ARTSCAPE 27TH MARCH 2013
What a treat! The prospect of attending Sean Bovim’s new production, Private Presley” was titillating. Firstly it is always fun to experience this vibrant young company, (in all senses of the word), secondly Sean’s vision is always innovative and entertaining and thirdly, the music of the “King” is so much a part of our lives that we knew we could expect the thrill of the familiar and also an insight into Presley’s life.
And the production did not fall short of our expectations...
The idea of providing the talented young ballet dancers in Cape Town with an alternative to traditional ballet companies is one of Bovim’s many strokes of genius. The Bovim Ballet Company has given countless dancers a chance to pursue their passion as well as to earn an income while interpreting edgy relevant choreography. This choreography has the added bonus of being immediately accessible to most people and thereby serves to bring ballet to a wider audience.
And now to focus on “Private Presley”: The opening scene set the pace with interesting sets and the clever idea of having the girls push larger than life wooden cut outs of Elvis figures. Another cute touch was the blue suede shoes of the boys—a satisfying attention to detail. Of course Bovim’s signature use of brightly coloured pointe shoes on the girls is in evidence and here again he uses pointe work in both usual and largely unusual ways. He states in his program notes that getting the girls to perform the 50’s and 60’s dance styles in pointe shoes rather than in flat tackies was probably ground breaking for ballet.
There were more highlights of performance and choreography than lowlights but to be objective, there were some opening night technical hitches with clumsy scene changes, erratic mikes and some expressionless faces. In general the first half was vibrant and bubbly dealing with the first part of Presley’s life. Unfortunately there was also a slight flat feeling during this half either due to first night nerves or the subject matter. The second half was a vast improvement as the more emotional side of his life was explored and allowed some evocative and powerful interpretations from the dancers.
Look out for some really fun ideas such as the hearts cleverly worked into the gloves, Devon Marshbank’s “Mini Me” in the puppet scene, his vocals when full sized, together with Steve van Wyk, (pity about those mikes), Louisa and Grant’s liquid moves in their pas de deux, and the boys doing their macho thing in Jail House Rock and GI Blues. The pas de quartre and pas de six provided some satisfying choreographic arrangements and proved once more that Bovim’s talent in this respect is very much alive and kicking.
The leads (Henk Opperman as Elvis and Elzanne Crause as Priscilla) were not always totally convincing in their scenes together but they did reach an emotional connection in “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and their bedroom scenes.
A small quibble is Henk’s hairstyle—he would have been more believable as Elvis if more effort would have been made to make his hair look more like the unmistakable bouffant coif of the King.
The set design must get a special mention as it is innovative and carries the story along convincingly though I have mentioned the technical hitches with this on opening night.
Using well-loved music of famous artists as a vehicle with which to carry a production has been done with notable success by Bovim in the past. This formula works well here too—we know the music and by giving us a visual interpretation of the songs, we get an added dimension to what we know about the life of Presley.
So let’s see....you have two choices: you could stay at home and miss this production OR you could rock and roll down to the Artscape Theatre before April 7th and spend a few hours in the company of not only the King of Rock and Roll but the Prince of Pointe and Pizzazz—Sean Bovim and his merry band of ballet dancers.
Also visit the new version of the DanceDirectory website, where much more other info can be found.
Visit DanceDirectory and StudioDirectory regularly for the latest dance news and information on dance events and achievements worldwide.
DanceDirectory is the first and largest dance related internet directory in Southern Africa.