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Birmingham Royal Ballet - An Evening of Music and Dance 2014

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It was BRB's annual Evening of Music and Dance last Friday (17th January 2014) at Symphony Hall and WHAT A FANTASTIC NIGHT IT WAS!


These evenings tend to be an absolute delight and this year's was the one I think I have most enjoyed.  It was compered (for the second year running) by the very glamorous Deborah Bull.  The evening followed the usual format of a musical item followed by a danced item and ending with a show-stopper pdd.


I liked all the musical items this year (not always the case for me) and I must say it was a pleasure to see as well as hear the orchestra and they sounded wonderful in this lovely concert hall.


The first danced item was the pas de trois from Sir Frederick Ashton's Les Rendevous, beautifully danced by Arancha Baselga, James Barton and Fergus Campbell.  Their footwork was very deft and beautifully synchronised, boding well for the full performance later in the tour.


After a beautiful rendition of Debussy's Clare de Lune we had the Act 1 duet from David Bintley's Beauty and the Beast danced by Elisha Willis and Tyrone Singleton.  Deborah Bull, in her introduction, told us that we will be able to see the full ballet in the Autumn.  I was on the front row, so was very close to the stage and it was a joy to watch Elisha's facial expressions in this duet ranging from fear and revulsion to pity.  Tyrone was utterly magnificent as The Beast.  With the costume his acting is all within his movements.  I thought he and Elisha were incredibly moving together and had a huge lump in my throat at the end.  This performance was all the more remarkable because it was done completely out of context in the concert hall, but it seemed absolutely right.


The final danced piece before the interval was a new work by Company member Ruth Brill to Rhapsody in Blue.  It was for a leading couple with four supporting couples.  BRB are so lucky to have Jonathan Higgins as Company Pianist and his playing was just scintillating!  The piano was placed centre stage.  Ruth has created a witty and fun piece, full of flirtation and manners and it really suits the music.  I not only hope that we can see this piece again but that we can see more choreography by her.  Samara Downs and William Bracewell were fabulous as the lead couple.


After the inerval we had a duet from Prince of the Pagodas danced by Momoko Hirata and Joseph Caley.  Deborah Bull described it as a duet for brother and sister and it was tender rather than romantic.  Momoko and Joseph have a wonderful on stage rapport which bodes well for the full work.


Elmhurst provided the next danced piece to an extract from Glazunov's Scenes de Ballet choreographed by Michael Ho.  It was a delight and brought the house down.


The evening ended on a thrilling note with Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao absolutely dazzling in Diana and Actaeon.  It was the cherry on the icing of the cake of a wonderful evening! 


I'm already looking forward to next year!




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Thank you Janet, you have spurred me to make a note on my calendar to get tickets for next year. I went to the first couple of these evenings when I used to live in a Birmingham, and then forgot about them. The event isn't widely advertised, so it is easily overlooked, but I remember how varied and interesting the programmes were with an opportunity to see many favourite dancers in one evening at the fraction of the price of a ballet gala.

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