CARD GAME, music Igor Stravinsky, choreography John Cranko
SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE, music Richard Rogers, choreography George Balantine
ELITE SYNCOPATIONS, music Scott Joplin and others, choreography Kenneth MacMillann
Birmingham Royal Ballet on Tour
Runs: 2h 15m, two intervals
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, Birmingham Hippodrome, 19 02 14
Come and join the party.
This particular triple bill from BRB is pure joy. A strong sense of ensemble underpins all three works, with the dancers projecting an infectious sense of pleasure in their work.
CARD GAME, choreographed by John Cranko, offers us, perhaps, the most original dance language; at times almost in two dimensions, often small movements crowd in and create an effect that is both disturbing or disorientating as well as humorous. Stravinsky’s score is engaging as this tale of internecine warfare in a pack of cards unfolds with chaos aided and abetted by the Joker – Jamie Bond creates the perfect balance of wickedness and charm in his characterisation.
SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE was choreographed by Balanchine as part of the musical ON YOUR TOES. The joy here is seeing jazz dance transported on to another level by the skill of the BRB dancers. The pastiche narrative readily unfolds for us. Central to this piece are The Hoofer and The Striptease Girl. These roles are superbly danced by Tyrone Singleton and Celine Gittens. Together, they dance as one, mixing emotion and wit, and both combining grace with power. They are mesmerising.
ELITE SYNCOPATIONS stems from the 1970s; a time when THE STING brought Scott Joplin’s (and others’) ragtime widespread appeal. I haven’t seen this piece for years, but it’s lost none of its huge charm. A big open stage filled with brightly clad dancers and a band, forms the backdrop for a sequence of solos, duets, small groups and full ensemble dances. It moves easefully from the romantic (Jenna Roberts and Yasuo Atsuji) to the comedic – or perhaps rom-com (Yvette Knight with James Barton). With changes of tone in the dance and a cleverly selected sequence of rags, the work as a whole avoids the trap of sameness. With its witty designs it’s a perfect conclusion to the evening.