Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet triple bill @ Birmingham Hippodrome

When first offered a review ticket for Birmingham Royal Ballet 25 years ago I knew nothing at all about ballet. The resulting quarter of a century has been an education not just for me but for their ever-growing audiences the length and breadth of Britain.

Their first performances had embarrassingly tiny audiences for a couple of performances. They now boast solidly sold-out two week runs.

This latest programme shows why. Its riches include no less than three ballets by three different choreographers whose styles could not be more varied.

George Balanchine was one of the original choreographers for fellow-Russian Diaghilev’s legendary avant-garde Ballet Russe. Marooned abroad by the 1917 revolution they fled to all corners of the earth taking ballet with them.

Balanchine became the darling of New York audiences, and here we see a plotless ballet set to the music of fellow-Russian Tchaikovsky featuring all the most delightful and difficult to do steps from the classical canon led by the charming Joseph Caley and the glittering Momoko Hirata who makes the impossible look like a walk in the park.

I must say I found the second offering, Kin by choreographer Alexander Whitley to Phil Kline’s score and featuring Elisha Willis and Joseph Caley rather challenging. Dark, anguished and violent it featured steps that in some cases looked dangerous to me but met with a rapturous reception especially from the younger members of the audience.

The evening’s final offering, Enigma Variations by ex-Royal ballet Director Frederick Ashton to Elgar’s famous music was rather more firmly in my comfort zone, its gentle elegiac portraits by turns wistful, amusing, joyous and gently sentimental in the golden glow of an eternal Edwardian summer afternoon. In other words a delightful evening from the clever programmers at BRB, something old, something new, something movingly lovely, all packed with the company’s brightest stars.

Another great night out at the theatre.

PS – don’t forget BRB’s supreme Christmas show The Nutcracker – November 27 to December 13 – is already open for booking.

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