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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 7:53 pm 
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La Fille Mal Gardee - 11th May, Birmingham Hippodrome

I don't really have much to say about this ballet, except that it was nice! You know that this is going to be a light hearted piece after just a couple of minutes after curtain up when we get dancing chickens!
But yes, it was nice, the sets and costumes were nice, the choreography was nice, the story itself was nice! Maybe I'm just a bit tired right now, but even when I was watching the show I couldn't really think of any other way of describing it! :oops:
It's just a nice little light-hearted ballet to watch when you just want to relax and not think about much.


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 3:23 am 
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Alex, my memory is that there are fine dance passages and a fair amount of wit that might take it beyond nice.


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 4:04 am 
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Stuart Sweeney wrote:
Alex, my memory is that there are fine dance passages and a fair amount of wit that might take it beyond nice.


absolutely, don't get me wrong, I could not find a single fault with the performance, the part of the widow especially is full of humour and wit, and all the dance passages are excellent. I really enjoyed the performance, so don't get me wrong it is an excellent show to watch.


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 7:00 am 
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‘La Fille mal gardée’ - Birmingham Royal Ballet
Birmingham Hippodrome, UK; May 10, 2006.


If you stop and think about it, there is something a little strange about “Fille”. How is it that a ballet that originated in France, and from the set and designs is so obviously French, feels so English?

What Ashton does of course is evoke the England of our dreams; an England suspended in time. As he put it “a leafy pastorale of perpetual sunshine and the humming of bees,” to which he might have added, where everything is perfect and the sun always seems to be shining. Of course, it’s an England that never existed. The other aspect of his genius was in incorporating elements of that wonderfully English institution, pantomime, into his tale of village life.

On Wednesday evening that England of our imagination came to the stage of the Birmingham Hippodrome. The ballet is so enchanting that even though I suspect most of the audience had seen it before, probably many times before, and knows what is coming, everyone still laughs in all the right places and still goes ‘aaaahhh’ when the pony appears to take Lise and her mother to the picnic.

Nao Sakuma made for a delightful Lise. Not only did she make the choreography look easy, but she can act and has great comic timing. She moved effortlessly between mischievous young lady and someone clearly deeply in love. Some of her facial expressions, done as asides to the audience, were quite brilliant. Robert Parker meanwhile was perhaps a little restrained in his portrayal of Colas. Somehow he didn’t seem quite as in love as she was, although his dancing was very strong, the multiple turns in Act III being especially memorable.

Elsewhere, Christopher Larsen could perhaps have been a little more gormless as Alain, the village dimwit, albeit a rich dimwit. We all laugh at him but again Ashton’s storytelling is such that by the end of the ballet we actually feel quite sorry for him. Maybe one day he will find love of his own, and I don’t mean with his red umbrella. David Morse once again shown what a master character actor he is with a very funny portrayal of Lise’s mother, Widow Simone.

All in all, an evening of sunshine and happiness. The whole corps looked like they really were enjoying it just as much as we were sitting in the audience. I know I walked out of the theatre smiling and humming the tunes to myself and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Continues on tour to Plymouth, Salford and Cardiff.


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 6:53 am 
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Soaring firebird and sun-god let down by plodding comedy
by ISMENE BROWN for the Daily Telegraph

The evening has a big "but" though, in the shape of Kim Brandstrup's new ballet to Stravinsky's witty 1920 baroque rewrite, Pulcinella.

published: May 5, 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 12:19 pm 
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Stravinsky Ballets, Birmingham Hippodrome
by CLEMENT CRISP for the Financial Times

It is against these dance- traps that Brandstrup’s movement must fight to reach us, and it fails to do so. And so, too, do the characterisations. Robert Parker, magnificent dance- artist, mops and mows and makes no impact. Ambra Vallo, criminally underlit, might as well have recited Excelsior as a dramatic exercise, so distant seemed her presence. I hazard, having strained my eyes and my good will in the murk of Scott’s 10-watt capriccio, that there is an intriguing ballet out there in the gloom. Stylish frocks, a bright cyclorama as setting, might disperse the actual and spiritual depression over Italy, and show us Brandstrup’s very real merits.

published: May 8, 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 1:51 pm 
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Birmingham Royal Ballet
by JUDITH MACKRELL for the Guardian

