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  1. Um, if you're not a fan of gushing praise you'll probably want to take this opportunity to finish the ironing. WHAT A SHOW. Birmingham Royal Ballet are a company on absolute fire at the moment. This triple bill, as a showcase of the immense depth and diversity of their talent, is second to none. Les Rendezvous was a lovely start to the show. The setting was simple, the costumes sumptuous, and the dancing full of summery joy. I'm not necessarily Ashton's biggest fan, but this was a candy-store delight. While it was danced beautifully by all the cast, two things really stood out in Les Rendezvous. Firstly, just how strong the dancing of the men at BRB is. It's a recurring theme for my reviews of the company. My ballet buddy and I had a chat in the interval about this and she suggested that this might be partly because David Bintley carefully picks pieces and choreographs ballets with such strong parts for male dancers. In any case, I've mentioned how talented they are before and I'm happy to repeat myself. The second thing that stood out is just how good Laura Day is. I'd enjoyed her performance in Card Game earlier in the season, but I'd suspected it was largely because the role suited her so perfectly. But here she shone whenever she was on stage. It's possibly the highest compliment I can pay at the moment when I say that Laura strongly reminded me of ENB's superb Nancy Osbaldston, as Nancy is already one of my all time favourite dancers. They both share a small stature, but actually the connection is that they both have a sublime grace of movement. It's agonisingly hard to describe what I mean, but there's that indefinable something that makes them both an absolute pleasure to watch. I note from the programme that she was born in Cheltenham, so I hope she had lots of family and friends in to witness what a talent she's becoming. Kin. If Jenna Roberts were to declare that she doesn't love contemporary choreography above everything else, I would eat my trousers. It simply can't be possible to act the way she inhabited her role in Kin. She was equally perfect in Lyric Pieces the last time BRB were in Cheltenham, too. It's almost like she is in the company as the contemporary specialist! She was utterly mesmeric to watch in a piece that I came to adore as it went on. Kin is a fascinating piece. In brooding monochrome with a similarly monochromatic but subtly textured score to match, this abstract ballet's choreography was complex, fiendishly difficult-looking in places and fascinating. In one pas de deux with Jenna Roberts and Joseph Caley, the two dancers seemed completely separate on the stage, seemingly disconnected. In places, though, the two synchronise and match movements or come into contact with one another. As a means to express the invisible but powerful bonds that exist between people, it was immensely powerful. Alexander Whitley's choreography was some of the most interesting I've seen, and has further whetted the appetite for more contemporary works that Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet first instilled in me last year. More please! I should also mention that the costumes in this were fantastic. Jean-Marc Puissant provided the costumes for Take Five too, and these shared the same elegant, cool simplicity of that show. Elite Syncopations I've already waxed lyrical about this performance here, and it all applies equally here. I love this piece. Once again, the curtain simply going up got a gasp of approval from the audience! Getting to see Yvette Knight and James Barton's Alaskan Rag again was an absolute joy - I don't think I've seen anything in a theatre that has made me feel so happy! Once again, this was danced beautifully by everyone, including a lovely solo by Samara Downs. Because I'm slightly worried that you lot might have concluded from previous reviews that I have the least discerning taste on the planet, and that I'm someone who probably just dishes out worship indiscriminately, I wish I could find some criticism, somewhere, of this triple bill. I simply can't. If you think I've waffled or written too much in this review, think yourself lucky. I could've written ten times this amount and still not have covered off everything I wanted to heap praise upon. It was immaculate, simply immaculate.
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