Birmingham Royal Ballet; Shakespeare Triple Bill
WINK (Choreography Jessica Lang, Music Jakub Ciupinski), MOOR’S PAVANE (Choreography Jose Limon, Music Henry Purcell), SHAKESPEARE SUITE (Choreography David Bintley Music Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhdorn)
Runs 2h 10m, two intervals, Birmingham Hippodrome
Tickets: 0121 338 5000
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 25 06 16
Varied, multi-faceted, yet a satisfying whole
It seems an age ago that we were all celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. However, this triple bill is part of that celebration, and taken as a whole they provide fascinating insights into Shakespeare’s themes.
WINK, choreographed by Jessica Lang is a new work – premiered in May this year. It’s built around five of the sonnets and while we know the main players are WS, the Dark Lady, and the mysterious WH, this piece is not character led. The four men and four women dancers, simply dressed in plain white, faces whitened out, are conduits through which, through their movement, incorporeal relationships and emotions can be expressed, all the more powerful since the communication is direct.
Lang’s choreography is inventive and fluid; Ciupinski’s score underpinning all with sensitivity. The dancers are elegantly flexible and, although uncharactered, support all with commitment and powerful truth. It’s a most successful ballet.
THE MOOR’S PAVANE, Othello and Desdemona’s tragic tale, is from 1949. It does not show its age. Intriguingly this most emotional of stories is told through the distancing lens of formal Renaissance dance. It is a work of beauty, almost scientifically dissecting the tale in front of us. Dancers move easefully through shifting relationships and offer us beautiful images, time after time.
The evening shifts dramatically for the final section, SHAKESPEARE SUITE. First performed in 1999 it is a succession of cameos exploring moments in many characters’ complex lives. It is an upbeat ballet, offering a joyous fusion of jazz, beat and other styles underpinned with quality classical style. The upbeat nature makes some sections uncomfortably edgy (Kate and Petruchio’s abusive relationship, though danced with great charm, come to mind). Other sections work superbly: a deliciously louche Richard III seduces Queen Anne, while a mesmerising Lady Macbeth encourages her husband.
The BRB orchestra is on top form, tricky solos in Ciupinski’s score for WINK helping dance sections to soar. Colin Towns’ Mask Orchestra (Shakespeare Suite) brings Ellington and Strayhorn into the auditorium. Triple bills, which I always enjoy, can sometimes feel like one ballet followed by another; in this Shakespeare trio, the different aspects explored add up to a satisfying whole.
Ruth Brill, Karla Doorbar, Celine Gittens, Momoko Hirata Yijing Zhang, James Barton, Tzu-Chao Chou, Mathias Dingman, Cesar Morales Tyrone Singleton
The Moor: Brandon Lawrence
The Moor’s Wife: Jenna Roberts
His Friend: Iain Mackay
His Friend’s Wife: Yijing Zhang
THE SHAKESPEARE SUITE
Hamlet: Lewis Turner
Petruchio: Lachlan Monaghan
Kate: Angela Paul
Lady Anne: Yijing Zhang
Richard III Rory Mackay
Lady Macbeth: Celine Gittens
Macbeth: Iain Mackay
Bottom: James Barton
Titania Laura Day
Othello: Brandon Lawrence
Desdemona: Delia Mathews
Romeo: Edivaldo Souza da Silva
Juliet: Yaoqian Shang