Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review | DARKNESS & LIGHT (Birmingham Royal Ballet) June 2014

There is little more that excites my theatrical mind than the idea of Birmingham Royal Ballet triple bill. What you can always expect is a varied yet relevant collection of works. Here, three ballets by Frederick Ashton contrast in themes of darkness and light - hence the collectively named trilogy. 

The first, Les Rendezvous is a delightful dance to the backdrop of Anthony Ward's simplistic park setting. Friends meet, and it has no serious portent at all. It's pleasant, charming and the portrayal of idyllic life. This is one that is so easy to lose yourself in - the fusion of colour and of energy - it's like Disneyland. A fantasy land that is introduced, enjoyed and over within 24 minutes. 

As with all of the three ballets, they're finished within little over 20 minutes each. They're perfect,  concentrated little pieces that don't leave you looking at your watch, or fidgeting to find a different position for your feet! These would make a perfect introduction to ballet. 

The second piece, Dante Sonata is quite obviously the 'darkness' ... it is a battle between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness and is of much harsher tone. First performed in 1940 at the Sadler's Wells Ballet, this wartime creation explores torment and shame and is clearly the ballet of real power. 

The third ballet lightens the mood once more - Façade, a joyous celebration. It felt almost as if it was happening in a Mary Poppins film, it was random, colourful and cute. Ruth Brill is brilliant as The Milkmaid, it was like Coppélia. Humour was provided by the excellent Lewis Turner and partner Kit Holder who perform Popular Song in a perfectly synchronised act. 

See a rehearsal video for Façade.

Darkness and Light is the perfect blend of ballets, varying styles, paces and themes - all three ballets within a succinct 2 hours. Don't miss them at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sat 7 June. Book tickets here

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