I would like to echo Janet’s comments, it really was a wonderful night, my first time at the Evening of Music and Dance. I arrived feeling quite stressed as I got a bit lost between my hotel and the Symphony Hall, but I very quickly recovered my equilibrium as Nick Owen brought out BRB’s ‘newest recruit’, Carlos Acosta. I was really inspired by his enthusiasm and pleased that he made a point of emphasising that there is world class ballet right here in Birmingham. This got a big cheer, and rightly so.
The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, expertly conducted by Paul Murphy, sounded glorious throughout the whole evening, and of the pieces that they played without dancers I particularly enjoyed the Intermezzo from Puccini’s ‘Manon Lescaut’, and the waltz from Lehar’s ‘The Merry Widow’ - I felt really caught up in the gorgeous sweep of this piece, which I hadn’t expected to do. Oh, and the Waltz and Midnight from ‘Cinderella’, which I adore (see below).
I truly loved every piece of dancing, and would find it hard to pick a favourite. Samara Downs was a most exquisite Odette, beautifully partnered by Yasuo Atsuji in the White Act pdd from ‘Swan Lake’. I completely agree with Janet that it must be so difficult to dance pieces like this out of context and yet bring out the emotion, but they succeeded so well. Although I was disappointed not to see the duet from ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and Delia Matthews (and wish her a speedy recovery), I felt most fortunate to see the pdd from Cinderella - absolutely one of my favourites and one of my favourite pieces of ballet music - there is such a sense of yearning in it that it never fails to make me tear up, and this was no exception. We were told that Tyrone Singleton and Miki Mizutani had only had two days to rehearse it, which I thought extraordinary given the absolute security with which they danced witheach other - that incredible lift! I was deeply moved by them both. I have never before seen ‘Two Pigeons’ - this is something I need to rectify, clearly! The music, the beautiful bird-like choreography, Maureya Lebowitz and Max Maslen’s dancing, the two pigeons themselves- all so swooningly romantic. A few more tears!
In the second half of the programme, Kit Holder’s new piece The Breath We Took was a delight. Danced to Greig’s lyrical adagio from the Piano Concerto, it had a lovely, stately feel to it. There was a real emotional intensity in the dancing of Céline Gittens and Brandon Lawrence, and this was beautifully reflected by the two other pairs of dancers, Alys Shee and Rosanna Ely, with Alexander Yap and Haoliang Feng. I would definitely like to see this piece again. The balcony scene from ‘Romeo and Juliet’, another of my favourites, was full of passion and longing. Cesar Morales was a boyish, fervent Romeo and Yaoquian Shang a ravishing Juliet. They absolutely epitomised the heady, giddy rush of first love, and I was once again very moved. The finale, the grand pdd from ‘Don Quixote’ was a tour de force from Momoko Hirata and Matthias Dingman, full of charisma, fireworks and high spirits. A fabulous end to the evening.
It was lovely to meet Janet and have a quick chat on the way out. I have already made a note of next year’s Evening of Music and Dance, it’s not something I want to miss again.