Bite-sized ballets an ideal intro to genre
THERE'S a reason why Plymouth's Theatre Royal remains the pre-eminent venue in the South West — the management aren't afraid to do high-brow.
Sometimes it's good to be taken out of your comfort zone — in my case opera or many works of William Shakespeare — and try something a little different. I wouldn't know my grand jeté from my pas de deux, but to enjoy the show currently being staged by the Birmingham Royal Ballet you don't need to. An open mind and quick eye are all that's needed to enjoy the work of the company, which continues until Sunday.
I caught BSB's Autumn Celebration — three relatively short works staged one after the other on the same night. As a primer to the world of ballet, it proved first rate and easy on the eye.
Stage one was The Grand Tour — a glimpse into the art deco times of the rich and famous between the wars. Set on a trans-Atlantic cruise liner, gentle fun was poked at celebrities such as Noel Coward, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, danced by the impressive Iain Mackay. The action moved at breakneck pace to Faster, a ballet representation of the Olympic summer. This was frenetic stuff dipping into all sorts of sources, including a basketball team with the swaggering step of the Jets in West Side Story. Any thoughts of male ballet dancers being cissies — a common misapprehension — were quickly dispelled by what appeared to be middleweight boxers throwing themselves round the stage with a lightness of touch which beggared belief. Having had the contemporary and the progressive, it was on to the traditional to finish — The Dream, a bite-sized take on a Midsummer Night's Dream with music by Mendelsshon. Fairies in tutus, heroines in diaphanous party dresses, strapping lads in frock coats: this was ballet recognisable even by the beginner. I enjoyed it all immensely.
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The Autumn Celebration finishes tonight. Tomorrow, the company switch to Swan Lake, which is being staged until Sunday with a matinee performance on Sunday.