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Review: Polarity and Proximity at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Royal Ballet really know how to put on a gala evening and this triple bill – far from being a run of the mill programme for a Wednesday night – was a masterful showcase for everything that has gone over the last quarter century towards making this company world class.

Polarity and Proximity

Polarity and Proximity

The evening’s first offering, Alexander Whitley’s Kin turns out to be a massive demonstration of the company’s versatility as dancers in a room achieve a series of technical high-spots to Phil Kline’s expressive score aidied by Peter Teigen’s powerfully beautiful lighting.

Second offering, new commission George Williamson’s Embrace set out to explore “one man’s journey toward understanding and acceptance” on the way to embracing “who he really is”. This started promisingly with a well-prepared cast but the arc of its subject matter gradually came to seem increasingly earthbound, its literalness depth-charged by a predictable narrative curve. Still I look forward to seeing more of this choreographer’s work seeing plenty of promise here.

The evening’s final offering, Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room to Philip Glass’s minimalist score did more than redress the balance, in fact it seemed almost unfair to follow Embrace with something so utterly powerful.

At first sight confrontational, confounding any narrative expectations, this plotless and endlessly inventive reaction to one of the most iconic scores of the minimalist pantheon has come to seem like the most sublime modern exposition of the possibilities of the human body, endlessly inventive and infinitely beautiful.

Here a marvellous ensemble of some of the company’s biggest stars including the sublime Momoko Hirata and the marvellous Tyrone Singleton thrilled the house with their exquisitely-judged exposition of what seem to be the endless permutations made possible by Philip Glass’s hypnotic music for Twyla Tharps’s infinitely varied, utterly controlled and yet totally abandoned-seeming choreography. Stunning.

Next week Kenneth Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet. Don’t miss it.

Polarity and Proximity runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until June 23. For tickets phone the box office on 0844 338 5000.

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