Brought to North Shore by Sunderland Stages, balletLORENT’s The Night Ball is a beautifully immersive dance production with all of the intimacy associated with social dance. The University of Sunderland’s Student’s Union was brought alive by the dancing feet of Newcastle based BalletLORENT, from waltzing couples to latin to hip-hop, the show had it all.
It is not until you watch seventy minutes of dancing in an energetic show such as The Night Ball that you come to admire the sheer athleticism of the performers. I was completely and utterly in awe of the dancers ability’s to maintain such an eloquent and lyrical performance whilst pushing their bodies to their limits. balletLORENT’s dancers performed with such commitment that it was impossible to not be mesmerised by them for the entirety of the show. The child in me was amazed at the hula-hooping abilities of the women in the troupe, swinging their hips for minutes at a time. More spectacular spinning came from a trio section which saw male dancers fling a female dancer with such ease and precision as she span so magically around the stage.
The performance closed with planted members of the audience taking to the stage and joining the professionals to dance but this was only the beginning for the audience. A unique as opportunity as any, The Night Ball gave audience members the chance to dance with the professionals from BalletLORENT and learn a few new moves, alternatively get on the floor and bust some moves of their own making.
The beauty of the show was not only in the performance of professional dancers but in seeing audience members have the time of their lives by engaging in social dance. I’m not sure I have ever seen such a smiley end to a show as I saw at The Night Ball, the nature of the show meant that people of all abilities could be part of a shared experience – a perfect demonstration of the inclusivity of dancing. Even if, you, like me are an expert in the awkward sway-and-shuffle it doesn’t matter, the dancefloor will always have a place for you. Even those who chose to watch the dance-party unfold in the cabaret seating of the dance floor beamed beautiful smiles as they watched friends fall over each other’s toes and others come into their own on the floor.
In the words of Artistic Director Liv Lorent: “So many of us don’t dance in front of other people because of self-consciousness or a desire to be a different kind of dancer than we are. The Night Ball is an occasion to experience dance as one of our basic instincts. We are presenting dance as beautiful, charming, necessary, sometimes a little unhinged, but ultimately an extraordinary human achievement.”
The Night Ball was a stunning evening that celebrated the power of dance in the best possible way, a way which involved dancers of all abilities.