Birmingham dance is back and it’s a joy, says Jessica Harris.
Lazuli Sky at The Birmingham Rep was a premiere in more ways than one. Not only was it the first time ballet has been performed on a large stage since lockdown, it was also the first production inspired by a new partnership between Birmingham Royal Ballet and the historic theatre.
The show comprised a single act of three pieces, each different in style and mood. Our Waltz was the most traditional of the three. Choreographed by Vicente Nebrada, it was a celebration of romance, a theme which dominated the piece. Set to Latin-infused waltzes, dancers’ lines were beautiful, female dancers in particular rising and gliding with grace. Costumes, in pastel shades, were easy on the eye.
The piece, however, was something of a throwback: traditional gender roles were portrayed throughout and it affirmed, rather than challenged, the status quo. Nevertheless, it enabled the dancers to show skills which have been under wraps for the past six months.
The second piece, Liebestod, was a solo performed by Brandon Lawrence. Choreographed by Valery Panov, it explored the full breadth of what the body can achieve, and the emotional intensity it can convey.
It started and ended with Lawrence adopting a foetal position – a reminder, maybe, of how we all begin and end. Accompanied by an excerpt from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, the piece pushed the boundaries of athleticism and expression.
The third piece, Lazuli Sky, choreographed by Will Tuckett, is the first one-act ballet commissioned by Carlos Acosta, BRB’s new Director. Performed with energy and pace, its references were broad, from the natural world to experiences of isolation. At times, the performers moved in synchronicity, as if one organism; at other times, they danced as individuals, emphasising separation.
Back and floor projections gave an ethereal quality, accentuated by use of costumes which opened out into wide skirts or sails, distancing dancers from one another at points. And yet, a note of optimism was conveyed as the piece reached its conclusion.
BRB and Birmingham Rep’s partnership sees them commit to staging new dance works in the city. This production was enabled by dancers working in bubbles – a feat demanding commitment and resilience by all involved. The theatre initiated extensive measures for audience safety, including reducing seats, to leave space between household groups. Masks are required.
The performance last until this Saturday. Then the production will be broadcast for seven days from 1st November.
Of course, It was a pleasure not only to experience live dance again, but also live music. Let’s hope this is the beginning of our theatres coming back.