Jump to content

Birmingham Royal Ballet - Three of a Kind - Spring 2014


Recommended Posts

Just thought I'd start a thread for this. Mostly because I'm jolly excited about seeing it tonight! Céline Gittens, Maureya Lebowitz and Elisha Willis are all on the cast list for this evening's show so I have an ever-so-slight suspicion it's going to be brilliant. :D

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope the performance lived up to your wishes as it is an intriguing bill.  I am not huge fan of Card Game but when it goes well it is great fun.  I also share you enthusiasm for Celine Gittens.  I have booked twice as I have always missed her in Slaughter so I have high hopes for this week.  I am really pleased that she is doing it with Tyrone Singleton.  For me they are the company's most exciting partnership as I feel that it is the classic case of two stars who together are even greater than the sum of their parts. 

 

The hoofer in Slaughter is a role I will always associate with Robert Parker (although anyone who saw Joe Cipolla smouldering in the initial runs will find him hard to forget) but I am happy to see Tyrone in anything so I am greatly looking forward to this.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 I am really pleased that she is doing it with Tyrone Singleton.  For me they are the company's most exciting partnership as I feel that it is the classic case of two stars who together are even greater than the sum of their parts. 

 

Absolutely agree. Their PDDs that I saw in Two Step (Take Five) and Faster have been completely mesmerising. And thanks for the heads-up, Tony - you've whetted my appetite even more. :)

 

One thing I do note from the Birmingham Hippodrome website is that for tonight (when the tickets are cheaper) it's barely half-full, and for later nights probably only 1/3, if that. Having done amateur dramatics, I know how disheartening it feels to play to what can feel like an empty house. I just hope the dancers don't feel too disappointed, because those of us who are there certainly don't enjoy it any less! 

Edited by BristolBillyBob
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brain is slightly tired, so this might be a bit stream-of-consciousness and immensely waffly. 

 

What an absolute treat tonight was.

 

I know us ballet fans have a penchant for gushing, but honestly I feel that every single superlative that's going to tumble breathlessly from my fingers will be valid.

 

Before we get started, I'll tell you the phrase, the exact wording that ran through my head, while watching the final piece, Elite Syncopations, tonight. "Whatever it is that Birmingham Royal Ballet has, may they never, ever lose it". I wrote at the end of my RB Giselle review a few weeks ago: "It might be because after two years I've found 'my' company and just have a massive soft spot for everything BRB does," and I think that it's the case. I'll wax lyrical another time, but they just have something that I haven't seen anywhere else, and it was in generous supply tonight.

 

Arriving at the Hippodrome with a first-time ballet-goer in tow ten minutes before the performance after 3 1/2 hours on a deathly slow M5, I didn't really have time to properly get my bearings on Card Game before it started. Unfortunately, this time at the Hippodrome I had a Big Bloke in front of me, slap bang in my vision and he wasn't the slouching type. As I'm 6'1" myself, I guess I'm normally the person ruining the view for the people behind me, but at least I have the common courtesy to slouch like a sulky teenager. ;)

 

Anyway, because of the distraction of Big Bloke, it took a while for me to warm to Card Game, but not a long while. The 'second deal', with the straight flush of hearts was a tour de force of the men of the company. BRB's men are every bit the equals of the women, and it's fantastic to see them shown off like this. The 'third deal' was absolutely dominated by the immensely diminutive (I think her picture in the programme is actually 1:1 scale) Laura Day, whose small stature mattered not one jot - she had such charm and charisma on the stage that I barely even noticed Céline Gittens, one of my favourite dancers. Probably a similar effect to this. It's a lovely part, the two of diamonds, and a lovely scene, but Laura imbued it with real joy. Jamie Bond as the Joker showed immaculate comic timing, and the whole thing was immensely good fun.

