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Aladdin - Birmingham Royal Ballet (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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BRB are on a par with the San Francisco Ballet, in that they know how to convey a classic beautifully, yet still retain their great reputation for dance. I say dance, as this company do not present staid ballet - with tights and stiff expressions. Their ballet has full on emotion, comedy and a sense of wonder. This new production of Aladdin is no exception.

Although the 1st act and a few of the scenes suffer from being too slow or drawn out, this is almost a perfect production. You may associate the tale of the genie and the lamp and it's owner as a Christmas production - due to the way the Panto has adopted it as it's festive favourite. But here, we return to the origins of the classic tale and it's lovely to look at.

Dick Bird's set is absolutely gorgeous, as it is constantly changing, wowing the audience every time the curtain comes back up. You are transported to another world and this brilliant set design takes you there - First Class. This gives the dancers the most brilliant backdrop in which to work their magic.

Chi Cao is a superb dancer, but the character of Aladdin does not really lend the medium anything and the same goes for the narrative, at times. Cinderella, for example is more suited to ballet and there are moments, where you feel there is too much padding. The introduction of the jewels, for example goes on far too long.

David Bintley knows how to convey emotion through dance though as there is still much to enjoy. The comedy of Marion Tait as Aladdin's mother, the love Aladdin feels for Princess Badr al-Budur (Natasha Oughtred) and the sheer magical beauty provided by the special effects, the Chinese Dragon and other fantastical sights.

Aladdin's friends James Barton and Mathias Dingman make a brilliant double act and they bring a real sense of innocence wonderment to the piece. Tzu-Chao-Chou's Djinn of the Lamp is majestic and powerful and his moves are marvelous. Marl Jonathan's evocative lighting and Sue Blane's excellent costumes also breathe life into this mystical tale.

Purists may feel there is not enough traditional ballet here. But, as a fan of Matthew Bourne and this excellent company, pieces like this make the art form more accessible and in no way dumbed down. But, there is more to ballet than tutus, feathers and tights and BRB prove that with this good looking production.

If you fancy an escape from the cold weather and the gloom of the news, take a magic carpet ride to the Lowry this week.


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