Birmingham Royal Ballet's Passion and Ecstasy

Birmingham Royal Ballet were in imperious form with a thrilling production of Passion and Ecstasy, which featured Carmina Burana.

Passion and Ecstasy

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome

Review by Andy Richardson

In seeking to describe Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Carmina Burana – which is one half of their present Passion and Ecstasy production – all superlatives seem inadequate.

It is beyond sensational, beyond moving, beyond thrilling. BRB director David Bintley has created a masterwork that will live long in the memories of those who witnessed his electrifying, tender and deeply intelligent work.

The work was mind-blowing, quite simply, sweeping the audience away in a cavalcade of dramatic jumps and phrases; combining stunning balllet and an incredible vocal performance from Ex Cathedra with the beautiful musicianship of the resident orchestra.

Carmina Burana was an experience, rather than merely an evening out: it was an event to savour in which members of the audience were transported to some far off and magical place.

The work was preceded by a performance of Allegri Diversi, which served as an amuse bouche for the main event. If Carmina Burana was all blood and thunder, all fire and passion, then Allegri Diversi was high art.

Graceful, evocative and absurdly inventive, the piece was characterised by glittering poses and impossibly high jumps and fast turns. It was cutting edge, contemporary ballet at its energetic and breathless best.

Carmina Burana, meanwhile, started in dramatic style, with a single female dancer dressed in black, looking like some evil, man-eating vamp. It was story-telling at its best, with the massed ranks of BRB taking to the stage in colourful costume to recount a sensual and dramatic tale of forbidden pleasures and physical temptations.

Daring, vibrant, rousing and emotionally charged; the dancers set alongside Carl Orff’s spellbinding choral tour de force was a feast for the senses. Live entertainment does not get better than that.

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Comments for: "Birmingham Royal Ballet's Passion and Ecstasy"

Mrs Boswell

Gosh, I must have been to a different ballet today. I saw flashes of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and a touch of West Side Story. Not to mention some choreography that would have been at home in a Morcombe and Wise "play". And something I’ve not seen before - a ballerina who fell over; and some pretty poor costumes. Oh, and rather a lot of gratuitous smut. Very disappointing!

mark smith

I have to agree absolutely with the reviewer Mrs Boswell.

The piece was utterly stunning, incorporating as it did, modern dance ( Westside Story homage ), and brilliant chorography.

Loved the costumes and the dramatic effects.

Memorable, for in my view, all the right reasons.

All of us, and we are all regular visitors, were transfixed.

Lisa Jones

I too agree with the reviewer here Mrs Boswell.

Having the musical score in front of me all of last night I can tell you even with a limited knowledge of Latin and German (Carmina being written in Germanic Latin) that what you refer to as "smut" is simply the storyline of Carmina itself and a pretty accurate representation of the words. Perhaps if you don't appreciate this "smut" you should have researched the storyline a little better.

Admittedly, I was in the pit last night and so can't comment on last nights dancing (although if indeed someone did fall it is hardly the end of the world; it does happen from time to time, it's just a pity it happened in front of an audience), however I did see the first performance and found it quite breathtaking. As the reviewer says, Carmina is "all fire and passion" but it also has some choreography designed to lighten the otherwise rich tapestry created by the dancers and music.

I find it hard to believe that you were at the same production for you to have come away with such a dim view of it, especially after seeing several people on their feet applauding.

Richard Burke

I too wholeheartedly agree with the reviewer. I've been fortunate to see every ballet the company has danced for the last 4 seasons and Friday evening's performance of Carmina Burana is one of the best performances I've ever seen on stage by any dance or theatre company. I watched from the front row and was one of those people on my feet at the end of the evening. It wasn't a planned reaction and I've never had the urge to give a standing ovation after ballet before. It was just a spontaneous reaction and a fitting response to one of the best hours I've spent in a theatre.

I accept performances are subjective, and everyone interprets things differently, however I can hand-on-heart say that is one performance by the company I will never forget. I'll remember it because it was exceptional, not because it was 'gratuitous smut'.

Richard

There's not a lot I can add after Lisa and Mark's comments. I too wholeheartedly agree with the reviewer. I don't have a dance or arts background and know very little about dance. I just happened to stumble upon BRB a few years ago and instantly became hooked. I've been fortunate to see every ballet the company has danced for the last 4 seasons and Friday evening's performance of Carmina Burana is one of the best performances I've ever seen on stage by any dance or theatre company. I watched the performance from the front row and was one of those people on my feet at the end of the evening. It wasn't a planned reaction and I've never had the urge to give a standing ovation after ballet before. It was just a spontaneous reaction and a fitting response to one of the best hours I've spent in a theatre.

I don't feel qualified to comment on the quality of the dancing other than to say, to my untrained eye, it looked to be faultless. Tyrone Singleton and Celine Gittens danced beautifully although my personal highlight was Christopher Rodgers-Wilson who danced every step with such energy and a genuine passion.

I accept performances are subjective, and everyone interprets things differently, however I can hand-on-heart say that is one performance by the company I will never forget. I'll remember it because it was exceptional, not because it was 'gratuitous smut'.

Jan

I must say I was disappointed. I'm a very regular ballet goer (my daughter trains with BRB)and have seen alot of RB and contemporary ballet. For the actual performances my son was singing with Ex Cathedra and I thought the music well outperformed the dancing in general. The final scene was immaculate however and fully conveyed the theme but I was quite bored and reasonably confused most of the time. Wasn't mesmerised by the dancing as I usually am, just entertained by the strangeness of it all. I guess we are all different and a classical piece that does it for someone, won't do it for someone else! That's the beauty of dance variation. You take the risk....