BRB MIDSCALE TOUR - SOUTHWEST - 2011
For the past few years in the Spring, Birmingham Royal Ballet has split into two parts and toured smaller venues in their target areas of the North East and South West of England.
This year, sadly, the tour was only for one week and I had to decide whether to go North or South. I chose South and saw six performances in Yeovil and Truro.
These tours, since their inception, have been one of the highlights of my ballet-watching year. The smaller venues provide a more intimate viewing of the programme and usually the more junior members of the company get plenty of opportunities to shine. Additionally, these tours show over and over again how the company members meld together and the sense of “one-ness” is terrific.
The programme this year was slightly different in that we had one short work and excerpts from the upcoming international and main scale tour. In the South West, the evening started with David Bintley’s sublime Allegri Diversi.
Allegri Diversi is set to two pieces of music by Rossini and is for 3 couples in an ensemble piece and one couple in a long duet. There is lots of fast intricate footwork and some interesting lifts. The three couples perform together, singly and in twos and threes. The duet is very intricate with some gorgeous solos for the leading couple. All three leading couples were superb in their roles. It was interesting to see how different the leading lady’s role looked when danced by Jenna Roberts, who is taller and leggier than Nao Sakuma and Elisha Willis. Chi Cao, Cesar Morales and Joe Caley were their perfect foils, all three showing a clarity of line and deftness of foot that was a delight to watch. In the ensemble I particularly enjoyed William Bracewell (who only joined the company last August and is IMHO “one to watch”), Mathias Dingman and Chris Rogers-Wilson as well as Vicki Marr, Lei Zhao and Samara Downs.
I wasn’t sure how the excerpts would work but actually they worked really well. It was different to see the company dancing to recorded music rather than a live orchestra. We saw the “nocturne” duet from Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, the corn duet and some ensemble work from Coppelia, the gpdd from Sleeping Beauty and the evening finished with the flute dance, Fanny Essler pdd and Clog Dance from La Fille Mal Gardee.
The Dream duet is divine in its delicacy and complexity and I really enjoyed all the performances we saw.
I think the Coppelia excerpts were the hardest to pull off out-of-context but Vicki Marr, as one of Swanilda’s friends, beautifully mimed the significance of the ear of corn leading into the attractive duet for Swanilda and Franz. Of all six performances, I particularly admired that of Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao. They really gave meaning to the roles out of their usual context and danced beautifully. Chi was particularly vivid when “saying” to the friends “couldn’t you just pretend to have heard the corn rattling?”!
Nao and Chi, for me, gave the performance of the week with their one performance of the Sleeping Beauty gpdd. It showed off their technique, their acting and their exquisite musicality - it was absolutely gorgeous.
We had two superb Widow Simone’s during the week. David Morse has been dancing this role for at least as long as I have been watching ballet and he gives a beautifully subtle performance that brings out both the laughs and the pathos of the role. Rory MacKay is much newer to the role and is absolutely hilarious! He does not over-egg the pudding and his affection for Lise is very obvious. All the Lises and Colas that we saw were terrific but Carole-Ann Millar and Joe Caley brought a particular enthusiasm to their performances that left one with a giant smile on one’s face!
It had been an excellent week and I am now waiting with bated breath for next year’s midscale tour.
BRB - Midscale Tour Southwest - 2011
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