Birmingham Royal Ballet @ Theatre Royal

Image by Roy Smiljanic

Image by Roy Smiljanic

On the first night of their Northern England tour, and their first visit to Nottingham, Birmingham Royal Ballet dance their way through several different eras of artistic innovation, in a varied three act performance that will keep you on your toes…literally.

The Grand Tour

Set against a backdrop of pastels, waves and silver deckchairs, The Grand Tour joins the ocean voyage of Noël Coward and friends aboard a 1930s liner. The cast of characters includes a flamboyant George Bernard Shaw (Jonathon Payn) and icily proud Theda Bara (Samara Downs); the nuanced choreography of Joe Layton and charismatic dancing of the company perfectly evoking these early twentieth century cultural greats.

On the edge of this group sits an American Lady (Victoria Marr), who takes more interest in the sprightly Italian Stowaways, who bring a refreshing excitement to the deck’s social scene thanks to the wonderfully expressive performances of Ruth Brill and Kit Holder.  After constantly looking into this glamorous world of flirtation and fickleness, the reluctant American Lady finally accepts the offer a dance. Though her efforts are somewhat unpolished, they bring humour to the scene and Marr demonstrates great skill in her ability to ‘dance badly’! A living, breathing snapshot into a fascinating era of travel and art.

Bitesized Ballet

Opening to the lone tombstone of Giselle, Bitesized Ballet leaves the innovation of the 1930s in favour of this classic Romantic ballet. Nao Sakuma (Giselle) and Jamie Bond (Count Albrecht) dance the pas de deux of Act II with fitting delicacy, for this union between the living and the dead.

From the supernatural forest to the ballroom floor, and three energetic excerpts from William Walton’s Façade. ‘Popular Song’, ‘Foxtrot’ and ‘Tango’ make for  a lively interlude of passion and silk, choreographed by Frederick Ashton and vibrantly danced by the company.

Back into the forest, but this time to the realm of Titania (Elisha Willis) and her Oberon (Joseph Clay). The pair dance the pas de deux of The Dream with the playful innocence of a couple reveling in their own company. The design work of Peter Farmer and lighting by John B. Read complete the atmosphere of enchantment.

Image by Bill Cooper

Image by Bill Cooper

Take Five

Classy on the ear and classy on the eye, Take Five is a triumph. A selection of Brubeck’s greats, including ‘Four Square’, ‘Double Take’ and of course the title piece, are the perfect accompaniment to the elegance of ballet. The company appear to relish the freedom given by the cymbals and saxophone, given away by the not-so- occasional grin, and the visual rhythm of their dance is another instrument in the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Never such a stylish courtship than that portrayed in ‘Two Step’; the impassioned execution of Company Director David Bintley’s choreography by Céline Gittens and Tyrone Singleton delightfully captures the excitement of that chance meeting. With its white t-shirts and muted block- coloured dresses, Take Five is not flashy; it’s effortlessly chic.

Lauren Wilson

Birmingham Royal Ballet perform again at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, this evening, 11th May 2013. For ticket information go to:

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