Review: Birminghan Royal Ballet, Theatre Royal, York

The Birmingham Royal Ballet gave a wonderful showcase performance of works from their current repertoire.

They are simultaneously touring the south of England, but we surely must have had the better half of the ensemble; there was no sign of this being a cut-down version. Accompanied by pianist Jonathan Higgins and by members of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, including four french horns, some exceptional dancers were featured. We got Iain Mackay, and presumably Poole got Jenna Roberts. We were not shortchanged. Jessica Lang’s choreography for Lyric Pieces set to piano music by Grieg, was possibly the most modern work, but was immediately attractive and accessible, with a tongue-in-cheek soulfulness. The set for this work was made from an infinitely flexible light paper and textile honeycomb material which made walls, paths, pillars and bridges in the hands of the dancers.

The highlight for me, and many others, was Clog Dance and Lily Of Laguna from David Bintley’s Hobson’s Choice. These short and charming pieces, featuring Laëtitia Lo Sardo and James Barton, were immediately appealing. Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations was sexy and circus; and Petipa’s choreography for Minkus’ Don Quixote, more formal but lively, completed the short middle section.

John Cranko’s 1951 Pineapple Poll, set to Charles Mackerras’ arrangement of Sullivan’s music, with Osbert Lancaster’s set design, ended the performance. Cheerful and comic and fresh as a buttercup, this lovely lollipop showed no sign of its age.

If only ballet were an Olympic sport. On this evidence there would be British gold medals in abundance.

Review by Charles Hunt

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