Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty

The Birmingham Royal Ballet returned to Birmingham this week with a spellbinding performance of Sleeping Beauty. Transforming the Birmingham Hippodrome stage into a Georgian setting fit for royalty, the dancers of the BRB created a magical and enthralling fairy tale that had just the right amount of menace and spice.

We all know the story of the Princess Aurora, gifted every one of life’s advantages by a stream of beautiful fairies. This was represented in a series of solo dances representing modesty, honour, joy, and, of course, beauty. The mood is bright and beautiful, full of sparkle and light. Unfortunately, no one invited the dark Fairy, Carabosse, and so she invites herself along, determined to destroy the occasion by placing a death sentence on the infant Princess. The moment that Carabosse entered, as danced by the wonderful Nao Sakum , is one that will live in the memory for a long time. She is a remarkable presence, truly frightening in her manner, stance and exquisite black costume. Carried aloft by her bat-like attendants and accompanied by a roll of thunder, Carabosse is the embodiment of fairytale evil. I must admit, I loved her. It’s a bit of a paradox, but her dark blend of charisma lit up the stage every time she appeared.

But the evil of Carabosse had an stunning counterpoint in the Lilac Fairy. Jenna Roberts plays this beautiful enigma, the fairy who had yet to deliver her gift, which turns out to be the gift of life. The Lilac fairy looks so perfect, think Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, and dances with such lightness and elegance that you could not fail to be enchanted. The contrast between Sakumo and the Lilac Fairy is exquisite.

tumblr_m6yb36ANxk1rpvemio1_500 The second act introduces a grown up Aurora, one with suitors, who pirouette the Princess around like a ballerina in a jewel box during the famous Rose Adagio. Aurora is Momoko Hirata, who is everything the role requires. Tiny and beautiful and so charming in her movements and expressions, Hirata invests her character with joy and grace, she is simply a joy to watch. She shows incredible poise during the Rose Adagio, the pirouette is perfect in every way.

The spindle is not attached to a spinning wheel, but hidden in flowers, a neat touch which means all the palace get to see the Princess fall into her deep sleep. It is at this point that the amazing scenery really comes into its own, with layer upon layer of flora and fauna helping to hide and protect the enchanted palace.

Mathias Dingman is the suitably handsome Prince who comes to the rescue of the Sleeping Beauty, transfixed by the vision conjured up by the Lilac Fairy. Dingman is athletic and virile in the role of the handsome Prince, and his solo dances were perfect. His rescue of the Princess through the power of his kiss set us up for an unforgettable finale, one that shimmered and sparkled in a way that left the audience gasping at its sheer beauty.

This classic Peter Wright production continues to enchant new generations. The music of Tchaikovsky continues to soar. All in all, perfection.

An enchanting ballet for all the family.

Wed 14 – Sat 24 Feb

Click here for ticket information

Obsession Marlene Dietrich – The Pierre Passebon Collection

The word legend can sometimes be overused, but it is certainly the only word to use when talking about Marlene Dietrich. A formidable actress, style icon, stage and cabaret star, Marlene was unconventional, original and beautiful, elevating androgynous style into an art form. Now, in a new book from French publishing house Flammarion, Marlene’s effortless style is celebrated once more.

The book, ‘Obsession Marlene Dietrich’ by Henry Jean Servat, uses rare photographs of the actress from the collection of Parisian tastemaker Pierre Passebon. An interview with Passebon is included in the book, and it is there that he details the depth of his obsession with the actress, one which stretched far before he started his incredible photographic collection.

The book is a mini coffee table tome, with many double page spreads of images of the actress running throughout her career. The images include rare stills from her movies, including the iconic Blue Angel image shown in both a censored and uncensored version (so fascinating to see them side by side). There are also images from her public life which show off her androgynous style, something that was quite shocking in 1930s Hollywood, and also publicity stills taken by legendary photographers like Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Milton Greene and Edward Steichen amongst many more illustrious names. The images are all in atmospheric black and white, just adding to the allure and glamour of the golden age.

This is a book that is as stylish and glamorous as the actress herself, beautiful enough to have on display, small enough to be able to keep it in your bag to read on the train home. This book captures the essence of a woman who was utterly modern and non conforming, and yet managed to have Hollywood eating out of her hands, creating an indelible legend that will never fade.

You can find the book at Amazon by clicking here.

What to Wear: Casinos

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When the safe, yet repetitive tedium of work and home becomes all too much, the urge to throw on your glad rags, order a taxi and head to the bright lights of town is enormous. Although we all know what’s great to wear for a tip out on the tiles, an increasingly popular late night pastime is somewhat more mysterious when it comes to deciding what to wear: the casino. We’ve all been told scare stories of how degenerative gambling can be- and these stories are indeed true- but enjoying one night of silliness and excitement is perfectly all right every once in a while! Nowadays the popularity of playing these types of games is so huge, many websites offer live deal entertainment where players can play others across the net, and if you use a Harrah’s casino promotion code you could get a free deposit and an 100% bonus. You might not feel the need to dress up for this kind of fun, but nevertheless, what exactly do you wear at the traditionally glitzy hotspots?

Firstly, one must take into account the fact that certain casinos are more glamorous and upmarket than others; in Vegas, as long as you are clean and vaguely tidy, you’ll be let in, contrasted with Monte Carlo’s casinos, where suits and gowns are a must-wear!

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In London especially, the need to wear formal wear is an absolute must. For ladies this means long, flowing or glittering gowns that fall well below the knee. Necklines shouldn’t be ridiculously plunging, so jewel, illusion, keyhole or bateau cuts will all be fine. Colour-wise, the selection is very much up to you, however this season bright pastel colours, subdued light blues and radiant purples and violets are very much in fashion.

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Eva Green in Casino

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In a casino, as a general rule of thumb, the more glamorous and flashy one’s style is, the more attention and better service you will receive! Also, really good fashion choices might give you an edge on your opponents at the table, psyching them out and improving your chances of winning!
Now some of us simply aren’t so stated in our sartorial endeavors, but there’s no need to fret! Three quarter length slim fit trousers, coupled with a structured blouse and jacket will look just as good as a flowing gown, and should probably be one’s first choice if you’re visiting with colleagues.

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For the gentlemen, suits are a must, although this doesn’t mean a full, restrictive suit needs to be worn. A stylish jacket, worn with woolen trousers or crisply cut chinos alongside leather shoes and a fashionable shirt could be just what is needed, although in the very upmarket establishments a full suit-tie combo or tuxedo should really be worn. As with anywhere, different casinos operate different dress codes, and many will be completely fine if you choose a smart casual approach.

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