Let me preface this review by stating that I know sweet Fanny Adams about ballet outside of watching 2010’s Black Swan. That and the handful of lessons my Mum made me take when I was eight. It wasn’t for me. I’m too rigid, apparently.
Taking my seat at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall for An Evening of Music and Dance I was delighted to see a 60-strong orchestra occupying the stage. Having never attended a ballet performance before, I decided not to do any prior research into this production by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, preferring to be surprised by whatever they had in store. And surprised I was, pleasantly so, to find that the Royal Ballet Sinfonia would be providing the music.
BBC East Midlands Today alum, Dominic Heale, was on form as the evening’s presenter, providing background and context on each piece. He also threw in some welcome topical humour that had the audience chuckling.
Lead by BRB Principal Conductor, Paul Murphy, the sinfonia played their way through flawless renditions of Prayer and Pantomime from Hansel and Gretel (Engelbert Humperdinck – no, not the one from Eurovision) and Bacchanale from Samson and Dalila (Camille Saint-Saëns). Ride of the Valkyries (Richard Wagner), one of the most recognisable pieces of opera music even to untrained ears, was a true treat to behold.
For lack of a better term, ballet is visual poetry. There would have been no doubt in any of the audience’s minds that the dancers of the BRB are masters of their craft; the grace and finesse with which they executed their performances was nothing short of breath-taking. That could not be more evident than when Principal dancers Brandon Lawrence and Momoko Hirata took to the stage to perform a poignant interpretation of End of Time.
Choreographed by the award-winning Ben Stevenson, End of Time was inspired by 1959 post-apocalyptic film On The Beach, in which a young couple discover they are among the last living people on earth. The way Lawrence and Hirata beautifully conveyed the couple’s feelings of love and despair through dance made it the standout performance of the show.
By Laura Somers
For more information on upcoming shows at Royal Concert Hall please visit www.trch.co.uk