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Birmingham Royal Ballet - Polarity & Proximity mixed programme - Summer 2018

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I had been hoping to see some comments from forum members about the new ballet performed by BRB at the Wells, or indeed, the whole programme. I am looking forward to seeing it in Birmingham this week but would love to know how it went down in London. Thanks.

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  • Jan McNulty changed the title to Birmingham Royal Ballet - Polarity & Proximity mixed programme - Summer 2018

I was there on Friday night and really enjoyed it.  Kin was a nice piece and well danced.


 Embrace was very good, largely because of a beautiful and deeply-felt central performance by Brandon Lawrence.  He and Delia Mathews have so much empathy in anything they dance together, and here was no exception.  A pleasure to see them dance together again.  A lovely performance from Max Maslen as well.  I liked the ballet but it is quite complicated so I would like to see it again.  


In The Upper Room was energetically danced by all and they had great fun with the difficult and relentless choreography, just as I had fun watching it.  It was joyous and fun and I was exhausted by the end... I can't imagine how the dancers felt!


All three pieces were received with great enthusiasm by the audience and it was very well deserved.  


No time to write more, but this is a bill well worth seeing.  George do let us know what you think.  I hope you enjoy it!

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So I was in Birmingham for the final five performances of this mixed programme and what a truly exhilarating couple of days it has been!


Kin. was created for the company by Alex Whitley a couple of years ago for the midscale tours to smaller theatres.  I must say it looks fab on the much larger Hippodrome stage.  I find it elegant, with some beautiful and sensual moves.  The meat of this piece is the gorgeous duet for either Jenna Roberts/Tyrone Singleton or Delia Matthews/Lachlan Monaghan.  Jenna (or Delia) start the piece with a languid solo that makes the most of their long limbs as the nine other dancers gradually file off the stage.  They come back on in various groupings on either side of the central duet, beautifully danced by both couples.  This piece is only 20 minutes long but I wanted it to go on for ever!


Embrace is the first commission for the Ballet Now initiative, choreographed by George Williamson.  Much has been made of the fact that it is about a young man's self discovery and coming out.  However, I found it could apply to many circumstances where a person thinks they are an outsider (for example someone who has been badly bullied and has no self confidence).  I found it deeply moving.  Brandon Lawrence is He (the outsider) with Max Maslen as Him and Delia Matthews or Yvette Knight as Her.  "He" has three alter egos that he is constantly battling with in his anguish and wanting to fit.  He has a failed relationship with Her, who then becomes a friend and a successful relationship with Him.


This piece is a tour de force for Brandon Lawrence whose anguish and lack of self confidence is so patently apparent with his jagged moves, some rushing around and attempts to shadow the moves of the largish corps while trying to fit in.  The central duets with Her and with Him are powerful and lyrical and essentially moving.


I loved the essence of this piece, which resonated with me on so many levels, but I did find it overlong.  There were at least 3 points where it could have been brought to a satisfying conclusion before it finally ended.  With some judicious pruning it could be an absolute masterpiece.


The evening ended with the high velocity high energy In the Upper Room.  I just love this piece which is why I bought the extra tickets (I have 2 subscriptions).  We saw 2 casts over those 5 performances.  It was the second cast at my first performance on Thursday afternoon and if they looked under rehearsed they more than made up for that with their enthusiasm.  The first cast was outstanding throughout and by Saturday afternoon the second cast were just as polished.  I can never see enough of this work, although it must be a killer for the dancers!


During the course of the shows I saw some of the dancers were in all three works in one performance - Brandon Lawrence performed He in every performance and was also in Kin. for one of the performances and in Upper Room for 3 of them.  Max Maslen was in all three works in 2 of the shows I saw, Lachlan Monaghan in 4 of the performances, Reina Fuchigami in 3 of the performances.  Jade Heuson was a stomper in every performance of Upper Room.  I salute these and all the other dancers who performed in this enjoyable and difficult triple bill.


In Upper Room there were so many random delights - Brandon as a ballet boy tootling around the stage and with such elegant arm and hand movements in certain sections, Max's elegance as a bleat boy throughout, Jade absolutely OWNED the performances, Jenna Robert's radiance, Lachlan Monaghan's enormous enthusiasm and style as a stomper, Tzu Chao Chu as a pocket rocket stomper, Miles Gilliver's turns (he looked as though he was drilling down to Australia!), Tyrone Singleton's stomper extraordinaire.  


Someone commented to me that with the dark sets and haze there was a similarity between all three works and I have to say that it was a similarity exactly to my taste!  My one regret is that it will be some time in all probability before we see any of these pieces again.


Bravo and heartfelt thanks to BRB for giving me so much enjoyment!

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