Concerto Barocco/Take Five/Twilight
Birmingham Royal Ballet
York Theatre Royal
The Birmingham Royal Ballet's three part show starts with a more traditional piece, eight dancers gracing the stage in white and variously dancing in duets, or splitting the group in half. One ballerina joins them and finally another single dancer with her male partner forms the complete cast. The dancers work to echo the music in weaving in and out of each other, dancing so close to each other that they variously become one larger body. Among this it is Lei Zhao that stands out for her exquisite perfection and effortless fluidity, whilst supporting Natasha Oughtred's lead.
In the second part comes Twilight in which Jenna Roberts and Jamie Bond dance to John Cage's The Perilous Night (1944). The stage opens to a twilight sky line, in which a man and woman dance out their relationship. This is a dance of dramatic sexual politics and the pair compete, spark and challenge each other with their 'prepared piano' led dance. The 'prepared piano' is effectively a percussion instrument and leads the dancers to almost beat their fizzing relationship out in the dance. When Roberts removes her shoes, the gloves are off, as it were, and the competition becomes ever more demanding. With her deft shoulder shrug towards the end she raises a laugh from the audience, and carries on, with the curtain coming down on the dancers in their original starting positions, repeating the moves. The dance goes on.
Finally the company joyously present Take Five. This is fabulously set off by Peter Mumford's striking lighting, giving the dancers a chequered floor of light to swing in and out of. They dance to The Dave Brubeck Quartet's famous jazz, including 'Three to Get Ready', 'Blue Rondo a la Turk' and 'Take Five', fantastically played by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia (in the North/East) quartet. What becomes so enjoyable about watching this is the obvious pleasure on the dancers' faces as they perform this piece, and sends the audience out on an absolute high. 'Four Square' stands out especially as four male dancers clap in time to the beat and playfully take up the rhythm while their fellow performers leap and twirl, until they are all united in the beat again. Mathias Dingman performs solo in 'Flying Solo', and dominates the stage alone with ease.
Birmingham Royal Ballet will prove a hard act to follow in York Theatre Royal's exciting, changing programme which is currently taking over the main stage.
Reviewer: Cecily Boys