Birmingham Royal Ballet's Triple Bill
It seems like summer’s not yet over but in the busy world of theatre the autumn season’s already begun and first off the mark is this marvellous triple bill of signature works from Birmingham Royal Ballet showcasing their glitteringly accomplished young company.
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Triple Bill
On the first night these dancers seemed to perform even better than ever before as bristling with enthusiasm like excited terriers they gave us three major works from the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s treasure house of a repertoire. First off was Kenneth Macmillan’s exquisite Concerto set to Shostakovich’s second Piano Concerto. An exercise in the most elegant and super-controlled use of the human body its purity sang out as the dancers clad simply in yellow orange and red against a palely lit stark background went through a series of extremely beautiful but increasingly testing, because so physically controlled, movements.Only a great company at the top of its game could field a credible ensemble for this work of extreme perfectionism. In a cast packed with so many marvellously experienced company stars it’s invidious to single out any one dancer but here Tyrone Singleton outshone even his own most perfect previous triumphs. Next came BRB Director David Bintley’s heartbreaking Still Life At The Penguin Café depicting in a dazzling variety of balletic forms the sombre, nay terrifying subject of the extinction of species. Initially joyously celebratory, even comic, it gradually sounds a stark and sombre warning. I saw the first night of this work and have watched it several times since, but on this outing Still Life seems even more perfect, imaginative and stylish to a fault, yet with a terrible sting that perhaps our great success has become our own nemesis as a species like so many others before us. Brilliant, deeply affecting and beautifully done, this left me wondering if this was not perhaps the most important of BRB Director Bintley’s works to date, now even more urgently affecting than when it was first made. The evening’s grand finale was another Macmillan work, the masterpiece that is Elite Syncopations set to the ragtime music of Scott Joplin and others. Boasting an onstage band this shows a company of dancers rehearsing which turns into a high-spirited, good-natured and very funny competition between dancers to see who can be the most outstandingly athletic and inventive. I’m not going to tell you anything more about it save to say that although I having seen this marvellous work several times before I have never seen it danced with more verve or sheer brinksmanship. The 38 minute playing time contains more opportunities for the superb showing–off of the young dancers’ craft than any other work I can think of and this particular performance stood head and shoulders above anything that could reasonably be expected even from this world class company. A perfect programme and a truly marvellous night out. Now bring on Aladdin I say.