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I saw both performances in Birmingham yesterday, where The King Dances is replaced by Kin.

 

I adore Theme and Variations and last night Momoko Hirata was just took my breath away with her speed and precision.  She filled the stage with her presence and her partnership with Joe Caley continues to grow.

 

I love Kin and we saw mostly the same dancers in both performances.  In the afternoon the leading couple was Elisha Willis and Joe Caley.  Elisha has a sublime limpid quality that beautifully suits her opening solo and the duet with Joe.  Delia Matthews and William Bracewell led the evening performance.  Delia is taller than Elisha and it brings a completely different but equally enjoyable dynamic to the choreography.  Tzu-Chao Chou dazzled in his incredibly fast solo.  Great stuff!

 

Enigma Variations is just sublime and a total masterpiece.  In the evening it was a joy to see Dominic Antonucci as Elgar and Wolfgang Stollwitzer as Jaeger.  Their performance of Nimrod with Ana Albutishvili as Lady Elgar was incredibly moving.  Jade Heusen was a total delight as Winifred Norbury and I very much enjoyed Yvette Knight and Tom Rogers in the hammock duet.

 

It's a cracking good mixed programme.  I am looking forward to seeing T&V, Enigma and The King Dances at Sadler's Wells on Saturday.  I'm looking forward to everyone's thoughts...

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I'll prob see you there on Saturday!  I can't wait as I am especially looking forward to Theme & Variations as I love Balanchine's work:-) and seeing Wolfgang Stollwitzer in Enigma.  BRB always do cracking good triples!  Am still toying with Swan Lake on Wednesday afternoon was hoping for some ticket deals but only the one so far.

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I will,be at the matinee on Saturday 17th.

I'm watching company class in the morning and then staying on to see the matinee performance.

The cast list has been announced for saturday but at this point as I don't know the Company that well I don't mind who I see. It's years since I've seen Enigma....always love Theme and variations .....and a new ballet in the King dances so very much looking forward to it all!

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Looks like quite a gathering of us on Saturday then! I've booked a train tomorrow so hope to get a ticket for Delia and Brandon's Swan Lake at the theatre. Anyone else at the matinee tomorow?

Edited by Don Q Fan
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Dilema now for Swan Lake do I sit in the stalls or my usual higher up? Are there many nuances to see closer to?

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That's what I was thinking.  I'll see what they can offer me tomorrow at the box office - thanks Janet! Looks like plenty of availability anyway.

Edited by Don Q Fan

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Was at the rehearsal in the Birmingham Hippodrome last week. Friday 16th Oct the company opens in Sadlers Wells - but with King Dances, not Kin. being bookended by the 'variations' pieces - Balanchine's 'Theme and Variations' and Ashton's 'Engma Variations'. Photos below, with link to more (including Kin.)

 

22014707390_28f5dfd113_z.jpg
Theme and Variations: Nao Sakuma, Mathias Dingman
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

22190020052_98bf55d4c3_z.jpg
Enigma Varitions: Samara Downs, Jonathan Payne
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

See more...

Set from DanceTabs: BRB - 'Variations' mix bill
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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WHAT A TRIUMPHANT EVENING .... Truly.

 

Balanchine's THEME AND VARIATIONS began and was all quick fire.  The incandescent Momoko Hirata sparkled throughout ... being every inch the effulgent princess Balanchine intended.  How she reminded me of the divine Yoko Ichino in the graceful speed of that same.  Behind - as one of the soloist couples - Celine Gittens and William Bracewell danced meritoriously as rightful heirs apparent.  How lovingly Desmond Kelly has staged this master work for Bintley's truly superlative ensemble.  We should all be proud.  Truly.

 

Ashton's ENIGMA VARIATIONS followed.  The BRB caressed the heart of this ravishing monument to the soulfully humane.  If ballet at its best is about the expression of emotion through movement then Ashton is that special genius who can en-capture through dance the courage of British repression and still make it triumph.  The build last night was just right .... and I would like to pay a special nod to the ever fulgent Tzu-Chao Chou who somehow managed to add anima to the peppy 'bulldog bark' of his particular GRS.  Vivid.

