A Pleasing Entertainment

The first performance of The Loves of Mars and Venus; or, Mr. Weaver’s Dramatick Entertainment has happened – on 26th February 2017 at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings. The audience found the show visually stunning and highly entertaining. Please forgive us if we blow our own trumpets about this entirely new drama celebrating the 300th anniversary of the first modern ballet.

No pictures this time, but we will set up a gallery of images from rehearsals and performances as soon as we can.

Michael Spenceley as John Weaver / Vulcan achieved a tour de force as he moved from speech, to gesture, to dance almost in the same breath. He revealed Weaver’s ambitions, explored his innovations in dance and gesture and, finally, represented the full range of Vulcan’s passions.

Romain Arreghini as Monsieur Dupré / Mars was every inch the French dancer bringing a sophisticated and virtuosic baroque dance technique to England. As Mars, he was equally convincing as the warrior and the lover.

Chiara Vinci as Hester Santlow / Venus showed how Mrs Santlow must have entranced her audiences as she sang, danced and coquetted throughout her dual roles demonstrating the same versatility as dancer-actresses of the time.

The music, played by Jacques Paisible (Evelyn Nallen, recorder), David Hoyers (Jamie Akers, lute) and Nicola Haym (Gareth Deats, cello), was drawn from a long list of tunes by all but forgotten composers of Weaver’s own time. It was exceptionally expressive, with several very lovely pieces, and it was beautifully played

Jenny Miller’s direction created clever, funny and endlessly varied action, using minimal props. She was simultaneously true to the original period and contemporary to ours. Stephen Wyatt’s text was adroit and succinct in its portrayal of Weaver and how he created his ballet, giving spectators a dance history lesson without anyone noticing. Chris de Wilde’s costumes cleverly reproduced and evoked the early 1700s, from the performers’ everyday rehearsal costume to their stage finery.

Gilles Poirier drew on the steps and choreographic conventions of baroque dance to create new choreographies for Mars and Venus. Were his references to modern ballet asking us to think about what we really know of baroque dance?

The next performance is on the 300th anniversary itself, 2nd March 2017 at 8pm in the Fitzwilliam College Auditorium, Storey’s Way, Cambridge CB3 0DG.

Tickets in advance £16 from www.barefootopera.com

Tickets at the door £18

Link: http://fitz.cam.ac.uk/events/concerts

If you love dance and theatre and you like your history to come alive – be there!


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