Autumn Celebration, Sadler’s Wells, London
Monday 29 October 2012
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Autumn Celebration is overpacked but full of energy. From the sprinting dancers of David Bintley’s Faster to the flitting Shakespearean fairies of The Dream, this is a company in exuberant form.
The evening opens with The Grand Tour, a period romp created by Broadway choreographer Joe Layton in 1971. A gaggle of 1920s celebrities – from Noël Coward and George Bernard Shaw to silent movie vamp Theda Bara – embark on an ocean liner, where they are observed by an excitable American tourist. The music is by Coward, adapted by Hershy Kay. It’s a slight work, but Jade Heusen is sweetly dignified as the overawed tourist.
Faster, created by BRB’s director David Bintley for the Olympic year, has a driving new score by Matthew Hindson and bold, athletic dancing that keeps pace with it. Sporty costumes by Becs Andrews underline the sports involved – some quilting on the dashing female fencers, two piece running costumes, stylised judo outfits. The synchronised swimmers announce themselves, sweeping on in formation, smiles at the ready.
There are too many false endings, but Bintley has fun, mixing observant comedy and demanding steps. The athletes’ twitchy preparations go from warm-up stretches to signs of nerves; quick gestures deftly establish which sport we’re watching. The Birmingham dancers race through it, with powerful dancing from Céline Gittens and Tyrone Singleton in a fierce martial arts duet.
The company dance The Dream with verve. Frederick Ashton’s 1964 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is airy but fiendishly difficult. I’ve never seen BRB look more at home in it: they whiz through Ashton’s steps, with quick footwork and relaxed upper bodies.
As Titania, Natasha Oughtred has windblown speed in her solos, darting into changes of direction. Her Oberon, William Bracewell, has regal authority in the mime scene. He dances with smooth line, steady turns and a clean jump. Tzu-Chao Chu’s Puck has spectacular technique, but lacks nuance as a performer: the whirring spins are let down by the permagrin.
The young lovers scamper through their quarrels, with particular swagger from Matthew Lawrence’s Demetrius. Feargus Campbell has an open innocence as Bottom, remembering his transformation into a donkey with endearing wonder. In the finale, the corps de ballet of fairies imitate him – in the most fairyish way imaginable, repeating his big hoofing step with bright delicacy.
Tour continues to Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, 30-31 October. Box office 029 2063 6464.
Arts & Ents blogs
St Patrick’s Day 2014: The worst Irish accents in film history
Under The Skin, film review: Scarlett Johansson is full-blooded as femme fatale alien
Grace Dent on TV: EDL Girls: Don’t Call Me Racist BBC 3
Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
Chalkie Davies' stunning rock photographs: The Clash, Springsteen, Bowie and more
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Sailor who kissed a nurse in famous WWII photograph dies aged 86
- 3 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 4 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 5 Lady Gaga has struggled with eating disorders in the past, so it's indefensible that she's glamourising bulimia in her SXSW set