 

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue's casting was, for me, the reason why I'd picked this night. Céline Gittens and Tyrone Singleton are an incredible partnership and tonight, yet again, they didn't disappoint. At one point, just the subtlest of looks between them actually gave me a little shiver. Céline was slinky and assured as the Striptease Girl, she seemed to be channeling an 80s diva in a way, maybe it was the Diana Ross hair? Tyrone, in the second half, demonstrated some fantastic tap skills - wasn't expecting that! - and it was great to see him show off his talents away from the partnership (he may do this often, but I think I've only really seen him in PDDs with Céline). I would comment on other aspects of the production, but for me personally it was first and foremost The Gittens And Singleton Show and I couldn't have been happier about that.

 

Elite Syncopations. WOW. I think it's the first time the curtain going up has raised a gasp in the audience. With all the fly curtains and backings removed, the stage just seemed impossibly huge and open. It's almost as though we, the audience, didn't realise how claustrophobic and stifling the accoutrements of the stage normally feel, but now we'd been released from them it was a joyful thing to behold. I'd only seen photos of Elite Syncopations before and I always expected it to feel camp in some way, with its day-glo costumes, but now I've seen it on a stage, I totally get it. It's pure joy. The pushing back of the walls disarms you, it releases you from needing a setting, needing a frame, and allows you to just give yourself over to the pure fun and love of dance as both art and entertainment. 

 

Within Elite, there were a few real standouts. Jenna Roberts never disappoints. She has a remarkable quality whereby she seems a tiny bit slight and vulnerable in a way, but at the same time exudes an almost super-human level of confidence. You know how you watch British athletes through your fingers because you always half expect them to balls it up any moment? Not a bit of it with Jenna Roberts. She just imparts to the audience (in a non-arrogant way) 'Trust me, I got this. I know what I'm doing, and I'm damn good at it'. And she is too. And I remember thinking precisely the same thing when I saw her twice in Lyric Pieces.

 

However, the surprise package of the evening (and I hope you'll forgive me for rattling on about Elite Syncopations quite so much) was Yvette Knight. God knows how I've missed her so far in my BRB travels, and I'll be trawling past cast sheets to try and figure out how, but she was AMAZING tonight. Her part in Alaskan Rag requires a the purity and assuredness of dancing to allow the more slapstick elements to work as a counterpoint, and she absolutely nailed it. She has a classical elegance to both her figure and her dancing, but with likeability in droves and yet a effortless deftness of comic touch. In trying to work out how to convey her appeal in text, I thought of Martha Leebolt (NB), Alison McWhinney (ENB) and BRB's own Maureya Lebowitz as comparators if that helps? No, you're right, it probably doesn't. ;) Anyway, speaking of comedy elements, James Barton was spot-on as her opposite number, showing perfect comic timing too. They both seemed to be having so much fun together, and that was utterly infectious to watch - the audience rightly took the roof off at the end of that segment. And I think this sums up why I enjoyed Elite Syncopations so much - the entire company seemed be enjoying themselves as well!

 

I'm still trying to pinpoint what it is that makes BRB so special for me. I suspect it isn't actually just one thing, it could easily be a dozen. But whatever it is, I hope they never, ever lose it. :)

Edited by BristolBillyBob
  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You make a number of very interesting points Billy Bob relating to the spirit of BRB. I think a lot of this goes right back to the SWRB days. During the 80s and into the 90s I saw l lot of both SWRB/BRB and the RB side by side. Since a single performance of Giselle in 1982 the former has been my favourite company. I put this down to more attractive programming, particularly triple bills, the cherishing of character roles, a higher proportion of Ashton works and an overall ethos of entertaining the audience.

 

A great friend of mine (yes Terry, you know how you are) always says that the Royal has the best dancers but BRB do more with what they have. I think this is so true. I know that we do lose dancers to the Royal but when a dancer like Will Bracewell actively chooses BRB the company has to be doing something right.

 

I must also endorse your comment about the strength of the male side. When looking at David Bintley's achievements I would put righf at the top the way he has built up the men dancers, both in number and quality.

 

I am really looking forward to tomorrow now. However I am almost counting the days until I can see Les Rendezvous again. It has been too many years since I have seen this utter gem of a ballet.

Edited by Two Pigeons
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

but when a dancer like Will Bracewell actively chooses BRB the company has to be doing something right.