 

A stellar evening came further afire - and to its flaming fruition - with the baroque day and night turn of Bintley's red-hot THE KING DANCES.  Each sectioned Watch dazzled as its own particular sphere first flared and then turned.  This is quite one of the best Bintley pieces I have seen in a long time and Stephen Montague's score is a 'Ballet de la Nuit' all of its own.  By setting it almost entirely on men - yes, even en travesti - as per tradition, Bintley makes the one real woman - a wildfire Yijing Zhang - dazzling all in virginal white - combust.  Tyrone Singleton first smolders and then scorches as the mastermind behind this 'coronational' nightmare.  Ultimately he crowns Le Roi Soleil; one heartfully ignited by the dramatic - not to mention balletic - genius that is William Bracewell.  From his very first appearance this extraordinary young artist gripped with the rapid oxidation of his thrilling theatrical mindset.  THE KING DANCES blazes in my mind's eye even now.  I had a ticket to return for tonight's performance.  Now I will be taking in the matinee too.  I simply don't want to pass up this further opportunity.  Who knows when it might come again.

 

Walking to Angel tube it struck me just how lucky we are in London to have four - oh, so fine - national BALLET companies (RB, BRB, ENB, NB) visit us each year.  Each has a vital leader now at its core.  Each of those are caring not only for our own but for the very artform's future .... and EACH has - in one way or another - in his/her OWN way - been touched by the de Valois mantle.  That is one hell of a legacy ... and we are all - ALL OF US - the beneficiaries.  How lucky is that.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I agree, it was a fabulous evening.  I saw The King Dances on the television when it was broadcast a few weeks ago and loved it more live last night. Wonderful dancing throughout from the whole company (Momoko Hirata sparkled in the Balanchine). Couldn't ask for more!

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Delighted to have managed to get a last minute ticket for today's matinee. BRB isn't a company that I see at all often so I am looking forward to seeing some new dancers but, above all, to seeing The King Dances, which I loved on the television.

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Most enjoyable triple bill of the year for me. Momoko Hirata was extremely enjoyable to watch, as was the rest of the cast in Themes and Variations.

 

This was the first time I've seen Enigma Variations and it left me with a hum of 'oh, that was rather lovely though I have no idea who was what'. I suspect I might never get that straight. Cesar Morales solo was a particular standout for me and I loved the vast assortment of so many charming moments and lovely tiny hops and skips spread throughout the piece.

 

After the initial 'Fire!' And 'Men in Gorgeous Costumes!' there was a part in the earlier section of The King Dances that seemed a bit overlong to me and I started to wonder what it must have been like to watch the 12 hour original performance that inspired this piece (very long, I presume, and hopefully they were sitting comfortably...). By the time the nightmare section started I was enthralled. I think David Bintley has a great way of choreographing non-human movement and it really evoked the tense atmosphere of night terrors. Not quite sure whether it's an interesting curiosity or a keeper in the long run, but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it again tonight.

 

On a personal note: as always when seeing baroque-ish period costume, I wish men still dressed like that. So much more fetching than anything seen on 'modern man'

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It is always interesting to see a company that one doesn't know so well as it concentrates the mind on what is much being danced, quite as much as on who is dancing.

 

Theme and Variations is musical and choreographic joy and I must state how very well the Royal Ballet Sinfonia played all afternoon under Paul Murphy’s sympathetic baton. Sitting in the Circle, the stage seemed very noisy. In my performing days, I did sing in this theatre and I don't recall it as having been a clunky place and the shows in which I was involved with the English Bach Festival did include a lot of dancing. The corps was neat even decorous (Celine Gittens, with that old fashioned quality of glamour and a wonderfully languorous manner was an exception) and I also wanted more sense of danger and glitter from the principals. Momoko Hirata is evidently exquisitely schooled and very musical but it looked just a little small scale (has Nunez danced this? A memory seemed to stir at one point of her rising vertically into the air with her feet tucked under her mid pirouette) and Mathias Dingman had smiling grace and lovely stage manners without quite the technical panache to make that horribly demanding solo really speak.

