Unleashed At The Birmingham Hippodrome

Last night the Birmingham Royal Ballet Summer Season opened with Unleashed, a series of three short ballets, all with female choreographers.  Lyric Piece, Sense of Time (a brand new work from Ballet Now) and Peter and the Wolf, showcase the diversity and brilliance of ballet, bringing a contemporary feel to the traditions of ballet.

Lyric Piece

The beautiful Lyric Piece by Jessica Lang takes the wonderful music of Edward Greig and sets it against a series of moods that seem to encompass joy and sadness, love and grief and light and shade. It is visually striking, the starkness of the bare backdrop juxtaposes brilliantly against the use of a black, concertina paper that seems to ask questions of the audience, it looks like a wheel, is it linked to movement or machinery? When it is stretched across the floor, is it a track or a treadmill? At times it isolates individual dancers which creates more memorable images that almost bring to mind art and sculpture.

Sense of Time

Sense of Time is a brand new ballet that was receiving its premiere last night.  It has choreography from Didy Veldman and a new score by Gabriel Prokofiev, a score, that in my view, had echoes of Hitchcock movies including Strangers on a Train and North by Northwest.

The ballet is all about time and our modern relationship with it, the feeling we are running out of time, that we never get enough time, that we try to grasp at time. A wonderful opening scene shows dancers moving very quickly as if in rush hour, as Brandon Lawrence moves through in slow motion, it is an arresting motif and sets the scene beautifully.

This is a strikingly modern ballet that shows all the stresses and strains of modern life. One scene shows Brandon Lawrence trying to communicate with Celine Gittens who is totally engrossed in her mobile phone, constantly blocking his attentions. It is brilliantly realised and makes the dance totally contemporary. The set design incorporates a wall of suitcases that rotate, to echo the hands of a clock, as well as to suggest travel and movement.

Sense of time is both thought provoking and visually stunning.

Peter and the Wolf

Ruth Brill has created a totally modern and urban version of a children’s classic, a sort of hip hop version of Peter and the Wolf. It is brilliantly staged, almost as a children’s hour radio show, with a voice over which explains which instrument is representing each character (strings for Peter, an oboe for grandad, a flute for the bird etc).

The story is short and sweet, and the characterisations are perfect, particularly the sprightly Peter (danced by Laura Day) and the menacing, malevolent wolf (Mathias Dingman), the interaction between Bird (Tzu-Chao Chou), Duck (Brooke Ray) and the sleek Cat (Samara Downs) is utterly charming and amusing.

This is a clever update of a well know story, with a industrial style set that totally fits the mood of the piece. This is perfect for adults and children alike.

Thu 13 Jun – Sat 15 Jun

Tickets from £12

Click here for ticket information

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