This bill is West Wing approved/BRB’s ‘Autumn Glory’

My mind was wandering during the first fifteen minutes of Checkmate in that way that it does (short attention span, need time to settle down and get my head in the game) and I came to the conclusion that what I was watching last night would be a West Wing approved triple bill of ballet. It was also a me approved triple bill of ballet. You know the thing with mixed bills when you look and there’s usually one you kind of go ‘meh, whatevs’ at? Just me? Anybody? Anyway, when Birmingham Royal Ballet announced their Autumn Glory mixed bill I looked at all three titles and went ‘yes, yes and yes’ then had to check back about a gabillion times just to make sure I’d not misread and they hadn’t snuck one in that would make me go ‘eh, meh’. Checkmate would be President Bartlet approved, Sam Seaborne and Ainslie Hayes would thoroughly go for Pineapple Poll and… well, Symphonic Variations had me momentarily stumped but then I figured Amy Gardner if nobody else would go and watch it, in fact she’d probably force Josh to go and see it with her on a date.

Before I get too carried away on a West Wing/ballet tangent… the ballet itself!

Not gonna lie, Checkmate is sinister and creeped me out a little, probably in the way that Wizards’ Chess would. But then I thought about it and chess pieces are creepy. It’s the no face where there should be a face thing. For about the first fifteen minutes I was marginally nonplussed by it then it really got going and that was when I got reeled in. It’s allegoric nonsense in a lot of places (love vs death, death triumphant, yaddah blah, back in Spanish lit but without the dead narrator) but I still loved it: the sinister black queen (never trust a woman with two swords), the weak red king, the four knights each jostling for male testosterone fuelled supremacy and the seriously, seriously creepy rooks marching about like something from some nightmarish computer game. I’d jump at the chance to see it again though…

Symphonic Variations was just lovely. A nice, light, buttercream kind of filling that whizzed by in seemingly four minutes rather than the twenty it alleged to be. It reminded me a little of Balanchine’s Apollo in places (maybe the costumes, maybe the one guy/three girls thing, qui sait?) but that aside it was just a nice, gentle reminder of everything that’s ace about ballet.

The bill was topped off with Pineapple Poll set to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan (but without descending entirely into a forty five minute run of ‘name that tune’) and it was brilliant good fun. Oh, Cranko, you are a genius. G&S in ballet form, just brilliant. Entertained, thoroughly I was. I want to go and see some good G&S now though, I honestly don’t think I’ve seen any since uni… temptation to indulge my inner Telly Tubby and yell ‘again, again’ when it was over was quite high but I refrained and stuck with polite applause (British, dontcha know ;)). Plus any ballet which features comedy facial hair is always going to go down well in my book…

BRB's Pineapple Poll (The Independent)

Oh and because I’m shallow – my hair is looking fabulous at the moment. It’s sort of a reddy-coppery-gingery-blonde and MASSIVE when I let my curls roam wild and free. I look lion-esque, rawr. Also I did a ‘beautiful’ pirouette at the barre the other night, GET IN (and gloss over the ensuing 462 which were all rubbish that’s the one that counts). And tonight it’s the Limen-Maguerite&Armand-Requiem triple at my spiritual home 


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