 

Enigma Variations continues to look ravishing and it seemed to me that the most evident strength of BRB was displayed, each dancer having a very strong sense of character projection in this more dramatic context.Dominic Antonicci as Elgar and Wolfgang Stollwitzer were particularly impressive as with little actual dancing to do they effortlessly dominated the stage and when joined by Ana Albutashvili’s Lady brought wonderful poignancy to Nimrod. That wonderful moment when they run forward at the climax in pursuit of their individual dream and then, slightly embarrassed at such a show of feeling, return to formality seems to be truly Edwardian in feel.

 

Is it heretical to find that some of the ballet, particularly in the earlier episodes, hasn't worn well. Perhaps there were exaggerations in the performance but HDS-P and RBT seemed almost out of the Monty Python School of Silly Walks. *** doesn't really work either, however beautiful the solo, as her presence in the Finale makes no sense. True she flits away before the photograph but she is still acknowledged by, amongst others, The Lady.

 

It is also struck me watching Troyte (a splendid Joseph Caley) and Dorabella, how much of the original dancers is in the choreography. I didn't see a lot of prime Sibley (although I was at her first ROH Giselle in 1970, one of those matinees which ended with the stage ankle deep in flowers as well as her last Manon and Natalia Petrovna) but saw a lot of her mature post comeback work and also saw a lot of Dowell. Their ghosts haunt the solos: his extension, elegance, cool panache, her swiftness, her bending, her love of movement, and I sense that if we watch truly carefully we will also, from that point of vantage, learn much of the movement quality of the other dancers on whom this work was created, so many now, sadly, gone to Terpsichore’s Dance Temple above.

 

The raison d’être for my visit was David Bintley’s The King Dances, which I had enjoyed very much in television a few weeks ago. In the theatre. It looks magnificent, from the flaming torches at the start to Louis XIV’s revelation as The Sun King. For me, it's not perfect. The episode with La Lune has a pleasing resonance (Sun King dancing with the Moon) but seems overlong and there is the risk of the Nightmare scene turning into almost comically camp grotesquerie,

 

Nevertheless, the opening and closing Watches with the grandeur of Stephen Montague!s trumpets and drums rising from the pit and the ever more thrilling images of the gorgeously costumed men moving from contained Baroque formality to virtuoso brilliance will long resonate with me. Of course, William Bracewell is terrific as The King, but I thought Tyrone Singleton as Cardinal Mazarin absolutely magnificent in power, presence, technique and style.

 

It was great to see a new ballet drawing on the art form!s own historical heritage and, in programming terns, the contrast of Balanchine's “Ballet is Woman” stance with the male dominated choreography from Bintley'produced a very satisfying afternoon.

Edited by Jamesrhblack
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Today's matinee:-

Theme & Variations - fabulous

Enigma Variations - beautiful

The King Dances - spectacular

Oh how I wish this was on DVD.

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Same here and lovely to see you again Don Q!

 

It was a lovely day for me as I watched class before this matinee and lovely to see just how allegro dancing should be done!! and some brilliant turns from both the men and women!! I kept watching carefully to catch that moment when it all happens (the turns) but they all do them slightly differently .....but whatever they are doing it works!!!

It was lovely to see Miko Fogerty ....for real ...at last ...in class (instead of on film) and she did some beautifully controlled single and double turns as well! But a real treat to see them all and grateful they allowed us in to watch.

 

The theme and variations was beautifully danced but a surprise for me as I was expecting a different Theme and Variations! I was sure the choreography was Balanchine but can't be! Anyway I recognised the music of this one immediately so probably have seen before some years back and certainly wasn't disappointed in this "surprise"

It was very satisfying to see the Elgar piece again .....last time I saw it Derek Rencher was in the lead role.....but I thought this was really well cast and some wonderful little choreographic gem moments (some deceptively tricky bits to dance) again beautiful dancing from the whole cast.

However the piece I was completely wowed by was The King Dances. I knew nothing about this piece apart from it being based on Louis fourteenth and haven't seen the TV program (which I'll now hunt out) but I thought it was an extraordinary piece of dance and theatre and loved everything about it.....the music ..the costumes ..the staging...the mirrored floor...the atmosphere created...and of course the characterisation and the dancing. It even had its own 'smell' from those authentic fire lights which lingered throughout and Tyrone Singleton and William Bracewell in particular were just absolutely fantastic! I loved that it was nearly all men dancing .....who showed magnificently this afternoon that grace fluid ness vulnerability power and strength all wonderfully combined together.

