Friday, 5 November 2021

REVIEW: Birmingham Royal Ballet Curated by Carlos Acosta at Sadler's Wells

Miguel Altunaga's City of a Thousand Trades is described as a 'love letter to Birmingham'- however it does not seem to be filled with love towards the city at all. Giulia Scrimieri’s abstract set is striking, built up with structures and poles creating chimneys and factories that build the Birmingham skyline. The dance is raw and dark, with dancers carrying metal poles and building on grey, industrial-looking moveable blocks. Birmingham's 2020-22 Poet Laureate, Casey Bailey's voice rings out and stories are told of immigrants moving to the city knowing no one and having nothing. Dancers perform to the voiceover of immigrants who describe the struggles they have overcome and the parts of their lives they have traded in to live in this city. This came across as overly dramatic for the words being said and although the music -inspired by sounds of the city- and storytelling is fascinating, they missed the mark on demonstrating optimism and hope within the community.

Imminent, a very relevant piece, choreographed by Daniela Cardim, evokes the feeling of uncertainty and fear of what is to come. More of a classical piece, it felt a little too wishy-washy to portray the curiosity of the dancers as they instinctively begin to investigate the open door that looms in the background. The set outlines crumbling icebergs, as Cardim was inspired by the fear of climate change in her themes. April Dalton's were underwhelming and fairly unflattering, with only the lighting design in the second part (Peter Teigan) sparking some action as the urgency of the performance picks up as the flames appear and tension builds. 

Goyo Montero's Chacona was by far my favourite of the three. A more classical dance, with contemporary technique, the dancers weave in and out of each other like DNA. It is spidery and fascinating to watch. The musicians; a violinist, a classical guitarist and a pianist are individually lit onstage as they perform alongside the dancers, creating an intimidating ambience. Acosta has a short cameo, as he performs a pas de deux with Alessandra Ferri. The company intimidatingly stands watching them, dressed all in black, forming a variety of shadows framing the duet. Bach's music is surprisingly upbeat for a ballet that seems so possessive and intense.

Each dance was mesmerising to watch, I felt like something was missing to live up to expectations.

Review by Hannah Storey 

Rating: ★★★

Seat: First Circle E32 | Price of Ticket: £55
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