows the dancers to explore their physicality: be that the mother interweaving herself with the metal frame during her grievance or the witch scaling a huge metal tower to reach the entrapped Rapunzel.
As well as appealing to adults, the production succeeds as a family friendly ballet. The children involved, who are all local to the area, often explore their individual creativity and flare. Not only is this inspiring but their execution and focus is commendable, especially for having little or no training. The end of act one sees Rapunzel locked away in the tower, undoubtedly a terrifying performance for younger children. It was made clear, however, by a member of the company that the children particularly enjoyed these darker aspects of the production.
It is certainly a privilege to witness such diverse collaboration on a production of this scale and an opportunity for children to be so pro-actively involved is rare. However at times the actual ballet dancing itself lacked the power synonymous with balletLORENT. When the Prince is left wandering alone the dance is full of empty repetition, and when Rapunzel and the Prince are reunited their duet lacks the intricacy and depth which the talented performers are certainly capable of achieving.
Whilst succeeding as a performance for all ages and as a compelling rendition of the fairytale, unfortunately it was the dancing itself which let the production down, leaving it just short of enchanting.