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Birmingham Royal Ballet, Shakespeare Triple Bill – Cheltenham Everyman REVIEW

Birmingham Royal Ballet return to Cheltenham Everyman after a year of absence. This time with a triple bill of Shakespeare, a series of mini ballets if you will. Easily consumable with two intervals separating the pieces. Their effortless, not necessarily strong but exhibited their control and grace.

They began with ‘Wink’. Sonnets were read out by a young voice and then the stories told through movement. The strong theme of contemporary dance throughout balanced the emotional element of the sonnets. Delia Matthews dance with three of the boys stood out to me as a particularly strong section. Her incredible strength and control drew my eyes constantly. She clearly thrived whilst performing as did the rest of the ensemble, feeding off each others energy.

A set of spinning squares and clever lighting created a vortex of striking patterns and allowing the final crescendo to leave us wanting more.

For me, Arcadia was a clear favourite of the three. On its opening night they revealed the choreography which took place in gorgeous costumes and set in a smoke filled forest. The clear story was portrayed by the lead played by Brandon Lawrence, who also drove the first piece, Wink. In Arcadia, half man, half animal Pan is confronted by the moon goddess, Selene, after she notices his disrespect for the nymphs. This piece captured my heart as their innocence derived from the organic feeling movement and the clear character relationships developed through an abundance of tension.

The Moor’s Pavane. This piece famously divides opinions all across the dance world. It is an incredibly old piece, with the choreography dating back to late 1940s. I was told you need lot of knowledge of Shakespeare to understand, but I managed to struggle through with my simple understanding of the plot of Othello. The old fashioned style mixed well with the stripped back character relationships between Othello, Iago, Desdemona and Emelia. The choreography was a little dry and the piece as a whole was slower than the others due to more of a focus on acting. The piece was archaic and unexciting but remained traditional and pure which was a nice contrast to some of the more modern dancing.

The cast were first class and exhibited their flawless dancing effortlessly whilst oozing control, grace and poise. Each movement was simultaneously purposeful, practical and aesthetically pleasing, a real joy to watch.

Catch this triple bill soon as it is only on a short tour of Cheltenham, Poole and Cornwall.

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