Amy Jackson - Official Reviewer
Birmingham Royal Ballet - Don Quixote
Birmingham Royal Ballet's Don Quixote - The Lowry, Salford - Friday 4th March 2022
A visually breathtaking, uplifting show, perfect for an audience new to ballet.
This beautiful Spanish ballet has an authentic feel with the stunning set, 300 elaborate costumes and fabulous characterisation performed by a cast of 60 dancers.
The musical score was played beautifully by a live orchestra, accompanied by the use of castanets and Spanish guitar which added to the cultural atmosphere. The dancers brought depth to the musical accompaniment through their use of clicking, clapping and vocals.
The large cast of very talented dancers were simply spectacular, embodying the Spanish flavour extremely well. We can certainly see why the director Carlos Acosta calls it ‘the sunshine ballet’.
The costume and set designer - Tim Hatley deserves recognition for his magical designs which elevated the overall performance to a whole new level. Don Quixote is a visual masterpiece of drama, elegance and escapism.
The audience was filled with a range of all ages from young excited children eager to see their first ballet to retired couples looking for escapism. This was delivered by the director who kept the show light-hearted and entertaining throughout, with many comical moments and technically impressive skills. Unlike other ballet's Don Quixote does away with the princes and princesses and instead uses recognisable characters, making it perfect for a 21st century audience.
We would give the show a strong 9.5/10… go and see it whilst you can!
Rambert - The Lowry, Salford - Wednesday 6th October 2021
The cast of 14 strong contemporary dancers provided a thrilling experience with their high energy throughout the piece. The mesmerising and unique movement was a stark contrast from the more balletic choreography seen in their earlier days. As we entered the theatre we were met with an industrial style set comprising of many elements, including large hooks suspended from above, hanging copper panels, tall screens on wheels and what looked like creased paper lining the back of the stage. As the theatre became alive with movement the set transitioned effortlessly contributing to the dynamic nature of the performance.
The stand out section for us was where the dancers were using retractable cords stretched in different directions across the stage to create traps in which the female dancer leaped and rolled in an attempt to escape the nightmare. Comical and surreal moments bring a light hearted contrast from the darker nightmarish scenes.
Choreographer and director Wim Vandekeybus uses an eclectic mix of sound including cultural music, uncomfortable erratic noise and upbeat dance-along tracks which add to the vivid theatrical worlds he creates.
This truly is a comprehensive contemporary dance show which aims to shock, surprise and humour it’s audience.
Akram Khan - Xenos
Akram Khan - Xenos - The Lowry, Salford - Wednesday 29th September 2021
Mesmerising, powerful and thought provoking contemporary dance.
We arrived at the theatre open minded for this performance having seen some of Akram Khans work before but knowing contemporary dance can always be a surprise.
Walking into the auditorium we were met with the sound of a tabla drum and vocalist which created a cultural atmosphere, we were instantly mesmerised. The simple yet stunning set with a triangle of festoon lights, wooden swing, 5 chairs and a sloping stage with tangled ropes adds to the intrigue.
Akram makes his entrance and the dancing begins, but this production is so much more than a contemporary dance piece. It is a wonderful collaboration between set design by Morelia Weingarten, musicians; Nina Harries, B C Manjunath, Tamar Osborn, Aditya Prakash and Fra Rustumji and stunning technical direction from Richard Fagan. The array of different sounds adds to the dramatic intensity and leaves the audience on the edge of their seat. It is truly a show for the senses.
Xenos was commissioned for the First World War centenary, Akram Khan draws on the experience of a shell shocked colonial soldier in the First World War. This is abstracted by his use of opposition which creates a surreal dream-like experience with many unexpected moments. The set disappearing behind the sloped stage signaling the ground being swallowed was just one of many moments which took the audience by surprise.
Xenos is Akram Khans last performance as a dancer in a full-length piece, an opportunity not to be missed.