CriticalDance Forum

Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12
Page 2 of 2

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

Jennifer Teale reviews "Daphnis and Chloe" and "The Two Pigeons" for Londonist.


Zoe Anderson reviews the same program for the Independent.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

Zoe Anderson reviews Peter Wright's production of "Coppelia" at the Coliseum for The Independent.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

Clement Crisp reviews "Coppelia" for the Financial Times.

Financial Times

Author:  David [ Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

Max Maslen joins BRB from Central School of Ballet

Central School of Ballet final year student Max Maslen has gained a one year contract with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and will commence dancing with them at the end of March. He will also continue to appear with Ballet Central at a number of venues on their national tour including in his home county of Leeds at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre on Saturday 28th April and The Lowry, Salford Quays on 25th April.

Author:  David [ Mon May 07, 2012 6:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

‘9-5’, ‘Lyric Pieces’, ‘Take Five’
Birmingham Royal Ballet
Crescent Theatre, Birmingham; May 4th, 2012

David Mead

This year saw Birmingham Royal Ballet play a major part in the city's International Dance Festival for the first time, presenting a programme of three very different works.

The highlight, without doubt, was American choreographer Jessica Lang’s elegant and slightly understated “Lyric Pieces” danced to a selection of Edvard Greig piano works, and commissioned specially for the Festival. Sets, dance and music all come together in a real feast, the stage being decorated with huge rolls and fans of kraft paper that are folded and unfolded by the dancers. It reminded me of that crinkly paper that you used get in the top of boxes of chocolates. Appropriately, and just like your favourites, the dance was one tasty bite after another.

Although Lang gives an occasional nod to the folkish aspects of the music, her dance is very firmly rooted in the classical. She matches the melodic nature of the score without becoming a slave to it. The choreography ranges from the slow and moody to the downright playful. In Olympic year, it was not surprising to see a few sporting references, although they never jar. Stand out sections include “The Brook” for four women; “In Ballad Style” in which the light and precise Chou Tzu-chao is lifted overhead by the ensemble as if flying; and the delicious “Phantom” pas de deux, danced here by Jenna Roberts and Iain Mackay.

Back in 2010, BRB dancer Kit Holder presented “Printer Jam” a four-minute short set to Mistabishi’s drum and bass track of the same title. That piece has now grown into the 21-minute “9-5” with additional music from “The Mechanics of Destruction” by Matthew Herbert (aka Radio Boy) and Elizabethan William Byrd’s “In Nomine”. While Holder hasn’t gone for a narrative as such, he has turned it into a look at what he calls the “anxiety nightmare” of the first day in a new office job.

It opens with a section performed on swivelling office chairs. A digital display tells us the time of day with added computer references. The dance contains plentiful nods towards typing and other office tasks. It is all rather too obvious. Matters improve enormously, though, when Caley puts away the props and attempts at contextualisation and focuses on the dance. The original duet, now danced by the Joseph Caley as new boy Winston and his slightly scary looking boss Samara Downs, remains the stand out section. It’s sharp and precise, and contrasts nicely with a later lyrical one between Winston and Julia, one of the office girls. As a whole, “9-5” falls between any number of stools (office chairs?). The printer still needs fixing, and the office is ripe for restructuring.

Rounding things off was David Bintley’s upbeat “Take Five”, danced to a selection of Dave Brubeck’s classic jazz numbers. The simple 1960s costumes show off the Bintley’s fluid dance to its best. The highlight is undoubtedly “Two Step”, a duet danced here by Robert Parker and Elisha Willis. What a loss Parker is going to be when he leaves soon to take up the artistic leadership at Elmhurst, the company’s associate school. Also memorable is the fiendishly tricky “Four Square” in which the four men have to clap the underlying rhythm the whole way through, as well as dancing.

“Take Five” can be seen on the Southern half of the company’s small-scale tour in Poole (May 8-9) and Truro (May 11-12).
“Lyric Pieces” can be seen on the Northern tour in Durham (May 8-9), York (May 11-12) and Buxton (May 15-16).
In the autumn, both works form part of the “Opposites Attract” programme at the Birmingham Hippodrome (September 26-29) and Sadler’s Wells, London (October 23-24).
See [/i]for details.[/i]

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

In the Birmingham Post, Fionnuala Bourke reports on the dust-up over the title of a new David Bintley work with the International Olympic Committee.

Birmingham Post

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

Richard Edmonds reviews David Bintley's "Far From the Madding Crowd" for The Stage.

The Stage

Laura Thompson reviews the same production for the Telegraph.


