Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Fire and Fury

Fire and Fury, Birmingham Royal Ballet

Fire and Fury, Birmingham Royal Ballet - Credit: Archant

“If you’re one of those people who goes to an art gallery and turns towards the contemporary art rather than the old masters then this is the double bill for you.”

The first ballet The King Dances pays a very modern homage to Louis XV1, Le Roi Soleil, grandfather of all Ballet. Choreographed by David Bintley to mark his 20 years as Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet it features an all-male cast (except for the role of the goddess Selene) because David wants to ‘explore the beauty and the contained quality of male dancing which is beyond mere virtuoso tricks’. Yet so contained are the men, that the standout is Yijing Zhang as Selene. Her adagios and pas de deux with Max Maslen are perfectly controlled but also vibrant and glowing.

The second ballet is Ignite, a choreographic unfolding of a painting by William Turner, The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons. But whilst the inspiration is an old master, the dancers’ depiction of twisting fire, swirling smoke and spitting embers is far from the classical style.

This, to me, is the glorious success of Birmingham Royal Ballet. Having seen them a week earlier in La Fille Mal Gardée, the oldest ballet in their repertoire and one that they performed to sunny perfection, to then see so many of the same cast adapt so successfully to such a different style of their craft is truly impressive. Whilst I personally prefer a ballet with enough narrative to include the audience in a more accessible emotional journey, I can certainly appreciate and enjoy the skills and versatility of this company of dancers, the musicians of the ever-wonderful Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and the superb costumes and lighting in this double bill.

For those of us who can get to Cheltenham in May of next year, the Birmingham Royal Ballet will be bringing a new touring programme of work to the Everyman Theatre on Friday May 10 and Saturday May 11. A Season in our World and Peter and the Wolf are specially designed for families and younger audiences whilst still entertaining adults and promises to be a vibrant, energetic and all-round entertaining production.

A Season in our World will be choreographed by a team of three Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers – Kit Holder, Lachlan Monaghan and Laura Day. Laura is from Cheltenham and trained at Corraine Collins Dance School. This is her first commission from Birmingham Royal Ballet so it’s a hugely exciting occasion, which I, for one, will hope not to miss.

For all performances and touring dates, visit the Birmingham Royal Ballet website.