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Carlos Curates: R&J Reimagined - Review

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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Two new versions of a classic story presented in dance
The legend of Romeo and Juliet receives not one but two radical re-tellings in this double bill presented by Birmingham Royal Ballet at Birmingham Hippodrome. Featuring the ballet company performing Edward Clug's Radio and Juliet and Rosie Kay Dance Company performing their Romeo plus Juliet, both take inspiration from the original tale but move the story in new directions.

Premiered in Slovenia six years ago, Clug's Radio and Juliet has since been performed by companies around the globe. Set to music by Radiohead, it is a narrative which picks up some of the themes and ideas from the original story but presents them in a new way.

BRB Radio and Juliet
BRB Radio and Juliet

Clug's choreography is ambitious and the cast of seven dancers, one female and six male, rise to the challenge with enormous skill and precision. There is a real 'wow' factor to this production as the dancers blend jarring and angular movements with fluidity in choreography which is sometimes achingly slow and at others so fast-paced that limbs become a whirl of light.

Yaoqian Shang is stunning as Juliet, one moment prowling like a cat and the next joining Tyrone Singleton's Romeo for a tender embrace. Singleton leads the pack of black-suited men, sometimes in perfect synchronicity and at others stepping out of the crowd to partner Juliet.

Marko Japelj's stark sets, together with Toma× Premzl's lighting and the use of film projection, help to give Radio and Juliet a bare monochrome atmosphere in which all the focus is on the movement.

BRB Radio and Juliet
BRB Radio and Juliet

The production forms a double bill with Rosie Kay Dance Company performing Romeo plus Juliet, which was premiered at Birmingham Hippodrome in September. Bringing the story into gang warfare in modern-day Birmingham, Kay's work blends a range of dance including South Asian Kathak and Bharatanatyam with contemporary and hip hop.

This performance retains the original cast with Mayowa Ogunnaike as a joyful and na´ve Juliet and Subhash Vimian Gorania as a young man inducted into gang culture who discovers the deal is more than he bargained for.

Rosie Kay Dance Company Romeo Juliet
Rosie Kay Dance Company Romeo Juliet

What sets this performance apart from the premiere is that Anna Mahtani's soundtrack is now a blend of recorded electro-acoustic music and live orchestration by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the baton of Martin Georgiev. The two elements, alongside some spoken word, merge seamlessly and give the soundtrack an exciting new element not heard at the initial premiere.

Carlos Curates: R&J Reimagined has been put together by BRB's director Carlos Acosta and perfectly fits his ambitions for the company to be at the forefront of bringing bold and different work to the city. The programme may be a far cry from last week's performances of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet but together they serve to showcase the differing talents of the company. Finally out of lockdown, it is now time for BRB to step back into the spotlight and show us what its dancers are capable of.

Carlos Curates: R&J Reimagined continues until Saturday 16 October. For a fuller review of Rosie Kay Dance Company's Romeo plus Juliet see here.
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Why? Two new versions of the Romeo and Juliet legend
When: Until 16 October 2021
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From ú16
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