Author:  David [ Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

‘Far From the Madding Crowd’
Birmingham Royal Ballet
Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham; June 20 & 23, 2012

David Mead

Natasha Oughtred as Bathsheba Everdene. Photo Bill Cooper.JPG
Natasha Oughtred as Bathsheba Everdene. Photo Bill Cooper.JPG [ 37.21 KiB | Viewed 8933 times ]

Quite why audiences have never really bought into David Bintley’s “Far From the Madding Crowd” has always been a bit of a mystery. Thomas Hardy certainly has something of a reputation for being a difficult author to read, something I would contest, but his 19th-century turbulent tale of love, obsession, deceit and tragedy is perfect ballet material. Better still, it is so English.

Fundamentally, “Far From the Madding Crowd” is a romantic tragedy. The story charts the emotional rollercoaster ridden by Bathsheba Everdene, who has inherited a large farm, and her relationships with three men: solid, loyal employee and practical, down to earth former sheep farmer Gabriel Oak; the well-to-do neighbouring gentleman farmer, William Boldwood; and the dashing but two-timing cad, Sergeant Francis Troy.

Bathsheba is an intriguing and complex character. Like most of Hardy’s characters she is inherently virtuous, but she is a woman, an outwardly strong woman, in a man’s world. What makes her, and the story, so interesting is that while she can be captivating, there are things about her that make her rather less so. She can be controlled, but she can be wild and impulsive. All that calls for a very strong dancer-actor. Bintley originally postponed making the ballet until he “found his Bathsehba”, as he puts it, in Leticia Muller. Sixteen years on, he has found a new Bathsheba in the outstanding Natasha Oughtred.

Oughtred certainly has a winning smile, but the lady can act too. She switched from being shy, to spirited, wild and impulsive, to demure and considered, with ease. She made you believe. I couldn’t help noticing how, during the sheep shearing contest scene, she examined the fleeces and chatted animatedly with her maid. It was a small moment, but it illustrated just how totally immersed in the role she was. While all the steps and gestures were there, I was rather less persuaded by Elisha Willis interpretation. That same sense of reality wasn’t quite there. The emotion was sometimes a little muted, with sometimes too much a sense of detachment, even coolness.
Natasha Oughtred as Bathsheba Everdene and Jamie Bond as Sergeant Francis Troy. Photo Bill Cooper.JPG
Natasha Oughtred as Bathsheba Everdene and Jamie Bond as Sergeant Francis Troy. Photo Bill Cooper.JPG [ 24.31 KiB | Viewed 8933 times ]

Iain Mackay and Jamie Bond were both effective as Troy. Both their first encounters with Bathsheba (Willis and Oughtred respectively) on that moonlit night were spine-tingling affairs, Bintley’s choreography here starting relatively lightly before exploding into a passionate climax of MacMillan-esque proportions. Bond, though, definitely had the edge when it came to rage. His finding of Fanny Robin’s coffin in his ******* and subsequent dance with her corpse was heartstopping. Even that, though, was nothing compared to the boiling rage showed in the penultimate scene at Boldwood’s party. His anger, throwing of Oughtred to the floor and then grabbing of her arm as he attempted to reclaim her was so realistic and vicious you really worried for her.

Matthew Lawrence came as close to getting Boldwood right as anyone is likely to get. Solid, upright and formal, he is not given to excessive gesture, even though infatuated by Bathsheba. Body language and a simple look can say just as much as a series of steps, but it takes a clever dancer to be able to project that across the footlights. Lawrence did a great job.

I must also mention Jenna Roberts, who gave us a nicely judged innocent and caring Fanny Robin, who had a relationship with Troy, and whose death while giving birth to their child sparks off Troy’s downfall.

The ballet has plenty of humour too, especially in Rory Mackay’s shortsighted Joseph Poorgrass, and in the Greenhill Fair scene, an evocation of the typical 19th century fair complete with three-legged man, bearded lady, and a quite brilliant and hilarious telling of the Dick Turpin story that includes a pushbike disguised as a horse.

Although Hardy’s novel revolves around the central characters, it is just as much about the people of the time. Bintley taps into this well, following Hardy in portraying positively the everyday folk, be they farmworkers, merchants at the market or travelling entertainers. The whole company were on top form, playing their roles well, and clapping and stomping their way through Bintley’s folk infused ensemble dances with great enthusiasm. How great it was to see recognisable, traditional English country dance in a ballet. Everyone was helped along by Paul Reade’s wonderful score that so closely matched every mood that it and the dance became as one.

The Wessex setting and the nature and vagaries of farm life at the time are equally themes in themselves. Hayden Griffin’s set evokes perfectly the grassy but often treeless uplands of Dorset. Thanks to clever panels that slide in and out, the latticework set transforms in seconds from downland to Casterbridge market to farmyard, to farmhouse *******. Mark Jonathan’s lighting is equally impressive, especially in the way it gives a sense of the time of day. Much of the ballet takes place in the evening or early morning. This was a rural community, remember, and every hour of light was desperately important.

