Sunday, 9 October 2011

BRB's Autumn Glory

Sometimes my husband, the wonderful Mr. B, knows just how to lift me when I'm feeling sad. And yesterday, he did just that by surprising me with tickets to BRB's triple bill, Autumn Glory. He only booked the tickets at about 2 yesterday afternoon, but by 3.30 we were on the road to Birmingham to watch my favourite ballet company. 

I always feel a (slightly misplaced) sense of pride at the BRB. I think they're wonderful. They are technically amazing, have a fantastic repertoire, always put on a brilliant show, but more to the point, they are a first rate predominantly classical company based outside of London. And the fact that their home is only a 40 minute drive from where I live makes me feel like they're part of my cultural makeup more than any London based company could.
The beautiful Symphonic Variations (image courtesy of BRB)
Autumn Glory showcased BRB in all their glory. Of the three ballets performed, my favourite was definitely Ashton's beautifully classical Symphonic Variations, although I think it seemed out of place in the Autumn bill, since it seemed so evocative of Spring in its freshness, verdure and precision. I felt very privileged to see both Natasha Oughtred and Elisha Willis on stage as well as Cesare Morales and Jamie Bond. Their technical prowess and clean lines were stunning to watch, especially in the moments where they were accompanied only by the pianist - I loved this, as it is so rare to see a ballet just to piano, and that is, after all where most of us began dance, accompanied by a single piano. 
Chess themed ballet - how odd! (image courtesy of BRB)
Checkmate was an oddity, in my opinion. I was amused by the costumes, with the pawns looking like 1950s air stewardesses, and the setting, on a giant chessboard, was obvious. The movement, however, seemed a bit contrived: I think dance has come such a long way since this was choreographed, and if you gave the theme to a modern choreographer like Wayne McGregor or Stanton Welch, the resulting  ballet would be exciting and groundbreaking, but this being created back in the first half of the 20th century, it felt constrained by a lack of athleticism and an over-reliance on repeated motifs. It also was the first ballet I have ever been to where Mr. B had to explain what was going on to me, rather than the other way round, since the 'characters' moved as chess pieces do, and I've never played chess, so to some extent it was lost on me! Mr. B, however, thought it was clever how each playing piece was brought to life with a character befitting the character behind their chess piece.
Ambra Vallo was brilliant as the plucky Pol! (image courtesy of BRB)
I was expecting to hate Pineapple Pol but actually found myself laughing out loud and beaming from ear to ear by the end. It was just joyful. The score, and the plot, is a Gilbert and Sullivan fancy: Basically a good looking sailor comes into town and all the women go mad for him. So mad they all pretend to be sailors and stow away on his ship with hilarious consequences! The acting in this proved that BRBs dancers are excellent character actors as well as technically brilliant dancers. The characterisation of the women was completely un-p.c. but incredibly funny. Definitely a family classic!

So, although I started the day feeling a little sad and sorry for myself, by the end of the day, I felt uplifted and on a serotonin high! Thanks Mr. B, you're great, and thanks BRB, you never fail to impress me, I'm so pleased you're my 'local' company.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like so much fun! i wish there were more companies where i lived.

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