Birmingham Royal Ballet’s triple bill at Sadler’s Wells was a delightful and varied evening of dance. The programme opened with Ruth Brill’s interesting 2017 work Arcadia, danced to John Harle’s stunning saxophone accompaniment. Tyrone Singleton, a sinuous and predatory representation of the god Pan, weaves in and out of shadows cast on the stage against a background of huge arching trees, lurking and watching three nymphs. Through the influence of the goddess Selene (the elegant Delia Mathews) he is reformed, shows more respect, and becomes a better leader. This wishful topical narrative seemed a little forced, but Atena Ameri’s stylish designs and Peter Teigen’s lighting were highly effective, and the Chorus performed their bouncy choreography with energy. (more…)

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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s triple bill with ballets by Kenneth MacMillan, Gillian Lynne after Robert Helpmann, and David Bintley, is a subtle commemoration of the centenary of the First World War. The approach to the subject is oblique compared with the English National Ballet’s innovative programme Lest We Forget, premiered at the Barbican earlier this year, but it works.

Kenneth MacMillan’s La Fin du Jour evokes the heady days of the years between the wars, the dancers wearing in pastel coloured costumes, their fashionable sportiness reminiscent of some of the later Diaghilev ballets. They are Bright Young Things but they move like puppets on strings in their cream coloured box, from which we glimpse a garden through a door at the back of the stage. The two principal women dancers (Arancha Baselga and Karla Doorbar) morph from swimmers into aviators as their male attendants sweep them through the air, or turn them on point, slowly spinning them like skaters, feet held high behind their heads, weather vanes revolving in the wind. At the end one of them symbolically closes the door to the garden. An idyll is over and war is coming. (more…)

Writing about the Female Choreographers’ Collective performance in October whetted my curiosity as to what might be discernible differences between the work of female and male choreographers; I approached other performances viewed recently with my antennae thus attuned…

To the Old Fire Station on 20th October to see Cecilia MacFarlane’s reflection on the tragic accidental death of her son “I’ll leave you to yourself then…”.  A small, pugnacious figure with cropped white hair, Cecilia began encased in a fragile egg of white mesh with blood red ribbons, painfully hatching, her face contorted as she slowly emerged.  (more…)