wolf

Mateusz Szczerek as The Wolf in Coiscéim Dance Theatre’s The Wolf And Peter by David Bolger. Pictures: Ros Kavanagh

The Wolf and Peter

DanceXchange

Patrick Centre

Birmingham Hippodrome

****

Sergei Prokofiev wrote the words and music of Peter and the Wolf in 1936 as a symphony for children.

Dublin dance company CoisCéim, translating as steps from the Irish, have used that as the basis of their dance piece for children, The Wolf and Peter with director and choreographer David Bolger giving the wolf more prominence.

In the original Peter has to persuade hunters not to kill the wolf and instead put him in a zoo, here though the hunters lock him up and Peter rescues him and then releaspeteres him back to the wild among other wolves – “Why should the wolf always be the bad guy?” being Bolger’s reasoning.

Not that this is a dance piece just for young children, it is family entertainment with colourful, well defined characters which younger children will appreciate.

Ivonne Kalter, from Germany, is Peter and must have been created from silicon rubber the way she glides and twists her way around the stage, her movement flowing like water on glass, so smooth and easy on the eye.

Ivonne Kalter as Peter

Jonathan Mitchell weighs in as the bird, a rather preening, self-important bird who sees himself as far superior to Matthew Williamson’s duck, in flippers and goggles, with arm bands and a water ring, all in bright yellow.

Then comes Emma O’Kane’s cat – literally. She based the character on a cat she had as a child thus we have a rather grumpy, bossy, unfriendly cat, claws always ready to take offence, with that feline trait of showing affection when wanting something of course, all danced beautifully with O’Kane adding some very realistic sound effects. Lapping up a glass of milk as a customer in a bistro was a lovely touch. You might be tempted to believe Emma sleeps curled up in a ball purring . . . surely not.

The grandfather is represented by a grandfather clock, which in turn represents the passage of time which goes at a snail’s pace for Peter, locked in his grandfather’s house with nothing to do after being chastised for going out of the gate and letting the duck escape.

Then there is Mateusz Szczerek from Poland as the wolf, and not just any wolf, this is a hip hop, break dancing lupine beat box of a wolf, a real Howlin’ wolf, bro.

All robotic gestures and whirling movement, great fun and so likeable you can almost forgive him eating the duck behind the piano.

 

Did we mention the piano? Conor Linehan plays away in the background on the upright piano as a sort of cross between a ballet pianist and the accompaniment to a silent movie with music based on Prokofiev’s much loved score.

The Russian maestro though is no longer around to knock off a few bars to end the dance piece so Linehan did the job for him as Peter releases the wolf back into the wild.

The result of all this is a charming piece with a strong narrative and short, interesting dances which are less symbolic or stylised than the normal contemporary dance – this is movement to tell a story or create patterns, for example, a section with the wolves’ hands surrounding Peter is mesmerising to watch. Dance that children, and, let’s be honest, we adults can understand.

It is also short, 55 minutes, which means little ones don’t lose interest. A charming introduction to dance and a lovely piece of story telling. To 03-12-16

Roger Clarke

02-12-16

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