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Jan McNulty

Birmingham Royal Ballet - Aladdin - Autumn 2017

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BRB opened their Autumn season with David Bintley's Aladdin at The Lowry yesterday.

 

This production is a great family entertainment and last night we were treated to a dazzling performance from the whole company.  Mathias Dingman was a real young man about town until he fell in love at first sight with the Princess. Momoko Hirata was just divine as the Princess. Iain Mackay frightened the life out of me as the Maghreb and Tzu-chao Chou was a pocket rocket as the Djin!

 

Nao Sakuma and Tyrone Singleton set the stage alight as the Rubies.

 

What a great start to the season.

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Thanks Janet for starting this thread on BRB's Aladdin. I saw the performance tonight at the Lowry with Aladdin danced by Lachlan Monaghan, the Princess Badr al-Budur by Yaoqian Shang, and The Djinn of the Lamp was Max Maslen. 

 

I'll echo Janet's praise. However I will admit that the advance billing as 'family entertainment' rather put me off - grumpy old so-and-so that I am. The Disney-like publicity posters and images also rather discouraged me, (along with the inescapable associations with panto) but the reviews I read seemed to gainsay this and, with confidence in how supremely excellent I know BRB to be, I went along. I'd seen another Bintley creation Cinderella last year and and admired his choreography very much.

 

I had not seen the ballet before (or heard much about it) and for anyone else in that position I would tentatively suggest that 'family entertainment' is accurate in one sense but misleading in another. There is very little panto or slapstick. The dominant impression I come away with is a rich, splendid ballet with a style of dancing right up my street, traditional classical, with emphasis on technique and spectacle rather than deep characterisation or emotional communication.  

 

I began not immediately entranced, feeling it was all a bit pastiche -  competent and attractive but not riveting;  but by the end my spirits were quite elevated by some wonderfully conceived and performed scenes, and splendid individual performances. 

 

Particular aspects which appealed to me were the general ensemble pieces (which I also thought superb in Cinderella), and the spectacular first big number the Djinn leads in Act II, which has tremendous impact. I admired the style of the Djinn's choerography, which I thought may have fallen into Corsaire-pastiche but actually had a rapid delicacy and originality in the steps - very fast turns rather than great big jetes. In the precious stones variations the Sapphires stood out to me, with a wonderful leading performance by Samara Downs - this was the moment the ballet really started to come alive to me. As Janet saw and described on Wed, Sakuma and Singleton performed Rubies so brilliantly. Aladdin and the Princess danced several pas de deux of great beauty (again, a feature I remembered from Cinderella) - it was the first time I have seen Yaoqian Shang in a lead role, and the images of her promenades in attitude/arabesque in those pas de deux are a very strong lasting impression. 

 

Again comparing to Cinderella, I though there was an exquisite taste in Bintley's choreography - never overdone or forcefully showy, some beautiful subtle detailing to the steps. 

 

The oriental style and features worked brilliantly to create fantasy and romance, I have not seen this in any other ballet (I wouldn't really count the Chinese dance in Nutcracker), and lastly seeing Marion Tait performing as Aladdin's mother was the cherry on top, she has a presence on stage that is always remarkable. 

 

An extremely enjoyable evening, I'd see this ballet again given the opportunity..

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My son and I saw yesterday’s matinee performance with Jenna Roberts as the Princess (faultless, with beautiful lyrical arms, and she brought lovely girlish charm to the role), Cesar Morales as Aladdin, Tyrone Singleton as the Mahgrib, and Aitor Galende as the Djinn.

 

Of particular mention were Aladdin’s Friends Feargus Campbell and Max Maslen, who had humour, personality, and perfect unison timing. Bizarrely, they are hidden by the Chinese dragon in the final pageant moment of the ballet, and we were unable to see them as the clapping started. Sadly, Morales was missing the personality and humour to match them at the start, and actually we didn’t feel he really engaged with any of the other dancers throughout his technically competent performance, including in his pas de deux pieces. Northstar you mention this ballet doesn’t deliver slapstick or panto, which is also fine by me, but I do think the title role needs to deliver personality and a comic touch in the first act order to be convincing. Also they need to show fear in the cave in the second, and then be able to fall in love and deliver us romance in the third. This is a role for someone like Robert Parker, and for us Cesar Morales was the wrong choice.

 

We’re big fans of David Bintley ballets and always enjoy the junior male dancers in his choreography (particular favourite Beauty and the Beast). In this case, we felt the whole company was a little under-rehearsed to feel this – of note, the men got a little tangled with the Chinese Dragon, some girls made a few wrong turns, and my son was critical of dancers falling out of their pirouettes into hops. I should like to mention what a joy it was to watch Brendon Lawrence as an Emerald. Reina Fuchigami was confident and bright and sparkly as a Diamond, and epitomised what I like about the BRB – that they dance like they enjoy what they do! Perhaps a few more performances will give the corps de ballet the security of knowing their steps well enough to start delivering that in the first act, which was largely missing that feeling of magic and joy that I usually enjoy so promptly after the curtain opens on a BRB performance. I would like to see this again, later in the season but it’s unlikely I will get the opportunity. Still, it was a “missing” David Bintley ballet that we very much enjoyed adding to our “collection”.

