Polarity & Proximity is the latest mixed programme by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, a set of three short ballets linked by the theme, showing how relationships can bring us together, but how the same things can also drive us apart. The programme opened last night at the Birmingham Hippodrome and was a powerful exploration of feelings and desires performed by a stunning ensemble.
Alexander Whitley’s Kin is the most abstract of the three pieces, with no real story line, it is instead a story of kin in two senses – that of family, and also of movement – being Kinetic. Against a moody backdrop almost shrouded in mist, Kin is a beautiful exploration of movement with a stunning central performance by Jenna Roberts and Tyrone Singleton.
Kin has movements that echo emotion and conflict, and with the modern costumes and stark backdrop it is a piece that has real power.
For me, Embrace is the most powerful piece of the three, an exploration of love and being true to oneself when it comes to sexuality. It is a personal piece from choreographer George Williamson telling of his own story as a gay man, but also featuring an attempt to try life in an heterosexual relationship.
The characters are not named, there is He (Brandon Lawrence) She (Delia Matthews) and Him (Max Maslen) forming a menage a trois. The relationships are cleverly portrayed, with the love between Lawrence and Matthews feeling pure and tender, whilst that between Lawrence and Maslen feeling more passionate, but also brutal – almost being fought against. The angst of feeling different from the crowd is effectively highlighted by set pieces where ‘He’ is shown to be in the centre of the crowd but feeling alone.
Brilliantly staged, making stunning use of light and silhouettes, Embrace is a beautiful ballet that is full of feeling and emotion.
In the Upper Room
In the Upper Room is just a fantastic, frenetic, exhilarating piece that delights. This fast paced, athletic ballet by American dance phenomenon Twyla Tharp is possible the only ballet that you will see combine traditional points with sneakers, and with stunning costumes by Norma Kamali it feels ultra modern – almost a ballet for those who don’t actually like ballet.
Another ballet that is more about feelings rather than stories, In the Upper Room almost feels like freestyle as it contrasts the style of those in the shoes to those in the sneakers, and with the wonderful Philip Glass score just perfect for all the acts, this is a ballet that can only make you smile, and almost want to join in.
Polarity & Proximity
An exhilarating triple bill.
Thu 21 – Sat 23 Jun
Click for ticket information