 

Did he?  I remember watching him in Jardin aux Lilas in the Linbury graduation performance and wondering why the Royal hadn't snapped him up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a wonderful review BristolBillyBob! After reading it,  I immediately went online and booked a ticket for the Saturday matinee and unbelievably got a front row stalls seat! I can't wait now....! Then it's back to Brum for Prince of the Pagodas the following Saturday.

 

I only realised how wonderful BRB are after they came to Nottingham last year for the first time (with a fabulous triple bill) and also discovered how easy it is for me to get to Birmingham Hippodrome. They are back in Nottingham this June with Fille but tickets are not selling well at all, which is a real pity as they may rethink future visits to Nottingham......

Edited by nottsballetlover
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Notts! Glad you enjoyed the review. It was half one in the morning by the time I finished it, so that's my excuse for the quality of the grammar dropping off so dramatically towards the end! I hope you enjoy the show, more so seeing as it's my recommendation that's prompted you to go! I offer no refunds if you hate it, by the way. ;) Looks like you're seeing much the same cast as I did, so I'm sure you'll have an awesome time. The front row seats should be fantastic, especially for Elite Syncopations. Plus, you're guaranteed no Big Bloke (unless it's the conductor).

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Notts! Glad you enjoyed the review.  I hope you enjoy the show, more so seeing as it's my recommendation that's prompted you to go! I offer no refunds if you hate it, by the way. ;) Looks like you're seeing much the same cast as I did, so I'm sure you'll have an awesome time. 

Oh, I'm very sure I will love it! Will post my thoughts on my return.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I had a wonderful day in Birmingham on Thursday with 2 terrific performances by BRB.

 

Bristol Billy Bob has given a good description of the programme at post number 7.

 

Card Game looks a bit dated to me but it is still fun, especially when it is as well danced as it is by BRB.  James Barton and Mathias Dingman both excelled as The Joker - funny but quite sinister too.  I very much liked Samara Downs as the Queen of Hearts and both Laura Day and Karla Doorbar were a delight as the Two of Diamonds.

 

Slaughter on 10th Avenue - what can I say.  Lachlan Monaghan was sheer brilliance as The Hoofer in the afternoon - what a tap-dancer he is and he acted the role too!  Jamie Bond was terrific as The Hoofer in the evening.  Samara Downs in the afternoon and Callie Roberts in the evening fizzed and sparkled liked the finest champagne as the Striptease Girl.  Both Yasuo Atsuji and Tyrone Singleton made Big Boss a character worth watching, (possibly not the intent) both were hilarious.  This work is huge fun and BRB seem to relish every step.  The stalls were positively shaking with the audience tapping their feet along too, thanks to the magnificent Sinfonia.  I can't wait to see this again in Sunderland!

 

The performance ends with Elite Syncopations.  Both performances were full of delights.  What a contrast between Brandon Lawrence at the matinee and Chi Cao in the evening as Friday Night; Brandon hugely enthusiastic and radiating joy at being on stage in the afternoon and Chi Cao's brilliant virtuosity in the evenin.  Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton were scintillating in the afternoon in th Bethena Concert Waltz and in the evening Nao Sakuma and William Bracewell dazzled too.  I've got to admit that my absolute favourite moment was Yijing Zhang and Lewis Turner in the Alaskan Rag!  They danced with tremendous verve and enjoyment and that came across in waves to the audience.

 

Penguin Cafe replaces Card Game in Sunderland and I can't wait to get there!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Card Game looks a bit dated to me but it is still fun, especially when it is as well danced as it is by BRB.  James Barton and Mathias Dingman both excelled as The Joker - funny but quite sinister too.

While watching the RB performing "Rhapsody" last week, I kept thinking "isn't that step similar to what the Joker does in Card Game? I think it was the foot-dragging step of the lead male (no idea how you would describe that in ballet terms). It's ages since I've seen Card Game, so, was I imagining it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw this programme last night and again this afternoon. I will just limit my comments to Slaughter on 10th Avenue. I think this work is an utter joy from start to finish. This afternoon I finally got to see Celine Gittens as the striptease girl after I had heard so much about her performance. She was dancing with Tyrone Singleton to whom I will yield to no one in my admiration. Can I just say that absolutely everything I had heard about Celine was justified and in spades. She really understood the part and was the epitome of allure. She was so magnetic I couldn't take my eyes off her.

