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BRB - Spring Passions programme - Spring 2012


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Birmingham Royal Ballet completed a week of performances of the Spring Passions programme in Birmingham at the weekend. I was lucky enough to catch the three weekend performances.

 

The score for Daphnis and Chloe is absolutely glorious and I thought the orchestra sounded terrific. I really liked the set and the 1950s style costumes. The story is pretty silly but we saw some lovely performances. I was particularly taken with Saturday evening's cast of Jenna Roberts and Jamie Bond who were absolutely sublime together.

 

I adore Two Pigeons. It may be silly and sentimental but Ashton has created characters that you really care about. Saturday evening saw Nao Sakuma and Robert Parker giving a beautifully nuanced, expressive performance that was all the more moving because it was Robert's final performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome. They were both totally subsumed in their roles and carried me away on waves of emotion. I had to try very hard not to sob out loud by the end.

 

In other casts I very much enjoyed Angela Paul as the Gypsy and both Tom Rogers and Tyrone Singleton as the Gypsy Lover. We had three terrific Gypsy boys in James Barton, Matthias Dingman and Tzu-chao Chou (whose dancing is so fast and precise).

 

We are so lucky to see these Ashton gems in the BRB rep. Long may they continue!

 

Don't forget that this super programme is at the Coli next week (13th and 14th March).

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Sounds really exciting, I'm going twice next week and should see the casts you mention, could you please say what the running time is, I suppose about 3 hours?

The estimated time is 2 hours 45 minutes but the performance I went to wasn't much short of 3 hours.

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The score for Daphnis and Chloe is absolutely glorious and I thought the orchestra sounded terrific. I really liked the set and the 1950s style costumes. The story is pretty silly but we saw some lovely performances. I was particularly taken with Saturday evening's cast of Jenna Roberts and Jamie Bond who were absolutely sublime together.

 

Agreed, they were very good together. I especially liked the bit at the start of Scene 3 when they were reunited, and the ensuing pas de deux.

 

In the afternoon, Nao was very good in the two solos - in Scene 2, with tied hands, really straining, in vain, to be free (in contrast Jenna Roberts was more passive here - abject and despairing); and then in the Scene 3 solo, very sensual and really feeling and expressing the rhythm of the dance. Victoria Marr also very good as Lykanion, in the seduction scene.

 

I adore Two Pigeons. It may be silly and sentimental but Ashton has created characters that you really care about. Saturday evening saw Nao Sakuma and Robert Parker giving a beautifully nuanced, expressive performance that was all the more moving because it was Robert's final performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome. They were both totally subsumed in their roles and carried me away on waves of emotion. I had to try very hard not to sob out loud by the end.

 

I've wanted to see Nao and Robert in this since BRB posted a great studio rehearsal video clip of them (I can't seem to post a link to it on Vimeo without embedding it in this page...) Parker really makes a difference. He and Nao were terrific in Act 1, which is one of the best examples I know in ballet of plot exposition and development, continuously moving and well paced with numerous twists and turns. It's a great dramatic moment when the two pigeons are first seen flying by, through the window.

 

There is a flaw though, in that first, in happiness at how good it is, and later when it's all going wrong, your eyes get a bit moist and you can have trouble focussing! (Good to sit near the front!). The bit that most gets me is when he is rejecting her attempts to keep him from heading off, and after the violin solo, we have the orchestra strings playing a wonderful pianissimo (you can hear a pin drop). After he exited, Nao was left slumped at the door, heartbroken, her friends empathising with her plight - it all seemed to happen so quickly.

 

We are so lucky to see these Ashton gems in the BRB rep. Long may they continue!

 

Hear, hear!

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Two Pigeons was everything I love about Ashton ballets - funny, sweet, energetic and colourful. And it was danced so beautifully. I could have watched it all evening! I liked Daphis and Chloe, too, especially the first two scenes. The third scene, though, I thought made very little sense and had almost no relation to what went before it. As a piece of dance, I liked it, but from a storytelling point of view, it didn't really hold together strongly enough in my opinion.

Much of the dance world may have been at Sadler's Wells last night - and maybe that's why the Upper Circle at the Coliseum was so empty - but I'm really glad that I went to see BRB instead.

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Just came back from the BRB Ashton double bill at the Coliseum tonight. First time seeing the company. It was AMAZING. Two Pigeons is such a charming, utterly delightful ballet. Chi Cao as the male lead in particular shone in Act 2 with his easy grace and very moving expressive dance.

