Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Review: A glutton’s ballet feast

A SPOKESMAN for the Wycombe Swan told me in excited tones that ballet is to figure more prominently at the

A SPOKESMAN for the Wycombe Swan told me in excited tones that ballet is to figure more prominently at the Wycombe Swan in the future. What a start to an improved entertainment strategy!

On this opening night, Birmingham Royal Ballet performed three very different styles of dance with grace, precision, passion, comedy or restraint, as the pieces required. I felt like a glutton at a feast.

The first, Lyric Pieces, was a collection of musical excerpts from Edward Grieg, choreographed by Jessica Lang. The music varied in tempo but was seamlessly bound by outstanding dance performances. We saw peasant folk dancing, as well as elves and phantoms of Nordic influence, yet this was not just a ballet performance.

The set included a series of installations, large rolls of pleated paper manipulated by the dancers, which morphed from walls to stools to arches.

The dancers shaped themselves to join or move from within the paper forms and so become almost magically concealed or conjured. Dancers grouped and then split, shaping their bodies to take on the form of the installations.

Dressed in grey and performing in a dim light almost reminiscent of dusk, the dancers thus formed an elegant installation of art in motion. This symphony of music, dance and sculpture is a real joy, creating true harmony for the eyes and ears.

The second performance was a collection of the more familiar classical pas de deux. Each of the excellent couples performed excerpts from three very different ballets: Giselle, Pavane and Don Quixote. Thus we were treated to a real taste of romance, followed by sensual elegance and finishing with extraordinary passionate energy.

The dances showcased the talents of Maureya Lebowitz with William Bracewell (Giselle), Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence (Pavane) and Momoko Hirata and Tzu-Chao Chou (Don Quixote). The latter pair were quite outstanding given the energy required for such a performance.

Finally, we were treated to a very funny and cartoonesque three-scene ballet, Pineapple Poll, set to music by Sullivan. The ballet, performed in exaggerated puppet-like movement, was glued together by the performances of Iain Mackay as Captain Belaye and Maureya Lebowitz as Pineapple Poll, with a strong performance by the awkward Blanche danced by Laura Day. I left laughing and happy to be alive. Bring on more dance, Wycombe Swan!

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Wycombe Swan

Tuesday, May 21

Elizabeth Rooke

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