Birmingham Royal Ballet – Triple Bill
| By Grace McCabe
(Updated on Jan 5, 2018)
“Beautiful and emotional with every movement.”
Birmingham Royal Ballet recently performed a wonderful triple bill evening at Sadler's Wells - Arcadia, Le Baiser de la fée and Still Life’ at the Penguin Café.
Beginning with Ruth Brill’s mystical Arcadia, the night immediately took a step out of reality and into the land of magic and fairies. Brandon Lawrence portrayed Pan with control and incredible ease as he jumped and danced with the beings around him. Showcasing amazing heights in his jumps and such softness when on the ground, it was not difficult to begin to see him as a mystical creature, flowing through each move. A beautiful work celebrating the talent of female choreographers, something lacking in the dance world. As Brill’s first large-scale performance, I found the piece moving and artistic. As she develops her work, I believe her balance of artistry and storytelling will become more balanced, only enhancing her powerful and magical choreography.
The second piece of the night was Le Baiser de la fée, a haunting and darker piece, capturing the excitement of the technically difficult Stravinsky score. Michael Corder’s work has brought the tale to life as the dark fairy chooses her sacrifice and fights to reclaim him. Played by Jenna Roberts, the boldness and surety of the fairy’s steps puts her in control from the moment she appears on stage. Her smooth control over the hero character, danced by Lachlan Monaghan, switches the usual dynamic as she leads him around the stage and creates the movement for him to follow. Monaghan dances with a rare, Disney-like aura about him, a dashing smile and a strong leap in his step. As the two characters struggle through the darker scenes, Momoko Hirata provides a lovely light relief as the beautiful young bride, excited for her wedding day.
To me, the most striking aspect of this piece was the visual effect. The beautiful costumes had such tiny details yet moved as part of the dancers themselves. The stage design was as I would describe, traditional and yet the use of screens created a mystical and darker effect, as if we were watching the events but could not intervene, a story to behold yet never to change. The dancers showed a youthful energy in each scene which only emphasised the tragedy of the ending. A beautiful and striking performance which will sit in my mind for a long time to come.
Finally, as a light relief, the final piece of the night was Still Life at the Penguin Café which was instantly a crowd favourite. From penguin waiters to salsa dancing rams, mariachi fleas and majestic zebras, the piece was chock-a-block of funny moments, grand group dances and to be honest, just a lot of fun. The audience was captured from the first penguin to the very end. The wonder of the piece, it must be said, came from the animalistic choreography and skill with which the dancers performed. Not once did I question the animal’s movements, they were perfectly paired to the characters.
A wonderful night showcasing incredible talent from the dancers and choreographers to the designers and musicians. I cannot wait to see what BRB will bring to the stage next!