Get Out More.............................Ballet Review
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCES (Hippodrome, until 7 March)
BRB’s latest performance at The Hippodrome reviewed by Richard Lutz.
I thought I would kick off with a story before trying to tackle a ballet review. It’s displacement activity because I am out of my depth trying to tell people about the technicalities of dance. But I like going. I just like looking at people jumping around in unusual apparel. I also get to eat ice cream during not one but two intervals.
But as for understanding it or analysing it…err, I’m not just there.
So, here goes my displacement tale:
Many years ago I was handed my first ever dance review assignment on a paper I worked for on Tyneside. It wanted me to review ballet. I saw the performance and, in an earnest attempt to be professional, I had arranged to have a phone at my disposal to put over my 350 words by the end of the night.
The ballet ended and I had my piece in my little notebook. I went up to the manager’s office where the phone was laid on. I put my precious 350 words over to the paper. It was so long ago there was a copytaker there with a typewriter. My wife admiringly looked on.
Then we went to leave. And that’s where the trouble began.
We were locked in. The theatre had shut down for the night. There was no way out. Huit clos, as they say. No exit. I think you get the idea.
In a nightmarish 30 minutes - it felt more like 3 weeks - we discovered every basement cul de sac, boiler room, and empty corridor in the damn place. You have been there many times before in nasty thriller movies that always have a part going for a drooling axeman.
Finally, we found a phone - this was way before mobiles - to tell the babysitter that we would be late. And then to get the fire department to call the manager to say: ‘Let us out.’
It was humiliating and that was the last time I covered ballet.
Now…here’s my review:
For the next three nights, until Saturday, The Hippdrome plays host to Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Pomp and Circumstances- a night of three different pieces. Luckily I have escaped the bowels of an empty Hippo unharmed to bring you these words
The set piece for the night is Still Life at the Penguin Café- a colourful performance with lots of animals dancing around in magnificent costumes. The music breezed along and 45 minutes of pure music and dance went like a snap of the fingers. There was a serious theme about ecology rumbling around but it didn’t really matter. It was a joy to watch. This piece alone, choreographed by Birmingham Ballet’s own David Bintley, is worth the ticket. The person who put together the zebra costume should especially get a medal.
The companion pieces left me cold. The very idea of putting Elgar music to dance in The Enigma Variations is a joke especially when a whole brigade of dancers is armoured in Victorian tweed to tell an inscrutable story about Elgar’s mates 100 years ago. As for the George Balachine’s piece, Seranade, it was more of a museum artefact with its Tchaikovsky music than an electric piece of dancing. The plaudits go, without doubt, to Bintley’s own imaginative take on the animal kingdom.
So, that’s my dance review.
By the way, in an effort to copy all the thousands of other columnists in the UK, I have been told to add a completely useless footnote of what I did this past week.
Richard Lutz went to the swimming baths and saw Homer Simpson in the changing room mirrors. He saw the Woody Allen film about Barcelona and almost fell asleep. He had lunch with Stirrer editor Adrian Goldberg and paid for a plate of egg and chips (Richard did. Not Adrian). Richard ate superb samosas at Milan’s Indian Sweetshop on Ladypool Road.
Booking details at http://www.brb.org.uk/home.html
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