A review of the Birmingham Royal Ballet by Luke Jennings in The Guardian.
The evening's final piece is Frederick Ashton's Les Rendezvous, a flirtatious caprice whose lighter-than-air style conceals choreography of considerable sophistication. The original 1933 production, designed by William Chappell, was danced in white Regency costumes; the set was a pair of ornamental French park gates. A redesign in 2000 by Anthony Ward saw the men dressed in garish blazers and boaters, the women in polka dots, and the set changed to toy-town trees and a bloated orange sun. The work has never quite recovered from this makeover; the men's costumes, in particular, are quite breathtakingly hideous. Perhaps this contributed to an unconvincing first-night performance by the lead couple, Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma. He was dour and unsmiling; she sailed competently enough through her steps, but failed to imbue her dancing with any Ashtonian wit or fizz.