Sunderland Empire, Sunderland
Birmingham Royal Ballet are back and whatever the production they bring you can be guaranteed dance at the top of its art or in the case of last night’s production dance at the top of its science.
David Bintley’s BRB’s director has established himself one of the world’s best in his field and so a visit to see them touring in Sunderland had all the anticipation of visiting a Michelin star restaurant. The first production was Australian Stanton Welch's Powder with Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major. I am currently doing some fundraising for the Africa Blackwood Conservation Project in Tanzania and when the clarinet played the music from “Out of Africa” I was transported elsewhere!
The production started with one couple in an intimate embrace and then two more were added and all together seven couples. It was lovely to see Robert Parker and Natasha Oughtred both originally from Yorkshire lead with authority and conviction alongside international dancers like Laetitla Lo Sardo (France) and Chi Coa (China).
The costume department weren’t overly troubled all evening with flesh being the predominant colour on show. The men on this occasion wearing nothing but tight shorts. The lighting throughout the evening was stunning, the design and execution of the sets gave each of the productions a wow factor. The only irritation I had in Powder was being distracted by legs appearing underneath the pillars. That aside it was an excellent starter.
The second production E=mc2 was breathtaking – the opening music for the first of four section was disturbingly discordant from the orchestra and symbolised ‘energy’.
The stage was side lit by shafts of light and the high energy running and leaping accompanying the drums and trumpets was a memorable opening. “Mass”’ was the second part of this dance equation as a bright blue square stand in bright contract to the black back cloth perhaps a reference to Einstein’s comment that God does not play dice with the universe and here a bright blue dice stands in contradiction. The subtle soft blue grey costumes again more like underwear complimented the beauty of the dance not least in the three mirrored pas de trois with Gaylene Cummerfield, Celine Gittens and Jenna Roberts at their centre eventually blending with their men.
The groups huddling together and exploding outwards creating mini ‘big bangs’ led onto to a rather odd appearance of an all-white Geisha with a red fan, with a huge rice dice in the background the only real linkage.
The electronic bass tones shook the theatre and I wasn’t sure if this was to have been the connection of E=mc2 to the bomb on Hiroshima but the dancer danced on to conclude the “Manhattan Project”section. The final part of this main course entitled Celeritas2 brought the theme back with some wonderful backwards trotting in pairs within a light playful happy set. A magnificent main course with an odd oriental ingredient leaving a satisfying aftertaste.
The final production was The Centre and its Opposite by Australian Garry Stewart where tubular strips of light at the side then over head fit well for the dessert course of the evening.
The dancers start robotically mimicking the singular chords, which accelerated into a blur of bass sound while the dancers led by the American Dusty Button spear their legs into 180 degree vertical splits. Like the Powder seven couples were used and although each production very different to the others, there is a symatry which give a very satisfying feel. We have just seen the worlds best dancers performing some of the worlds best living choriographers dances.
Wow a wonderfully memorable evening.