Cleverly, Brandstrup depicts Pulcinella as a puppet who has somehow slipped his strings, a giddy, quivering creature who alternates between blithe enthusiasm and doleful despair, and who can only just hold on to his spiky, streetwise girlfriend Pimpinella (Ambra Vallo). Some of his best writing is for these comically ill-assorted lovers, especially their wrangling duets in which tiny Vallo seems to batten on to Parker's body, her railing fists and flick-knifing limbs wheeling vociferously around him.

published: May 5, 2006
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 3:01 am 
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La Fille Mal Gardee
By Pat Ashworth for The Stage

Birmingham Royal Ballet never fails to delight with the scythes, sheaves and sunshine of this pastoral idyll, its tone set from the outset by Alexander Campbell’s self-important cockerel and his four fussy hens. The production exploits all the comic possibilities but the abiding memory is one of beauty and innocence.

It flows like a river, the movement interwoven with the circles of folk dance and the winding ribbons that are such a key motif.

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 5:16 am 
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Stravinsky! A Celebration 2006
By Pat Ashworth for The Stage

Robert Parker is born to dance the young god, Apollo. From the dramatic opening of his birth and the slow freeing from his bindings, he dances first in a restrained and exploratory way and later with a power and assurance that exults in the creativity he discovers and the almost hypnotic control he has over the movement of the three Muses. The pas d’action with Elisha Willis, Nao Sakuma and Ambra Vallo is seamless.

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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 8:44 pm 
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BRB have confimred two new appointments to the company.

Clara Blanco, originally from Valladollid, Spain, has joined from San Francisco Ballet as a First Artist. Linnar Looris, Principal with the Estonian National Ballet, has joined BRB as a Soloist.


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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 12:38 am 
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I have seen Linnar Looris dance several times in Tallinn, where he is an audience favourite. One of the dancers in the Company told me that his partnering skills are much appreciated within the company.

Here is what I wrote about his performance in Yuri Vamos's "Shannon Rose" ("Ryan's Daughter"):

Quote:
In previous productions, Linnar Looris has made an impact with his jetées and strong stage presence. However, as the English Officer he dances with a precision I haven’t seen before; his duets with Chirkova send sparks flying and the final tragic scenes are full of pathos. Vàmos has clearly inspired this young dancer to new heights...


It is becoming very hard to keep principal men in Estonian National Ballet, as there is such a demand around Western Europe, where pay rates are so much higher than in Estonia.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 4:06 am 
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Ballet Meets Ballroom

‘Apollo’, ‘The Seasons’, ‘Nine Sinatra Songs’ - Birmingham Royal Ballet
The Lighthouse, Poole, UK; June 24, 2006


It’s that time of year when Birmingham Royal Ballet divides into two, one half of the company heading towards the north-east, the other to the south-west, both putting on shows in smaller venues and in towns and cities that do not normally see top class ballet. Which is how on a Saturday towards the end of June, an excellent and varied triple bill raised its head on the south coast at The Lighthouse, not a beacon for shipping but Poole’s excellent theatre and beacon for the arts.

The programme opened with Balanchine’s classic and timeless “Apollo”. BRB do dance this rather well and this performance was no exception. The three muses, Elisha Willis (Terpsichore), Angela Paul (Polyhymnia) and Laura Purkiss (Calliope) were excellent, especially when making shapes and patterns, each leg for example always raised to precisely the correct height. Star of the show though, was Robert Parker who seems to have become the company’s ‘Apollo-in-chief’. Parker exhibited all the necessary god-like qualities and if anything seemed to have added a little sharpness to performances earlier in the year in Birmingham.

“Apollo” was followed by ‘Summer’ and ‘Autumn’ from Oliver Hindle’s “The Four Seasons”. ‘Summer’ was originally created as part of BRB’s 1998 choreographic project, the rest of the ballet following in 2005. It takes swimming and diving as its theme, the blue of the backdrop suggesting blue skies, blue water and the perfect summer’s day. Which was rather appropriate really as outside it was just that. We could almost have been on one of the town’s gloriously sandy beaches. ‘Summer’ also gave a first sighting of Linnar Looris, BRB’s recent recruit from the Estonian National Ballet. Looris, quite tall with flowing blond hair, has a reputation for being an excellent partner, something more than justified on this showing which featured some very sure lifting.

