Thursday, 18 June 2015

Review | THE KING DANCES / CARMINA BURANA (Birmingham Royal Ballet) June 2015

Celebrating 20 years of Artistic Director, David Bintley, Birmingham Royal Ballet present his first and most recent ballets for the company at Birmingham Hippodrome this week. 

The King Dances is the 1653 story of the 14-year-old Louis XIV of France who danced the role of Apollo the sun god in Le Ballet de la nuit, and earned himself forever the soubriquet the Sun King. In the ballet, David Bintley re-imagines the very beginnings of ballet, when men were quite literally, the kings of dance.

From it's fiery opening with flickering flames, the Messieurs are perfectly poised but it is ultimately, Le Roi, the Sun King danced by William Bracewell who commands attention over the discordant score. His duet with the moon, Yijing Zhang's Selene, la Lune is simply beautiful and leads nicely into a striking finale of glowing gold. 

It all overseen by the brilliance of seasoned dancer Iain Mackay as La Nuit who's turn as Le Diable, the devil adds a welcome change in dynamic. It is rather succinct at only 35 minutes but is nonetheless pure, undiluted brilliance. 

1995's Carmina Burana opens with the familiar 'O Fortuna' - the last time I was sat at Birmingham Hippodrome listening to that song, I was being covered in snow by clowns, it's a versatile an anthem. Here it provides the perfect introduction to the angular, disjointed choreography, executed with gusto from CĂ©line Gittens,  as a break from the more classical ballet of which we were treated to earlier in the evening. 

If it's something BRB do well, it's providing contrast in it's double and triple bills whilst keeping the theme relatively correlating. Carmina Burana keeps the dark drama of the first piece but despite being 20 years old injects a freshness through the abandoning of structure and the exploration of fate. 

Divided into several departures from faith, 'On The Village Green' is sprightly, much like MacMillan's Elite Syncopations, an injection of colour, flirtatious and contests with the equally entertaining 'In The Tavern' which also draws parallels with Jooss' The Green Table - gluttons in masks and gloves dancing around a table on which Daria Stanciulescu is presented as an effortlessly delicate Roast Swan. 

The climax, a reprise of O Fortuna is preceded by a breathtaking sequence for the tearing down of the backcloth and revealing of a concert-like spectacle that's all in the staging. 

Not only The King Dances but the evening as a whole is deliciously dark and by it's climax, glows gloriously. 

At Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday. Click here for tickets. 

View the trailer for Carmina Burana

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