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Birmingham Royal Ballet - Penguin Cafe Programme - Autumn 2013


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I was in Birmingham last Friday for BRB's Penguin Cafe programme, which consists of E=MC2, Tombeaux and Still Life at the Penguin Cafe.  All three works are choreographed by David Bintley.

 

The programme opens with the latest (from 2009) - E=MC2 - a busy piece in 4 sections.  I particularly love the armography in Energy, and its energy.  Tyrone Singleton and Celine Gittens were stand out in the afternoon.  I find Mass (for 3 ladies and 6 gentlemen) very beautiful and serene.  Jenna Roberts is just sublime in this section.  The Manhatten Project is a thought provoking solo danced against the sound-track of a rumbling explosion.   Celeritas (Light) completes the action with some high energy moves - Maureya Lebowitz and Mathias Dingman were particularly outstanding.  This is a complex work that hits the senses on many levels and bears repeated viewings.

 

I just love Tombeaux and find it very beautiful.  I love the indigo colours of the ladies' tutus.  The central duet has some spectacular looking lifts. 

 

Still Life at the Penguin Cafe completes the programme.  It's quirky and poignant and still very relevant.  I loved James Barton as the Texan Kangaroo Rat and Yasuo Atsuji as the Brazillian Woolly Nut Monkey.  Angel Paul is a delight as the Utah Long Horn Ram with Iain Mackay as her partner.  Miki Mizutani and Karla Doorbar were both terrific as the Flea.  Brandon Lawrence and Tyrone Singleton were both sensational as the Zebra.  The end of that section still shocks.  The Ark, with the Auk left outside, still causes me to have a lump in my throat.

 

This programme shows the sheer inventiveness and versatility of David Bintley with the range of works on show.

 

I loved this programme!

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I think the tutus in Tombeaux are possibly my favourite tutus ever, so all the effort which went into getting them right was well worth it - and I'm sure the ballerinas' partners' scratches all healed up nicely eventually :)

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It was nearly 3 hours in Birmingham, with 2 x 15 minute intervals.  It is a long programme (as long as Sleeping Beauty anyway).

 

Eek.  Thanks for the warning.  I'll attempt to get some early nights the rest of this week, external factors permitting :)

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Spanner, and anyone else going to Sadler's Wells, please add at least 10 minutes to your time planning for this programme.  In Birmingham we got out at 1655 and 2225 after performances starting at 1400 and 1930 respectively.  There didn't seem to be any obvious over-runs on the intervals but there was a lot of applause!

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In fact it was a 25 minute overrun tonight as they were having problems with the scenery rails and started late. On the upside Sadler's Wells does great banana cake and I would like to nominate Ian Mackay as the next James Bond. The man sure can work evening dress with panache...

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Well, there were problems with the flooring over at the ROH tonight. K O'H came on at the end of the first interval and said that the flooring was slippery (unfortunately, Akane fell on her very first entrance and then again a few seconds later) and that it would have to be changed for Act 3, which would mean an extra-long interval. I'm afraid that as this would have meant a very late night for my daughter we left after Act 2. I'd be interested to know how long the second interval actually was.

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Well, there were problems with the flooring over at the ROH tonight. K O'H came on at the end of the first interval and said that the flooring was slippery (unfortunately, Akane fell on her very first entrance and then again a few seconds later) and that it would have to be changed for Act 3, which would mean an extra-long interval. I'm afraid that as this would have meant a very late night for my daughter we left after Act 2. I'd be interested to know how long the second interval actually was.

 

It wasn't much longer than usual.  The curtain came down just before 10.30pm.

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In fact it was a 25 minute overrun tonight as they were having problems with the scenery rails and started late. On the upside Sadler's Wells does great banana cake and I would like to nominate Ian Mackay as the next James Bond. The man sure can work evening dress with panache...

 

And there I was thinking that I'd have done better being over at the ROH.

 

And I was reflecting during Penguin Cafe that nobody has ever bettered Adam Cooper in the carrying-off of white tie and tails :)

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It wasn't much longer than usual.  The curtain came down just before 10.30pm.

 

Oh dear, like aileen I decided to leave after the second act thinking it wouldn't finish til much later, what a wonderful recovery and dancing from Akane Takada though, fingers crossed for tonight at the cinema, at least I can stay to the very end!

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I saw this programme last night. The large audience included several school (and dance school?) groups - which included boys - who were very well-behaved from where I was sitting.

 

I liked the first and second sections of E=MC2, but was less keen on the other two. I liked the concept and sound effects of the third section but found the dancing and costuming rather dull and cliched. The fourth section seemed to be a bit shapeless and involved a lot of running about but the lighting was good. The BRB corps is always good - you feel that the dancers are a real team; is this because the company tours so much and/or because in long runs each dancer dances many different roles?

 

Tombeaux was beautiful with a lovely set and gorgeous tutus. It's very classical in style with a softness in the movement that you rarely find in modern work. The programme notes were very blunt indeed about the circumstances in which David Bintley created the ballet.

 

Penguin Cafe didn't have quite the panache of the two previous performances of it which I have seen (one by BRB and one by the RB). The sets seem to have been scaled down, possibly for touring, and I wasn't keen on the painted backdrops - they looked as if they had been dashed off in a hurry.

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I must admit that, having seen the bill on Tuesday night, I was reflecting that both the works created on the Royal Ballet would have looked better on a more expansive stage.

 

Did all the technical aspects work out last night?  I had to leave partway through Penguin Cafe on Tuesday (and still managed to miss my train :( )

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There were no technical problems last night and the performance finished on time! Now I come to think of it, both of the previous performances of Penguin Cafe which I have seen have been on larger stages, one at the Coliseum and one at the ROH.

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Hi all,

 

I'm a really new ballet fan, with little experience of watching performances - Rambert a few years ago, Cedar Lake and the Yorkshire Summer School Gala a couple of weekends back, and various bits and pieces in amateur dance shows I've seen over the years - so apologies if anything I say below is dumb. (And please, point it out!)

 

I wasn't planning on going to see this one, but after reading Janet's review above, seeing Brandon Lawrence at the Summer School gala, and realising there was 20% off when I got tickets to this and Sleeping Beauty at the same time, I persuaded myself that it would be silly not to - and I'm really glad I did.

 

For me, e - mc2 was the least to my tastes, although I enjoyed it more as it went on. The opening with so many pairs wonderfully in time was really enjoyable, and The Manhattan Project was very well danced by Samara Downs and stood out as something different. Celeritas2 was very good, particularly Miki Mizutani and Max Maslen as the leads.

 

Tombeaux, with Jasper Conran's striking costume designs - I thought the blue/black tutus were gorgeous - was more to my liking overall, with the standout being Nao Sakuma's dance with Yasuo Atsuji, Brandon Lawrence, Tom Rogers and Benjamin Soerel.

 

As for Still Life at the Penguin Cafe - wow! Easily worth the price of admission alone. I thought it started brilliantly and got better and better, at least until The Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas. (Not to say anything after that wasn't brilliant, it was just that Karla Doorbar's Flea and the five morris dancers with her were so sensational nothing else could quite match them for me!) Having said that, Mathias Dingman's flamboyant Monkey came very close. As Janet says in her first post, the final scene, with the Auk outside the auk, is really emotional. Earlier on in the ballet, I loved the wonderful Great Auks sequence, Maureya Lebowitz made a delightful Ram, and James Barton's hoedown as the Texas Kangaroo Rat was superb. I also thought the costumes for this were simply breathtaking, and the music was utterly gorgeous.

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