This is a great new addition to the Company's repertoire and as they continue with their UK tour I'd advise folks who have not seen it yet to go along!!

At the end of this piece the person I was sitting next to ( who I did not know) and myself both turned to each other and said simultaneously "wow"

Could get very fond of this Company and agree with previous poster who commented on how lucky we are in London to have the BRB ENB NB and RB to see.

Edited by LinMM
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I agree entirely with Jamesrhblack.

 

I hugly enjoyed the whole performance- and for my U Circle £16 ticket it was the ballet bargain of the year! Wonderful dancers, a really well balanced programme, super orchestra-a real joy.

 

 I must agree that the principal pair in Theme and Variations did not, for me,  quite have the glamour and panache needed for this terribly demanding piece. Nonetheless a beautiful performance.

Re Enigma I do also agree that there seemed to be an element of caricature in some of the dancers which I do not remember seeing before ( I have seen it several times)-I do not think the fault is in the choreography- it needs to be played with very great subtlety and not for laughs--in my opinion. That said I found it very moving and especially the ending.

 

I knew I needed to see The King Dances live, having liked it in the Tv documentary- and it truly delivered fabulous spectacle.

William Bracewell was riveting and perhaps even more so Tyrone Singleton.

However for me the nightmare/demons scene really went on too long, ran out of ideas.and didn't really seem to fit in to the rest of the ballet. I was puzzled by the moon/sun dance in the TV screening and am still puzzled -as although it was exquisitely pretty , it didn't seem to me to quite fit with the style of the rest of the ballet. Maybe others can elucidate this...

 

What an interesting piece though- it makes you reflect on the origins and development of ballet, it uses a restricted range of steps to amazing effect, and creates a powerful atmosphere with just some really very simple means-and, most of all,  the dance and music work together so well- and the ending is spectacular.

A joy!

Edited by Mary
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The piece I had in my head and was expecting to see today instead of Theme and Variations was the Tchaikovsky pas de deux piece ....also Balanchine choreography ....hence being puzzled by seeing the tutus rather than the floaty dress! But anyway much as I love the pas de deux piece am glad to have seen what was actually in the Programme!!

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Can anyone tell me the name of the TV programme about The King Dances? I was told was on BBC 4 but can't find anywhere!

Could be too late of course as not sure how long ago was on but nothing comes up on the title or David Bintley or BRB!

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Thanks Coated!

I've looked but it appears to have gone from BBC I player so guess will have to wait till it comes around again.

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I have it recorded on my freeview recorder but of course these days you can't pass that over quite like a VHS tape or copy it!!  As I keep saying digital is antisocial in this respect!!

 

I agree with many of the comments above - King Dances was a spectacle and I loved the wet look floor which allowed the flame light to play wonderfully - adding to the atmosphere.  I could not quite smell it though as I was rather high up.  I thought William Bracewell and Tyrone Singleton were great.  I think Tyrone revelled in the roles he played and I liked the shouting at the end all adding to the sheer drama of the piece.  I do agree that one or two parts were a bit over long but this is something I am sure Mr Bintley can correct.  I would love to see this again and soon!  BRB are on on cracking form - I just wish they could procure a DonQ I am sure they would be magnificent!!

Edited by Don Q Fan
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I meant to say that in Theme and Variations  the dancer who really took my eye, and seemed to me to have the style absolutely right was Brandon Lawrence ( worked that out after poring over the cast sheet and looking up the website). I shall be looking out for him again. As a non expert in BRB dancers, and a humble learner, I expect to be told I am a bit late noticing him!

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Nothing wrong in that Mary.  Brandon is a comparative newcomer to the company, I first remember seeing him in 2012.  He completely stole every scene he was in playing the cymbols in the Salvation Army interlude in 'Hobson's Choice'.  Needless to say he has been catching my eye ever since.

 

That he is one of the stars of the company is assured.  We are really lucky to have him at BRB.

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Brandon Lawrence was a lovely Siegfried in Wednesday Swan Lake matinee - he has a lovely elegant style.  I would also have liked to see Tzu Chao Chou given a stab at the lead role on T&V because his jumps are so good I think he would carry off the male solo very well.

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