 

I had not originally planned to watch Coppelia, but on the strength of what I saw of the BRB - I've just booked myself tickets for the Thursday evening programme as well!

 

If only BRB were in London more often!

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I saw this programme yesterday afternoon. It's hard to think of a better way of spending £12.50 especially as I was upgraded to the upper circle. I preferred Two Pigeons to D&C, which I think is a bit of an acquired taste. I found the costumes off-putting: very bright colours for the dresses and fitted shirts and belted trousers for the men which looked odd for ballet to me. I was a little disappointed with the lead pairing (Caley/Sakuma). There was little chemistry between them and some of the partnering was a bit laboured on occasions. Caley did not have a lot of stage presence IMO but, to be fair, he had some rather limp choreography to contend with.

There was more chemistry between Bond and Roberts in Two Pigeons and Roberts was delightful as The Young Girl. Celine Gittens was excellent as the the Gypsy Girl; her dancing was very good and she really brought out the character of the role. I loved the Parisian studio set and it was exciting to see the live pigeons play their parts (they should have taken a bow at the end).

 

I thought that there was a reasonable audience given the programme and the time of day. I don't think that you would ever fill the Coli at a mid-week matinee unless it was the school holidays and Swan Lake or The Nutcracker was on.

 

All in all, a very enjoyable afternoon. I congratulate BRB for putting on this comparatively rarely performed pair of ballets. I'm about to book for Coppelia.

 

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I enjoyed very much the three performances of Spring Passions that I saw at the Coli. Tuesday evening marked Robert Parker's fnal performance on a "main stage" as he danced Two Pigeons with Nao Sakuma. It was a very special and emotional performance. He danced with such youth and vigour that it is hard to realise that he is retiring.

 

For me, Wednesday evening's performance of Two Pigeons was the highlight with Ambra Vallo and Chi Cao performing the honours. They were totally subsumed into their roles and were so believable. The final reconciliation duet was incredibly moving. Carol-Anne Millar and Iain Mackay were spectacular as the Gypsy and her Lover. I thought the whole company were on sparkling form.

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Janet, you've seen this programme several times (is it eight?). Was I being hyper- critical of the Caley/Sakuma partnership at the Wednesday matinee?

 

Justin, BRB come to London twice a year, to Sadler's Wells in the Autumn and to the Coli in the Spring. Each time they bring two programmes. Last year I absolutely loved their Cinderella and Symphonic Variations which was part of their Autumn triple bill. I really like seeing ballet at Sadler's Wells (obviously it's not suitable for everything) because you are so much closer to the dancers ( I don't book stalls seats -too expensive and I don't like looking up).

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I saw the 2 evening performances and admired the enthusiasm and spirit that BRB put into both ballets, I have always liked Daphnis and Chloe , it's very modern for Ashton I think, his choreography really matches the strange mix of quirky rythymns and sensual music, I particularly liked Jenna Roberts and Jamie Bond, it was the first time I was able to see Jamie dance and he was very expressive, Angela Paul as Lykanion made a strong impression too. By contrast Ashton made such soft, sweet choreography for the girl in The Two Pigeons, it suited Ambra Vallo and Nao Sakuma very well, I get so emotional at the end and Tuesday being Robert Parker's farewell made it worse!

 

Looking forward to both Coppelia's tomorrow.

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Aileen, you wrote as you saw and I don't think you were being hypercritical. I have come to realise that everyone sees things differently and it's very much personal preferance. I enjoyed Nao and Joe very much and I felt there was a connection between them but that is how I saw it, you just happened to see it differently and your point of view is just as valid. (I saw three performances in Birmingham and three at the Coli so six in all.)

 

Actually at the Coli, I was discussing differing views with some friends and we all agreed that we should celebrate our differences!

 

Edited to add a missing word

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Better late than never.... I saw the matinee at the Coliseum on Wed. I don't know BRB well, I've only seen them twice before. I came away feeling I'd passed a very pleasant mid week afternoon, especially given the discounted ticket price. Daphnis and Chloe didn't appeal much: it's dated and seemed odd in 1950's costume but it was danced well. Two Pidgeons was really lovely. I was struck by the excellence of the corps particularly the men who looked well rehearsed: the ensemble pieces were pleasingly co-ordinated and danced with energy and enthusiasm. Quite honestly I had expected a poor relation of the corps across the piazza but that was certainly not the case. A pity in spite of very cheap ticket prices, the Coli was still half full at best.

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