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I have just come back from seeing this ballet tonight.  It is not a great work but in Act 1 we had all 6 principal ladies, 4 out of 6 of the male principals, Marion Tait and Brandon Lawrence.  Now that is what I call value for money.

 

Longer review to follow in the next couple of days but well done Mathias.

Edited by Two Pigeons
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I  saw two performance of the Penguin triple and last Thursday's matinee of Aladdin.

The three shows were all made tremendously enjoyable ,because  the design was immaculate,the orchestral playing superb and also every single person onstage danced their socks off from start to finish.

There were several outstanding performances  (I have seen all of the four ballets since they were first put on) but I will not name names here because

 this was "Company" in the true sense of the word.

Bravo to everybody ,and especially the Ballet Staff!!

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I saw the two performances of Aladdin in Birmingham on Thursday.

 

In the afternoon Tzu-Chao Chou and Karla Doorbar made their debuts as Aladdin and the Princess with Aitor Galende as the Djinn.  Tzu-Chao has a larger than life stage persona and the role of Aladdin really suited him.  Karla was just sublime as the Princess.  Aiitor proved yet again that he is a young dancer to watch. The whole company was on sparkling form and it was an uplifting performance.

 

In the evening we saw Lachlan Monaghan as Aladdin with Yaoqian Shang as his Princess and Max Maslen as the Djinn.  I must say that their performances, for me, made this this best performance of Aladdin I have seen not only in this run but the debut run too.  It was one of those evenings where there was magic dust in the air and the whole company sparked off each other.

 

David Bintley has really pushed the boat out for this run and the jewel diverts in Act 1 were jam packed full of principals at the 3 performances I saw.  But actually it didn't matter if the roles were danced by principals as everyone I saw was terrific.  If I was going to be biased (and I am!) Nao Sakuma and Tyrone Singleton set the stage alight as the rubies.  Oh wow!

 

As Maurice said above these were company performances in the true sense of the word.

 

 

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I hadn’t intended to make another comment but reading the above remarks by Jan and Maurice I am inspired to repeat my view that I expressed in the Penguin Cafe thread. In answer to those worrying that they can’t be sure who they will see dance  Aurora in February I just don’t care as I am certain that , with the company on the form that it is at the moment,  I shall see a stellar performance whoever is dancing..Look at the names sprinkled around in rave reviews this season and there are so many dancers who were barely known a season or two ago.BRB is a company in the true sense of the word.

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Does anyone else think that bits of the music are similar to Chants d'Auvergne?

 

As I watched on Friday night, I was struck by the forgetfulness of the ballet. This was the third time that I was seen it, and the only bit that I could remember was the flying Djinn. This was  Tzu-Chao Chou and boy is he good! I agree with Janet, the jewels section is a highlight with most of my favourite dancers appearing.

 

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Anyone seen this at Sadler's Wells yet?  I've been surprised not even to have seen any tickets for this at the tkts booth in Leicester Square, even if I had been able to go.

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Yes, we went tonight with friends.  There were some empty seats in the second circle, which surprised us, given that this is prime seasonal fare and deserved to be sold out.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it - it's obviously lightweight, fun stuff but spectacularly staged and thoroughly well danced.  The flying ducks had me laughing out loud.

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I would have liked to see Aladdin but decided that SW twice in one week wasn't a good idea, am going tomorrow,  have just checked TFL website and the buses seem to be okay again southward from SW  to Victoria and Waterloo.

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Looking forward to Basier de la Fee tomorrow can't say the same for Penguin Cafe I've never really taken to that piece. Wonder if it'll be any different tomorrow?! Any run times for the triple bill? 

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1 hour ago, Don Q Fan said:

Any run times for the triple bill? 

 

Arcadia is 26 mins, La Baiser is 45 mins and Penguin Cafe is 43 mins and there was two 25 minute intervals...

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2 hours 45 according to the Sadler's Wells website: that's gone up by 10 minutes.

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Saw Aladdin at Sadlers Wells on Thursday night and despite having read reviews in the press and here, I was exceptionally disappointed and considered leaving after the first act. It was my first time seeing BRB and was expecting to be at least dazzled by the great dancing which the programme promised. I wasn't keen on the music - kept almost hearing the Back to the Future theme and it was a bit blockbustery rather than balletic. Wasn't keen on the quality of the costumes which in places which looked cheap and gaudy. Most of all, the dancing seriously disappointed, but strongly believe that this was down to the choreography which was largely lots of petit allegro which confined dancers to very small spaces, racing through lots of steps without showing much in the way of style. There was little adage and disappointing pas de deux which could have developed out in to a bit more of a thrilling piece of virtuousity to give the show an energetic lift.

 

The only positive I can think of is that my kids would probably have liked it (which is fine as long as I don't have to take them).

 

 

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I have used the Arcadia thread to reply to Blossom ‘s interesting view as I obviously don’t want to repeat it here.I hope someone will pick it up as it seems that something must have gone wrong on Thursday night at the Wells

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