dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Peter becomes a girl to catch the wolf
This Birmingham Royal Ballet triple bill demonstrates the versatility of the company and its dancers as they perform three very different works. There is one common theme between the trio – Jessica Lang's Lyric Pieces, Didy Veldman's Sense of Time and Ruth Brill's Peter and the Wolf – all are choreographed by women which is quite unusual in the dance world.
Lang's Lyric Pieces is a series of vignettes set to music by Grieg, played here in piano solo by the company pianist Jonathan Higgins. From solo dances through to ensemble pieces, there is a fluidity and lightness in the dancing which reflects Grieg's different melodies. Lang has also created a set in which giant concertinas create shapes which flow in and out of the action, sometimes forming a background and at others interacting with the dancers.
Veldman's is another work altogether as she examines the concept of time – our seeming lack of it and the busyness of the world today. So we see dancers rushing past each other, oblivious to those around them, totally absorbed in getting where they need to be in record time. But Veldman also ensures we see those other moments when the clock stops and we have moments together, beautifully danced by Celine Gittens and Brandon Lawrence.
Sense of Time features a new score by Gabriel Prokofiev which is a blend of recorded sounds and music picking up this theme of frenetic pace and everything happening all at once. Joana Dias' design features a wall of suitcases which can be climbed over and through – and can come crashing down when we have time to pause.
The final piece of the trio takes us into the more traditional territory of narrative ballet – telling the story of Peter and the Wolf. Prokofiev's famous music and story was aimed at children and there is a child-like cheekiness to Ruth Brill's new work. Brill, a first artist with BRB, gives the lead role of Peter to a female dancer, in this case, Karla Doorbar, who plays a feisty and headstrong youngster.
Brill has researched all of the animal and bird movements which has resulted in some really strong character pieces for the other roles. We have a grumpy duck (Alys Shee), a fluttering bird (Gus Payne), a stalking cat (Eilis Small) and a very menacing wolf (Alexander Yap). James Barton also gives a comic turn as the surly and stamping Grandfather.
Peter and the Wolf
Brill's Peter and the Wolf is set to Prokofiev's score and is a gem of a dance – it's funny, packed full of character and yet still ensures a great deal of technical skill from its cast. The set by Spike Kilburn moves the story out of the traditional meadow into an urban landscape with scaffolding and littered with traffic cones, giving it a modern relevance.
BRB's triple bills offer the company an opportunity to showcase its talent, to give dancers across the company their moment in the limelight and to nurture emerging talent through commissioning new work. (Un)leashed plays Birmingham Hippodrome until June 15 with BRB returning between June 19-22 with Hobson's Choice. For more on the company see www.brb.org.uk