Exquisite elegance from Ballet British Columbia

Birmingham Hippodrome
March 16, 2018

Phil Preece

Breezing into Britain like a breath of (admittedly wintry) fresh air, Canada’s Ballet BC are back after their 2016 UK-debut on the very same Hippodrome stage at the International Dance Festival Birmingham, and did they mean business. The evening’s triple bill by female choreographers was a welcome reprise of that 2016 programme; a great opportunity to see again three pieces which had already intrigued and entranced us. Each in its own way shows off the company’s deceptively accomplished style while, and despite the powerful nature of the ensemble work, allowing every single dancer the chance to shine.

The evening’s first offering Emily Molnar’s 16 + A Room features, yes, 16 dancers, the men in dark T-shirts and All Saints jeans, their passing and re-passing, massing and separating suggesting organic crowds at say, railway stations but with everyone pursuing a different destination. Molnar often uses beautifully soft, slow enigmatic gestures that are both calming and mesmerising.

Crystal Pite’s Solo Echo to Brahms cello sonatas was prescient as the company seemed to have brought their own Canadian weather with them (in fact, there’s a blizzard raging outside here as I write), it featuring a non-stop prop coup of exquisitely falling and very elegantly real-looking snow flakes (it was rain last time) against the dead black of an eternal winter. It brought an audience “Ah!” of delighted greeting to the piece, the mesmerisingly measured movements of which are the very stuff of elemental beauty.

The final item, Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s Bill saw the whole company executing some thrilling ensemble work of endlessly complex and intriguingly elaborate combinations of dancers. I’m not quite sure why I’m worried about the nude suits they had on over their, well, nudity, but there is an old theatrical adage about bare bodies on stage which  reminds that not everything stops moving when you do, so we’ll have to agree it was better thus. But speaking as would-be costume connoisseur, I’ve seen better, and I’m not narrow-minded enough to need censors. However, I did chat to a school party of young ladies under 11 in the interval, so the debate’s still open.

This was a wonderful re-acquaintance with this lovely fresh and sophisticated company, who received the warmest of welcomes and a rapturous envoi for their marvellous show.

I said it last time and I’ll say it again. Come back soon.