Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) began its life at Sadler’s Wells, first as the Vic-Wells Ballet, and then later as Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet before its name-changing move to Birmingham in 1990.
This month, BRB delved into the heart of ballet heritage at Sadler’s Wells this month, presenting not only Frederick Ashton’s ‘La Fille Mal Gardée’ (for more on which, read on) but his ‘Symphonic Variations’ in a triple decker dance sandwich with the dramatic ‘Checkmate’ and cheeky ‘Pineapple Poll’.
All of which seems an appropriate ‘warm-up’ for their mega-Christmas production of ‘The Nutcracker’ on the biggest London stage of all – The O2. Book now.
Gloriously goof ball, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s ‘La Fille mal gardée’ is a light-hearted romp of a ballet, full of family-friendly charm.
Storybook scenery creates the perfect pastel iydll where the sun perpetually shines on boisterous farmer’s daughter Lise and her farm-hand lover, Colas. Like all fairytale romances there can be no happy ending without a touch of trouble and strife: Birmingham Royal Ballet Master Michael O’Hare’s Widow Simone drives the plot with her insistence that her daughter, Lise, must marry the delightful dimwit (and wealthy heir to a vineyard fortune), Alain, played by characterful First Soloist Robert Gravenor.
Cute as a button Nao Sakuma’s portrayal of the rather brattish Lise is both endearing and humorous alongside Iain Mackay’s bravado-filled Colas. Full of expression and vigor, the loved-up pair wooed their audience with ease, despite their movements lagging behind the pacey score on occasion.
A love story strung together with endless colourful ribbons, interjected with a captivating clogg dance by O’Hare’s pantomime dame and a cluck of balletic hens that bobbed and wriggled to the audience’s delight. It all made for a charming rendition of Fredrick Ashton’s 1960s recreation of the oldest ballet in existence.
Book now for ‘The Nutcracker’, this December at The O2. You can also book for BRB’s spring season at The Coliseum, featuring Diaghilev’s ‘Daphnis and Chloë’ with Ashton’s ‘The Two Pigeons’ and ‘Coppelia’ in March 2012.