Programme Onebrings us that most classical of all classics, Sir Peter Wright’s production of Swan Lake after the Ivanov/Petipa version. The funeral cortege of the prologue is a gloomy opening, but explains why Prince Siegfried is so beset by melancholy on his birthday - he is mourning his father’s death. The dark mood is enhanced by Philip Prowse’s gothic-inspired set designs; and the well-known narrative of sorcery, swan maidens and ill-starred love unfolds to Tchaikovsky’s masterful score.
BRB’s corps de ballet is outstanding in the famous white acts; and the sight of them as swans gently rising from the mist is just one of the absorbing moments of the ballet. Now boasting an impressive complement of principals and young soloists, BRB’s Swan Lake should bring us individual brilliance and appealing partnerships as well as excellent ensemble work.
BRB Triple Bill review: Culture Whisper says ★★★★★
Programme Two consists of a triple bill: Balanchine’s Theme and Variations to music by Tchaikovsky; Ashton’s Enigma Variations, a poignant depiction of composer Edward Elgar and his friends; and The King Dances, the newest work from BRB’s Artistic Director David Bintley, now celebrating 20 years at the helm of the company.
Read the interview
Classical ballet evolved from the French court of the mid-17th century, and David Bintley’s The King Dances is inspired by King Louis XIV’s appearance on stage as the sun god Apollo in Le Ballet de la Nuit in 1653.
The piece was conceived as a tribute to the very beginnings of classical ballet, when men ruled the stage, and is essentially a very masculine work. It’s divided into four sections: an introduction, divertissements, a nightmare, and finally the sunrise represented by the king's grand entrance as the sun god.
Bintley uses baroque dance’s very formal and constrained movements to suggest the formality of Louis XIV’s court. That contrasts with the free-flowing choreography given to the only female in the piece - a woman in the moon; she joins the sun king and together they point to the development of ballet from its courtly beginnings.
Music is by Stephen Montague. Costumes for an assortment of colourful characters, such as a scarlet devil and the king himself emerging for his apotheosis as the golden sun god Apollo are by Katrina Lindsay.
Now in its 25th year, BRB is going through a glorious phase of dancing; and whether your taste veers more towards the tried and tested classics, such as Swan Lake, or more adventurous new pieces, such as The King Dances, the company’s forthcoming performances at Sadler’s Wells are well worth a visit or two.
DON'T MISS: David Bintley's has created his second BBC documentary, this time tracing the origins of ballet in the French court alongside preparations for his own The King Dances. The King Who Invented Ballet: Louis XIV and the Noble Art of Dance shows on BBC Four on Sunday 13th September at 8pm.
|What||Birmingham Royal Ballet: Swan Lake/Triple Bill, Sadler's Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
13 Oct 15 – 17 Oct 15, Matinees Wed and Sat, 2:30pm
|Website||Click here to book through the Sadler's Wells website|