Review: Polarity & Proximity

Simon Hale enjoys the latest Birmingham Royal Ballet production at the Hippodrome.

Polarity & Proximity was a theme explored with power and passion in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s richly satisfying triple bill at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Ten dancers in black showed how all forms of movement connect us in the opening Alexander Whitley choreographed ballet Kin. Alternate sequences of classical and modern dance styles culminated in a glorious artistic fusion, with Jenna Roberts and Tyrone Singleton at the heart providing a beautiful lyrical coupling to the romantic Phil Kline score.

The power of movement to cross all divides also came to the fore in BRB’s new Ballet Now commission Embrace. Choreographed by George Williamson, the heartfelt work about a gay coming out took us on a journey from confusion and rejection to eventual understanding and reconciliation. Brandon Lawrence, Delia Mathews and Max Maslen danced the central trio wonderfully against a backdrop of clouded backlit glass screens on a dramatically stark and hazy set.

Both pieces, no longer than thirty minutes in length and supported by the excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia, were earnest and seductive in their approach to breaking down barriers. It was just a pity that a permanent spotlight on the orchestra pit provided an unwelcome barrier to the action for the audience, an effect worsened by the stage mist.

Forty-two minutes of non-stop kinetic energy brought a breath-taking conclusion to the evening with the Twyla Tharp classic In the Upper Room. Two groups of classicists and modernists blazed away in their dance styles before echoing each other to the perpetually pulsating Philp Glass score, leaving both dancers and audience exhausted but exhilarated.

Polarity & Proximity is in performance at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, June 23rd.