Jenna Roberts as Roast Swan with performers from Birmingham Royal Ballet. Pic: Bill Cooper
Jenna Roberts as Roast Swan with performers from Birmingham Royal Ballet. Pic: Bill Cooper

A new ballet by David Bintley – currently celebrating twenty years as Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Director – is always a hotly-anticipated event and the world premiere of The King Dances before a packed audience exceeded all expectation.

A darkly mysterious work, The King Dances focuses on the 17th century flowering of ballet in France under Louis XIV where the 14-year-old king set the courtly lead by dancing the role of Apollo the sun god in Le Ballet de la Nuit, thereby earning himself for all time the title of the Sun King.

The result is dark, but the glossy darkness of a raven’s wing glinting with fire and gold in a spectacle shot through with the unexpected, portraying courtly gentlemen as true kings of the dance. A marvellous cast headed by BRB favourite Iain Mackay brought shouts of delight for its creator and performers at the end.

Jenna Roberts as Roast Swan with performers from Birmingham Royal Ballet. Pic: Bill Cooper

But this was in a way only a taster, the big guns coming out for the main spectacle of the night, a reconditioned staging of Bintley’s monumental morality play Carmina Burana set to Carl Orff’s famous score.

This powerhouse of a revival positively throbbed with massive set pieces that seemed larger than any possible life. It’s all in there, sex, violence and the supernatural in this morality tale of three young priests’ not entirely successful battles against biblical temptation. The result is eye-poppingly sexy, leaving very little to the imagination as the superb cast headed by the increasingly assured Tyrone Singleton rush through an exciting series of incidents bursting with explosive energy.

The tavern scene with its fat-suited gluttons and glamorous live Roast Swan, and the Court of Love with its dozens of tarts alone make this evening well worth the price of admission.

I’ve seen Carmina Burana several times over the years, but here the combination of live music from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under conductor Koen Kessels, the voices of soprano Katie Trethewey, tenor Jeremy Budd and baritone Grant Doyle, the marvellous staging and sumptuous costumes make Mr.Bintley’s endlessly inventive choreography seem more eye-poppingly powerful than ever.

A wonderful night.

The double bill of The King Dances and Carmina burana runs until June 20. For tickets phone the box office on 0844 338 5000 or go online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com.