 

Having raved about Celine I must also say how good Samara Downs was the night before. I was slightly surprised that she had been cast in this role but she more than justified it. She gave a really intelligent and well thought out performance.

 

I was very lucky in both the hoofers, Tyrone as I gave mentioned but l also enjoyed hugely seeing Lachlan Monaghan. They were both terrific and I just loved it all.

 

I remain of the view that Card Game is not an opening ballet but Elite was fine. However, it is interesting that there ars no longer any boys who are short enough to really bring off the Alaskan Rag these days.

 

I have to agree with you BillyBob. May BRB never lose what they have.

Edited by Two Pigeons
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think all three of us are right.  One of the things which really has really struck me is that there are no small boys in the company any more.  I think I was wrong to limit my view to that angle only.  Yes, you are both right about the girls.  Some of the girls are very tiny and there are very few especially all ones. 

 

Heigh ho!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I think is really clever is that the male dancers who dance the Alaskan Rag seem to be able to make themselves look smaller.  A couple of years ago James Barton and Andrea Tredinnick greeted Friends in Durham during midscale.  I made a comment about the height difference in Alaskan Rag, which had looked quite marked, to the appreciation of both as they were both the same height!

 

I must say again that Lewis Turner and Yijing Zhang were the highlight for me on Thursday evening!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Saw the triple bill at the Hippodrome and loved every minute - by far the best triple I've ever attended! I enjoyed all 3 pieces but like others above, I have to rave about Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton were utterly mesmerizing and so sensual!! I actually had tears of pure joy streaming down my cheeks at the end, which is rare indeed - I felt so overwhelmed by happiness!

 

Wonderful display of dancing and fabulous dancers in both Card Game and Elite Syncopations, all were just fantastic. 

 

On the subject of the Alaskan Rag - I thought Callie Roberts and Tzu-Chao Chou did it wonderfully, full of humour. It prompted me to go back to Wayne Sleep's autobiography and read what he said about the work's creation (on him). He said MacMillan 'had the brilliant wheeze of partnering me with the tallest girl in the company - Vergie Derman. On her pointes she towered a foot over me'. I wonder if a recording of the original cast survives as he says it was televised?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I've just come home from seeing a slightly different Three of a Kind in Sunderland with Penguin Cafe replacing Card Game.

 

This is such a feel-good triple bill, all three of the works are "finishers" in their own right and it is so wonderful to see the dancers relishing every opportunity.  Their enthusiasm flows in waves into the audience.

 

I still love Penguin Cafe - huge fun but with a serious message.  Highlights for me were all 3 Zebras - Brandon Lawrence, Tyrone Singleton and Rory Mackay; James Barton as Texan Kangaroo Rat, Kit Holder as a Morris Dancer and 3 brilliant Woolly Monkeys - Oliver Till, Jamie Bond and Mathias Dingman.

 

Slaughter on 10th Avenue - I finally got to see Tyrone Singleton and Celine Gittens - they were jaw-droppingly stupendous, I thought the stage was going to spontaneously combust!  Tyrone was also fabulously sleazy as Big Boss, as were Tom Rogers and Yasuo Atsuji.  Lachlan Monaghan/Samara Downs and Jamie Bond/Callie Roberts were also scintillating.

 

Everyone looked as though they were having a ball in Elite Syncopations.  Brandon Lawrence performed all 3 Friday Nights that I saw and was just stunning.  Yesterday afternoon I particularly enjoyed Yvette Knight and Tom Rogers in Bethena Concert Waltz and Delia Matthews in Calliope Rag.  My absolute highlight, again, was Yijing Zhang and Lewis Turner in Alaskan Rag.

 

Thanks BRB for three thrilling performances!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...