On Their Toes (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
One has truly become a fan of BRB’s triple bills due to the sheer quality and variation of the performances they present, each demonstrating a varying narrative, style, and purpose.
Whilst there is no doubt that the company is one of the front runners in presenting the classics such as The Nutcracker and next weeks presentation of Swan Lake; within On Their Toes the audience are given an insight into the adaptability of their ensemble and the skill they completely embody as dancers.
The first of three performances, entitled Theme and Variations, captures the grandeur of traditional ballet in its sweeping chorus and perfect unison of movement. The result is truly eye catching; however, it is when we move to the more contemporary pieces of the repertoire that one is exposed to the true highlights of the evening.
Grosse Fugue, choreographed by Hans van Manen is a visually striking wash of contrasting blacks and whites in its design and movement. In an exploration of masculinity and femininity, the piece makes use of the physicality of its performers and is a demonstration of the sheer physical strength of the performers. First Artist, Aaron Robinson makes full use of his muscle bound physic in leading the ensemble of men with a full exertion of commanding power and strength. Sometimes the troupe compromise their execution of unison, but always remain in full control of their domineering presence.
The final presentation of the evening, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, is a trip to a sleazy downtown speakeasy full of tap dancing gangsters and loose women. In contrast to the tight ballet disciplines of the previous pieces, the style is very much reminiscent of the early musical theatre genre of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Complete with a chorus of blonde bobbed girls and tap dancing solo’s the performance provides a witty comparison to its predecessors and a great platform to demonstrate the varying talents of Birmingham Royal Ballet's ensemble.
On Their Toes is another fine triple bill by the Birmingham based company, and a real demonstration of their varying skill.
- Ben Wooldridge