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BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET - SIR FRED AND MR B

19-06-2009

Richard Lutz puts on his dancing shoes and reviews the new offering by Birmingham Royal Ballet.

I like dance. I like it in a small studio where you can fell the sweat and hear the grunts of the dancers and the creak of the floorboards. And I like bigtime action like the city’s Royal Ballet with its vast stage, amazing looking human beings and grip-you-in- the-groin set designs.

And one other thing I especially like: the names in the programme. The dance world seems to come up with some real whoppers. For this week’s production, Sir Fred and Mr B , your tongue can try to get around the following artists, both alive and dead:

Balanchine, Maria Calegari, Rouben Ter Arutunian, Lei Zhao, Momoko Hirata and Laetitia Lo Sardo.

Now those are names. They just don’t hear them in Kings Heath or Erdington. And when you go through the programme for this ballet, you simply won’t find a Derek or a Brenda. They wouldn’t be allowed.

I could imagine this:

Boss (to student): You are the greatest dancer since Nureyev.
Student: Thanks
Boss: What’s your name?
Student: Reg.
Boss: Have you thought about podiatry?

Anyway- to the review.

Sir Fred and Mr B refers to choreographers Sir Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine.

The night’s productions were two separate ballets by those big time ballet names. Ashton used music by Tchaikovsky (based on a Mozart inspiration.) for a stripped down series of dances, called Mozartiana, that used no set design.

The only ornaments were some great little budding starlets from The Elmhurst School for Dance. Good on the Royal Ballet for having the courage for putting these little flowers on stage with the big time heavy hitters. Great on the girls for being on stage. The audience, I would assume, was littered with beaming mothers and tear stained dads.

The second piece, The Two Pigeons, was a Frederick Ashton ballet which is heralded as a masterpiece but seemed to be pretty gloopy stuff about an artist torn between his lover and the wild gypsy woman. Hasn’t about 126 movies gone down that route? Five stars though for the production team as it let fly with pigeons on the backdrop to allow the metaphor to take wings. All very nicely done. The gypsies’ dance, by the way, is a leaping spinning hoot, but otherwise it’s a dated narrative.

All in all, though, hats off to Balanchine, Ter Arutunjian and Los Sardo and everyone else.

You give great dance. You have great names.

Sir Fred and Mr B and, a second production, Love and Loss are at the Hippodrome until 27th June More details at birminghamhippodrome.com

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