An Evening of Music and Dance

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Symphony Hall


IT has been about thirty years since David Bintley’s name has appeared in the cast list rather than listed above it as the choreographer.

So it was a blast from the past when Birmingham Royal Ballet’s director donned greasepaint and costume as Doctor Coppélius in an excerpt from Act II if Delibes Coppélia – which will be  BRB’s next full ballet, incidentally.

Bintley established quite a reputation as a character dancer with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, forerunner of the BRB, in the 1970s and despite the long time resting between engagements, Bintley was both funny and precise in a fine performance as the good doctor with Momoko Hirata matching the boss step for step in a delightful performance as Swanhilde.

She cleverly involved a violinist from the excellent Royal Ballet Sinfornia, as well as leader Robert Gibbs and conductor and music director Koen Kessels.

Bintley told the audience later, in his dayruth brill job, that his two sons were in the audience and it was the first time they had seen him dance – like the rest of the audience, they couldn’t fail to be impressed.

Prior to the echoes of the past the programme included a glimpse of the future with pupils from years 10-12, aged around 14-17, from Elmshurst School of Dance, where former BRB favourite Robert Parker is making his talented mark as artistic director

Ruth Brill who choreographed her second Symphony Hall piece

The pupils danced to Tchaikovsky Concerto Classique, choreographed by Elmshurst teacher Lee Robinson and they did him proud. Ballet school to professional ballet company is a huge leap but on this performance the first steps have already been taken.

One of the soloists, Hamish Scott, is the son of the orchestra’s principal clarinettist Ian Scott while his mother plays in the violin section, making it a real family affair.

The evening is labelled music and dance and opened with one of the most popular pieces in the world, Chabrier’s España which only served to show that Birmingham can boast two fine symphony orchestras.

The Sinfonia also performed Mascagni’s intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, Delius’s The Walk to The Paradise Garden and Ravel’s La Valse.makay and willis

Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No 2, Matryoshka, saw a Symphony Hall choreography return for BRB dancer Ruth Brill who last year choreographed a ballet to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. This was a more refined piece with elements of fun and some well-timed interplay by the eight dancers

Iain Mackay and Elisha Willis reprise their pas de deux from Cinderella

Principal Iain Mackay, fully recovered from his horrendous ankle injury, was reunited with Elisha Willis, the same pairing as in the premiere of David Bintley’s Cinderella in 2010, dancing the Act II pas de deux to Prokofiev’s lyrical music.

There was a second piece from Cinderella, which is being performed in Japan in a couple of months incidentally, with Bintley explaining that he has never been happy with the four season’s dance and presented the premiere of the latest version.

The final piece was the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake with Tyrone Singleton as the Prince and Céline Gittens as Odile who gave us an impressive number of fouettés in  Dance which completed a splendid evening of Music and dance.

BRB return to Birmingham Hippodrome with three American ballets in Moving Stateside from 18-22 February and Coppélia from 14-28 February.

Roger Clarke



From the other end of the row


THERE was an unexpected treat for the audience in the second half of this concert-style performance by the superb BRB.

An excerpt from Delibes’ ballet, Coppelia, featured Momoko Hirata, playing Swanilda, with a ‘guest’ in the role of Dr Coppelius, but who was the mystery man performing with such talent and humour as the batty old inventor?

It was only later that all was revealed. The un-named star was none other than the show’s compere, David Bintley, the company’s legendary director and choreographer.

“I haven’t done that for 30 years, and my two sons, who have never seen me dance before, are in the audience,” he admitted.

The piece was a delight, with Hirata cleverly delivering the actions of one of Dr Coppelius’s dolls, combining perfectly with Bintley and even involving one or two members of the orchestra and conductor Koen Kessels!

In was a nice touch on a night when the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, normally hidden away in the orchestra pit, were on stage in full view of the customers who particularly enjoyed their performance of Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana.

Ballet stars from the present and the future excelled, with outstanding students from the Elmhurst School for Dance, years 10 and 12, impressing in Tchaikovsky’s Concerto Classique, danced to Suite No 3 Theme and Variations Polacca, then the finale featuring Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton in a brilliant Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake.

Paul Marston 

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