“Far From the Madding Crowd” is undoubtedly one of Bintley’s best ballets. It makes you laugh, it sends a chill down the spine, and it makes you cry. Let’s hope it’s not another ten years before we see it again, although I wonder seriously whether it will ever make a reappearance..

Meanwhile, good news for Birmingham Royal Ballet is that they are one of 34 arts groups to receive a share of the Government’s Catalyst Endowment Match Fund to help them build up endowment funds to meet day-to-day running costs. As with the other recipients, though, the company will only get the money when they have raised set amounts themselves. The Fund is part of a Government initiative to boost private giving to the arts.

Author:  David [ Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

Birmingham Royal Ballet celebrates funding announcement and further develops its relationship with one of the UK’s most philanthropic families

Further to my note above, Birmingham Royal Ballet will receive an award of £1,000,000 from the Catalyst Endowment Match Fund. Indeed, it is the only dance company amongst the 18 named recipients who will share a total grant of £30,500,000 to help build endowments that will provide an annual income.

Even better news is that the company has already achieved its target of raising an additional £1,000,000 as match funding, thanks t the generous support of the Cadbury Family, long time supporters of the Company since its relocation to Birmingham in 1990. The family has a long standing reputation for philanthropy, and for supporting the cultural and community life of the West Midlands.

The endowment fund to be established, in memory of the late Robin Cadbury and Lady Susan Cadbury, will create the Cadbury Dance Fellowship, a programme which will give up to 40 young dancers per year on-going teaching, training and mentoring. This reflects the interests of the family of supporting young dance talent at the early stages of their career and was a particular interest of Robin and Lady Susan Cadbury during their lifetimes.

In addition to the direct support of young dancers, it is planned that the Fellowship will further enhance the company's leadership credentials in developing dancers, community outreach work and enabling people top realise fully their creative potential.

Christopher Barron, Chief Executive Birmingham Royal Ballet said:

“Stimulating philanthropy is a big challenge facing the arts in the UK and is the means by which the great cultural institutions of the UK will sustain themselves and achieve their ambitions. Support from the Cadbury family will help BRB promote philanthropy, encourage a re-energised culture of giving in the West Midlands and protect the world-class standards of one of the UK’s leading dance companies, one of the ‘crown jewels’ of the West Midlands cultural scene”

Speaking on behalf of the Cadbury Family, Jayne Cadbury said:

“By supporting BRB in this way, the family have come together to ensure the interests that Robin and Lady Susan Cadbury were passionate about during their lifetimes are sustained in perpetuity. The gift reinforces the family’s values and sense of identity and builds on the rich history of Cadbury family philanthropy. The Cadbury Dance Fellowship will ensure that the family reputation is always associated with excellence and developing young talent and always be intrinsically linked with the creativity and cultural achievements of the West Midlands”

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

Ismene Brown reviews "The Grand Tour," "Faster" and "The Dream" at the Birmingham Hippodrome for The Arts Desk.

Arts Desk

Laura Thompson reviews the same program for the Telegraph.


Author:  David [ Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12

‘The Grand Tour’, ‘Faster’, ‘The Dream’
Birmingham Royal Ballet
Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham; June 27, 2012

David Mead

Elisha Willis as Gertrude Lawrence and Matthew Lawrence as Noel Coward in The Grand Tour. Photo Simon Tomkinson.JPG
Elisha Willis as Gertrude Lawrence and Matthew Lawrence as Noel Coward in The Grand Tour. Photo Simon Tomkinson.JPG [ 79.93 KiB | Viewed 8798 times ]

Broadway choreographer Joe Layton’s 1971 ballet “The Grand Tour” is about the antics of various Hollywood stars, other celebrities and an American spinster and a couple of Italian stowaways aboard a 1920s cruise ship. The costumes and art deco promenade deck set were most lively. Sadly, the ballet was rather becalmed.

I can imagine that it could be wickedly funny, and when first made it probably was, but it needs the right cast, and it needs some knowledge of the various characters involved. Most of the audience would probably have known who Noel Coward was and recognised him, although rumour has it that at least one dancer in the company did not. The likes of Gertrude Lawrence, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, George Bernard Shaw, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas would, I fear, merely have been names on a cast sheet.

Although each does get to show their character through dance, it’s a ballet that relies much on the ability to say lots while doing little. The little gestures and looks are, if anything, more important than the dance. Matthew Lawrence, very good at just such roles, was an excellent Coward.

