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International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014 - Launch Night Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Birmingham Royal Ballet premieres contemporary works
Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) heralded the start of Birmingham's fourth International Dance Festival with a trio of eclectic short works.

Performed at The Crescent Theatre with members of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the first night premiered two contemporary productions of Quatrain and Kin before a more traditional offering of Les Rendezvous.

Quatrain premiered as part of a Birmingham Royal Ballet performance for the International Dance Festival

Quatrain, choreographed by Kit Holder, is set to the moody violin strings of Astor Piazzolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

It's a cycle that ends as it starts, stripping down to the bare bones in terms of both the leotard-clad dancers and the dance movements. The repetitive sections are fresh and edgy with striking angular shapes - the complete opposite of traditional fluid ballet scenes you are more likely to have seen before.

There's distinctive scenes, such as when the four female dancers, leaning over their male partners' backs, are repeatedly dragged off stage with their feet flat on the ground.

It's new, and at times, a little unfathomable, but part of the point of events like International Dance Festival Birmingham is to give an opportunity to air innovative works like this.

Kin was the second of three short dances performed by BRB

The second production is another modern dance premiere, titled Kin. This energetic, vibrant work, choreographed by Alexander Whitley, is all about kinetic movement and begins with lithe dancers contorting gracefully into extraordinary shapes.

It's frenetic and exciting with group dances and pas de deux too. Jenna Roberts leads the dancers in this exceptional piece that grips your attention so the 20 minutes seem to fly by within moments.

The delightful Les Rendezvous contrasted with modern performances

The trio closes with a happy, summer in the park, traditional ballet dating back to 1933 - Les Rendezvous.

Following on from the previous contemporary works, Les Rendezvous may seem safe and conventional in comparison, but it is still a delight and the dancing from Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao in particular is impeccable.

Clothed in 1950s-style polka dot pink, yellow and other bubblegum shade dresses, the flirting females coyly tempt their equally colourful beaus in straw boater hats and dickie bows during an outing to the park.

Chi Cao is one of the excellent dancers in Les Rendezvous

It's light-hearted and fun, which fits perfectly with a playful music score by Daniel Auber.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's trio of contrasting performances proved a fitting way to launch the International Dance Festival as it encompassed the changing choreography within ballet.

Offering a variety and a taster for regulars and newcomers alike, that is surely the essence of what this festival is all about.

Score: 7/10

International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014
April 24 - May 25

Further details on all shows can be found here.

For tickets, visit the IDFB website.
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Why? Chance to see world class dance in Birmingham
When: Dance Festival until May 25
Phone: 0121 689 3170
Where: Crescent Theatre and other venues across Birmingham
Cost: Various prices. Some free events
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