IT IS a greater treat than York perhaps realises to have Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) in town for two days, alongside the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Philip Ellis: even with a full theatre, the company requires a large subsidy to survive.

Friday’s triple bill gave ample proof of the sheer quality of dance this country can still generate, albeit with a cast assembled from five continents.

Allegri Diversi, to choreography by BRB’s director David Bintley, uses two works by Rossini, arranged as a clarinet concerto. Here the fluent soloist was Ian Scott. The corps of six danced the opening theme and variations with classical grace before the central pair, Momoko Hirata and César Morales, brought shapely lines to the score’s slow movement. They found a further spotlight in the finale’s cadenza, amid polished pirouettes that reflected the clarinet’s dazzling roulades.

The last movement of Beethoven’s Quartet Op 130, played here by 12 strings, made a dramatic backcloth for Hans van Manen’s Grosse Fuge, here restaged by Mea Venema. Four bare-chested men in maxi-length black skirts gradually softened their muscular angularity, as they engineered an erotic rendezvous with four gentler ladies in Beethoven’s closing cavatina.

The Centre And Its Opposite was less immediately engaging. Geometric, even verging on the robotic, Garry Stewart’s choreography to the industrial rhythms of Huey Benjamin’s electronic tape eventually impressed, if only through the dancers’ tireless concentration.

But if cuts are in the offing, BRB must surely be spared. We need them.