There is humour, but it is often underplayed, very subtle and, on this occasion at least, fell largely flat only rarely raising an audible laugh from the audience. One of the few smile inducing moments came when Fairbanks (Joseph Caley, looking very smart in a golf sweater) took Toklas (Jade Heusen) for a waltz, only to be interrupted by Stein (danced by a man, Rory Mackay), who proceeded to lead her in a tango. Stein was actually one of the more interesting characters, stern and straight faced, but with a suggestion of a wicked sense of humour underneath. Most charming of among the cast was Victoria Marr as the sweet, naïve and somewhat awestruck American tourist. She also gets the best dance, a pas de deux with handsome Chief Steward Jamie Bond. She never, though, loses her awkwardness. It’s a nice and realistic touch.
Elisha Willis and Iain Mackay in Faster. Photo Bill Cooper.JPG
Elisha Willis and Iain Mackay in Faster. Photo Bill Cooper.JPG [ 41.79 KiB | Viewed 8798 times ]

Trying to depict sport in dance is a tricky business. Many have tried. Few have succeeded. So it was a pleasure to find that Bintley’s “Faster”, created in response to London’s staging of the 2012 Olympics, was rather good. The choreography, which comes in scenes related to different sports around a lengthy central pas de deux, is strong, athletic and makes clever use of sporty motifs and movements without every getting too much like mime or making them too obvious.

Bintley wanted to call the ballet “Faster Higher Stronger” after the Olympic motto, but was refused permission by the IOC. Someone needs to get a sense of perspective. I know commercial realities are behind it all, but I would suggest that using it here would do more good for the Games than any association with fast food mega-companies and the like.

It opens with a salute to the crowds before setting off on a series of scenes based around particular sports, the dancers all in skin-tight takes on gymnastics wear, swimwear, cycling bodysuits, basketball sweats and athletics one and two-pieces by young designer Becs Andrews, who recently worked with Didy Veldman on “Momo”, her new work for Bern:Ballett in Switzerland. There are lots of very flat stomachs and sleek bodies and legs to be seen.

Bintley moves on neatly between sections with none outstaying their welcome. Best are the basketball men, bouncing as they dribble, leap and shoot imaginary balls. There was more than a hint of the Jets in West Side Story here, I thought. The gymnastics trio of Ambra Vallo, Jamie Bond and William Bracewell was equally impressive. Vallo was trained as a gymnast and it is difficult to imagine anyone else in the company performing the difficult balances with such aplomb. The central pas de deux between Iain Mackay and Elisha Willis featured many difficult balances and lifts, some so tricky they still looked a little uncertain. Rounding things off are the athletes, who appear to the racing head on towards the audience, jockeying for position as they do so.

Everything is helped along by another quality score from Australian Matthew Hindson, who worked with Bintley on his equally impressive “e=mc2”.

Concluding the evening was Ashton’s “The Dream” in which Chi Cao was a most stern Oberon. Nao Sakuma had all the steps but a fairy queen is not really her thing; and does she really need to wear a blonde wig? Matthew Dingman followed up his superb portrayal of Gabriel Oak in the previous week’s Far From the Madding Crowd, with a most mischievous Puck.
Of the lovers, Carol-Anne Millar was perfect as the confused Helena. She has developed a wicked sense of how to do comedy in dance without every going totally over the top.

Author:  David [ Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Birmingham Royal Ballet 2011-12


Birmingham Royal Ballet has announced the following:


Jenna Roberts is promoted from First Soloist to Principal

Angela Paul is promoted from Soloist to First Soloist
Laetitia Lo Sardo is promoted from Soloist to First Soloist
Chou Tzu-Chao is promoted from Soloist to First Soloist
Mathias Dingman is promoted from Soloist to First Soloist

Arancha Baselga is promoted from First Artist to Soloist
Laura Purkiss is promoted from First Artist to Soloist
James Barton is promoted from First Artist to Soloist
Jonathan Caguioa is promoted from First Artist to Soloist
Tom Rogers is promoted from First Artist to Soloist

Laura-Jane Gibson is promoted from Artist to First Artist
Yvette Knight is promoted from Artist to First Artist
Delia Mathews is promoted from Artist to First Artist
Callie Roberts is promoted from Artist to First Artist
William Bracewell is promoted from Artist to First Artist
Oliver Till is promoted from Artist to First Artist

Joining the company for 2012-3:

Momoko Hirata will return to Birmingham Royal Ballet and resume her First Soloist contract following 18 months dancing with Angel Corella’s company in Spain

Miki Mizutani from Japan, graduate of English National Ballet School, will join as an Artist

Alys Shee from Canada, graduate of the Academy of Ballet and Jazz School for the Canadian Ballet Theatre and a former dancer with ABT II will join as an Artist

Lachlan Monaghan from Australia, graduate of The Royal Ballet School, will join as an Artist

Ana Albutashvili, soloist from the State Ballet of Georgia will join as an Artist

Leaving the company:

Robert Parker leaves Birmingham Royal Ballet after eighteen years with the Company, thirteen of those as a Principal. Robert will take up the role of Artistic Director of Elmhurst School for Dance in September

Gaylene Cummerfield - Following a fifteen year career with Australian Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, Gaylene leaves the company to become a full-time mother

Page 2 of 2 All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group