Both seasons were well danced although ‘Autumn’, which takes horse racing and gymnastics as its combined theme, suffered a little from the relatively small stage. It is an odd combination but choreographically it does work, although the finale is a little repetitive. The link between the sports is provided by three pommel horses. The boys definitely seemed to be struggling for space and times, the central and furthest back pommel horse seeming especially close to the backdrop.

Given the present popularity of television shows such as ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ perhaps it is no surprise that ballroom should put in an appearance on the ballet stage. And if it’s going to do it, what better way than in Twyla Tharp’s 1982 classic “Nine Sinatra Songs”, although it’s really only eight as there’s a double helping of ‘My Way’.

This is Tharp in elegant mode. ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ croons away as seven couples dance for us, essentially ballroom with a bit of ballet thrown in for good measure. With glorious evening dresses by couturier Oscar de la Renta for the ladies, there’s plenty of grace and style but with a little bit of humour and real life too. Tharp has given seven of the songs their own musical and dance character, using ‘My Way’ as a device for bringing the couples together.

The highlights were undoubtedly ‘One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)’ and ‘That’s Life’. ‘One for My Baby’ is not based on any particular dance form but shows a close couple in a romantic late night rapport, here danced by Nao Sakuma and Tyrone Singleton. For the first time you actually felt there really was something between the dancers, something which grew as the dance went on. Clearly at ease in each other’s company. You felt they would be totally oblivious to anything else that might happen.

‘That’s Life’ could hardly be more different. Maybe it’s a comment on what has gone before. Those were dreams, this is the real thing. Here the couple, Angela Paul and Robert Parker, are engrossed in a battle of wits, each determined to get their own way. There is a sense of the man trying to dominate, to force the woman to succumb to his will and power. But she is having none of it and gives as good as she gets.

Other Sinatra classics danced to include ‘Softly as I Leave You’, based on the theme of infatuation, and ‘Strangers in the Night’, a rather bastardised tango. In 'Somethin’ Stupid’, Tharp tries to give us some comic relief, the man being particularly goofy and playful. That sort of humour doesn’t really work for me, but everyone else seemed to be enjoying it. ‘All the Way’ is full of glamour and ‘Forget Domani’ is fast paced and as showy as you could wish, the lady’s deep pinky-red costume being especially so.

If there is a criticism it would be that some of the lifting looked a little strained, even awkward. It will be interesting to see it again next year when the company have had a little more time with it, and when they have a little more space to dance in. It is also a little odd to hear ‘My Way’ twice, albeit two different recordings. Tharp uses it half way through to bring back the first three couples, then again at the end when she brings back all seven. It’s almost like there are two finales. The first is rather unnecessary and somewhat spoils the flow of the work. Tacky? Maybe. Even frothy and lacking in substance. But glitter, spectacle and easy on the eyes and ears? Definitely. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who left the theatre humming those tunes.

This programme continues to Exeter and Truro. “Nine Sinatra Songs” also features in BRB’s 2006-7 repertory with performances in Birmingham and on tour.


Last edited by David on Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2006 2:21 am 
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Apollo/The Four Seasons/Summer and Autumn/Nine Sinatra Songs
By Jane McKell for The Stage

The South West touring programme from the versatile Birmingham Royal Ballet accompanied by RB Sinfonia includes Stravinsky’s ballet Apollo with Balanchine’s innovative 1928 choreography. We witness Apollo’s birth and first tottering steps; then, after a first solo variation - accompanied by Robert Gibbs stirring violin - Apollo, as inspirational Master, is joined by three Muses. This ballet is full of classical beauty, vivacity and serenity.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2006 2:28 am 
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Solitaire/Brouillards/Pineapple Poll
By John Highfield for The Stage

It may be hard to imagine today but the three pieces in this outstanding triple bill from the Birmingham Royal Ballet once represented the finest in contemporary dance.

At some point though, contemporary becomes classic and what we have now is an evening which demonstrates very clearly how influential those two masters of British choreography, Kenneth MacMillan and John Cranko, really were.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2006 4:19 am 
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Quote:
Imaginary moves in solitary refinement
by LUKE JENNINGS for the Observer

Solitaire is is an evocative piece, and well-matched with John Cranko's, which follows. Cranko created this suite of nine dances to Debussy piano preludes in 1970 and the result is a melancholy time-capsule.

published: July 9, 2006
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