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Northern Tour, BRB


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BRB started its Northern tour in a new venue, Shrewsbury, last week, and are now in Durham for four performances.

 

It starts with one of their new ballets, Quatrain,  Kit Holder's third piece for the company. It is less original and more accessible than Alexander Whitley's ballet in the South West tour. Featuring four couples, from some of the company's most interesting dancers, it has very good design, with an attractive set and costumes, well lit by Johnny Westall-Eyre (albeit a little dark for my tired eyes) and to a tango infused score that I found repetitive and boring but which other people would probably enjoy.

 

The middle section of the programme is a repeat of the bite size approach of recent regional tours, although not in this year's South West one. The first section is 2 excerpts from Hobson's Choice, Will's clog dance, followed immediately by the Lily of Laguna dance from a much later part of the ballet, after the wedding. Mathias Dingman made a very believable Will and Ruth Brill was a convincing Maggie. Next came the first pas de deux of Belle and the Beast, in which Elisha Willis was very touching. Finally, after the darkness, literally and figuratively of Beauty and the Beast, came the brightly lit and joyous harvest pas de deux from Fille, with Cesar Morales and Momoko Hirata, plus Lise's friends. The stage was too small, which cramped their delivery a little, but it was well danced in the circumstances.

 

More Ashton closed the programme with Facade. Kit Holder and Lewis Turner were suitably blase in Popular Song and Rory Mackay an amusing Dago, although I suspect that nowadays the humour may be broader than in the days when Fred performed the role himself.

 

Altogether a varied and well danced programme.

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We happened to catch the BRB in Shrewsbury last week – quite by chance as we had only booked a short break in Shropshire the week before and hadn’t even realised that they were appearing there. We were very lucky to get what must have been the last pair of tickets for the final night of their stay. And lucky is the operative word, because I thought they were absolutely smashing.

 

For some years now, I have read the reports from keen BRB supporters such as Janet McNulty, and now at last I can understand their enthusiasm. I am sorry I’ve missed out on them all this time.

 

It was an extremely well planned programme – and well danced, too. Stand-outs for me were  Lewis Turner (an endearing Willy Mossop) and Ruth Brill in the excerpts from Hobson’s Choice, the  exquisite Momoko Hirata in the “Fanny Essler” pas de deux from La Fille Mal Gardee, and, in Façade, Jamie Bond and Mathias Dingman camping it up in the dead-pan Popular Song and Celine Gittens vamping beautifully in the Tango.

 

It was a hugely enjoyable evening, and what a nice theatre the Severn is.

 

James

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.........................

For some years now, I have read the reports from keen BRB supporters such as Janet McNulty, and now at last I can understand their enthusiasm. I am sorry I’ve missed out on them all this time.

 

........................

 

It seems to come as a surprise to London audiences that there is good innovative ballet outside the capital. It is created not just in Birmingham but also in Leeds, Glasgow and Newport.

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I am going to the BRB matinee at Buxton tomorrow and look forward to it.  I have just been looking at ticket sales for all three performances and am dismayed at how many unsold seats there are. The tickets are very competitively priced for such a world class company and the programme looks varied and imaginative. Where is everybody?

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I am going to the BRB matinee at Buxton tomorrow and look forward to it.  I have just been looking at ticket sales for all three performances and am dismayed at how many unsold seats there are. The tickets are very competitively priced for such a world class company and the programme looks varied and imaginative. Where is everybody?

They're probably all members of the "it's not Swan Lake" brigade :(

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That's what we wonder too Jacqueline!  I'm at the matinee tomorrow as is Marg S and Terry Amos as well as some lurkers.  I'm on the front row of the stalls.  Please say hello if you get the chance!

I am in the front row of the dress circle. Will look out for you!

 

They're probably all members of the "it's not Swan Lake" brigade :(

Yep, they probably are! Perhaps if BRB shoehorned Swan Lake into the performance title, it would be a sell - out. It could even be called '(it's not) Swan Lake!' as in '(up to) 50% off!' Meaningless but gets them in! People see the words Swan Lake and they won't notice the small print.

Somehow, I bet there'll still be a queue for the lavs tomorrow.

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My thoughts on the BRB matinee at Buxton.

I didn't really care much for Quatrain. I have to say I hated the music and that probably did for the piece. I find screechy, busy strings very hard on the ears. Much as I admire the skill of the dancers, the dance itself made little impression. I realise that sometimes these pieces require more than one viewing, but I really wouldn't want to see this again.

So to the 'bites'. I am afraid the clog dance sends my twee-o-meter into the red. Onto Beauty and the Beast, I found this rather intriguing and would like to see more of it. La Fille was very pretty but as has been said elsewhere, the dancers were somewhat limited by the small stage. It also seemed to be very brightly lit, but I also think this was due to the rather soothing darkness of the Beast that went before.

I very much enjoyed Facade. The different elements in this piece actually came across very well on the small stage and it is interesting to see a ballet performed much as the choreographer intended. It is full of wit and character and seemed to be over in no time. There is so much some modern choreographers could learn from watching this ballet, and indeed almost any Ashton creation. He had such a skill for matching choreography with music, an eye for subtlety and clever little details. He seemed to believe that an audience might be able to think for itself and not need everything spelled out. 

 

 

All the dancing was of the highest quality but I would like to mention Celine Gittens in particular. I first saw this delightful dancer in Sheffield about five years ago. She has that magic and elusive ingredient, if I can call it genuine star quality. She is beautiful to look at, full of charm and stage presence. I would like to know why she is still 'only' a soloist and not a principal by now.

Anyway, that is my opinion.

 

I would also like to say it was a pleasure to meet Janet McNulty and Marg S in the intervals. It is good to meet people who share my enjoyment of ballet and I hope you both enjoyed the final evening performance.  

Edited by Jacqueline
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I saw all three performances in Buxton.

 

I absolutely adored Quatrain when I saw the premiere at the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham and I loved it more at each performance in Buxton.  Unlike Jacqueline I loved the music, so much so that I got the recording and have been playing it nearly non-stop in my car!  I loved the repeated movements where the girls rested on the men's backs as though they were asleep while the men moved across the stage and the central duet was just sublime.  Celine Gittens and Yasuo Atsuji were utterly magnificent in this and I also loved the alternative pairing of Alys Shee and Tyrone Singleton.

 

For the bite-size section we saw the clog dance and Lily of Laguna from Hobsons, the Act 1 duet from Beauty and the Beast and the Fanny Essler pdd from Fille.  Given the bizarre rake on the stage I thought all three pieces were extremely well danced.  Lewis Turner and Ruth Brill were a total delight as Will and Maggie and I would love to see them perform the whole work.  I just adored Miki Mizutani and Mathias Dingman in the Fille extract - so joyful.  All three B&B casts were superb but I must mention particularly Celine Gittens and Yasuo Atsuji whom I found incredibly moving.

 

The programme finished with Facade, which was joyously and wittily danced at all three performances.  Celine Gittens stole the show every time as the Dago's Lady.  She was so ditzy she was totally hilarious without ever going over the top.  She kept totally in role during the curtain calls, much to the amusement of conductor Paul Murphy!

 

Reflecting back on the three performances they all belonged to Celine Gittens - surely she must get promoted soon!

 

I've loved the midscale tours since their inception and I am already waiting with bated breath for next year's performances.

 

It was lovely meeting up with Jacqueline too.

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