flying bottles

Dancers trying to keep their bottle in 24. Pictures: Tristram Kenton

On Your Marks!

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome


What is dance? That is a question posed by the final part of this triple bill, the world premier of 24, itself a doubling up of 12, an earlier work by choreographer Jorge Crecis.

In 12 we had 12 dancers and 36 bottles, 24 saw 24 dancers and 72 bottles which brought together a dozen dancers from BRB and a dozen from Acosta Danza, BRB director Carlos Acosta’s company, and the first time BRB had collaborated with another company.

Crecis, a former dancer with a degree in sports science, has created a piece that mixes athleticism and sport with 24 dancers in motion and the bottles, half dayglo green, half dayglo red, being hurled around, often blindly thrown behind, high into a crowd.

And these are no lightweight bottles, so some will be dropped, some will need a fielder’s athleticism to catch, one even rolled off the stage - everywhere there is risk. There are sections with highly choreographed pairs and quartets in almost circus acts of bottle catching and juggling, there are co-ordinated arrangements of thrown bottles formed into patterns.

Is it dance? Well, that begs the question we asked at the start, what is dance? What it certainly is, is fascinating to watch. Every throw, every catch and every drop will be different, no two performances will be the same, the only certainties are chance and risk.

pas inter

Tzu-Chao Chou and.Brandon Lawrence in a sensual pas de deux 

The triple bill opened with another world premiere in Interlinked choreographed by Juliano Nunes with some lovely, lyrical music from Luke Howard, music with at times themes repeated, becoming louder or faster creating tension or drama in the dance on stage, at times, gentle and emotive.

It is a strange piece, 15 dancers, eight women and seven men, all dressed the same, with the men dressed in the same skirts and dancing the same moves as the women. We even have an all-male pas de deux with Brandon Lawrence and Tzu-Chao Chou.

What was interesting was the simple fact that even dancing the same steps, the same movements, it was easy to tell the sexes apart. Ballerinas have a grace, beauty and elegance, a softness of form, that men, no matter how talented, just cannot match. Even in the gentlest and simplest of movement there is an athleticism, a strength yearning to get out.

But as a work the 15 dancers provide a more traditional ballet piece beautifully danced to the superb score played by Birmingham’s other world class symphony orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under principal conductor Paul Murphy. It was also a piece that showed the talents of leader Robert Gibbs with some fine solo violin work.

The middle piece was Will Tuckett’s Lazuli Sky set to John Adams’ Shaker Loops, a dance which had its premiere at Birmingham Rep two years ago.

It is a dance with high tech surroundings, a full stage scrim allows the projection of a frame, changing shape and perspective for the opening while a rear wall video has ever changing patterns. Dancers appear in giant skirts, opening and closing like the sails on a clipper, while Brandon Lawrence, again, and Yu Yurihara provide a telling pas de deux. It is a powerful piece all round and shows some quite remarkable and challenging en pointe work by the six female dancers.

Three very different pieces, all interesting, all challenging and all entertaining, and, three of the many faces of dance. To 25-06-22.

Roger Clarke


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