Summer Celebration: The Grand Tour, Faster (premiere), The Dream
Birmingham Royal Ballet on tour
Runs: 3h, two intervals
Review: Alexander Ray, 27 06 12, Hippodrome Birmingham
Something for everyone, including a stunning athletic premiere.
The premiere in this triple bill is inspired by the British Olympic games. I wouldn’t exactly say it celebrates them because the dance is about endurance, concentration, determination, pain, need to do better and better, victory and more pain. I suppose you could say it celebrates the athletes and their achievements. No matter; it’s a cracking piece – engrossing, thrilling and all-encompassing.
Interestingly it’s all the more astonishing put in context, as it is, by the light-weight Grand Tour – they complement each other perfectly. Grand Tour brings together the great and the celebrated of the 1930s, all friends and acquaintances of Noel Coward. They’re all cruising to America. It’s delightfully silly and funny, with a gorgeous duet from the two stowaways (Laura Purkiss and Kit Holdern), and a warm American Lady from Victoria Marr who gently encourages us to enter her world. The whole is set to a collection of Noel Coward’s music; choreographed with great wit by Joe Layon.
Choreographer David Bintley has his second collaboration with composer Matthew Hindson for FASTER and has a large company of dancers, too – 21 of them. If winning in sport is all about pushing yourself to your limits (and beyond), then Bintley’s dancers seem to be pushing themselves beyond their limits. Dance metaphor and the real world merge before our very eyes in an explosive display of physical grace, power and beauty.
The dance never seems to stop, dancers approach a pose, but move on as soon as it’s achieved. There is no rest. It is this, more than anything else, that draws us into this world.
The first section is about aggression, the need to win. Dance partners Hindson’s score perfectly, for the music is all metal – from brass to bells – and percussion. (Is this an echo of Mars I hear before me?) Later, Hindson’s score builds on minimalist rhythms, small patterns endlessly repeated. The dance too is stripped away; this is about speed, it’s about repetition over marathon time, it’s about single-minded perseverance.
Yet from this Bintley-Hindson find time for repose, a sequence of lyrical beauty.
For this section of the programme we see before us, not dancers, but athletes. This marvellous, ensemble work will surely thrill us for years to come.
The programme concludes with the Ashton choreographed Dream (Mendelssohn score). It looks beautiful with a fine Puck from Mathias Dingman and a touching partnership of Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma (Oberon and Titania).
But it’s the athletes that remain with me.
The Grand Tour
Music: Noel Coward
Freely adapted and orchestrated by: Nershy6 Kay
Choreography: Joe Layon
Designs: John Conklin
Lighting: Peter Teigen
Music: Matthew Hindson
Choreography: David Bintley
Designs: Becs Andrews
Lighting: Peter Mumford
Music: Felix Mendelssohn
Choreography: Frederick Ashton
Design: Peter Farmer
Lighting: John B Read