Ballet News Reviews | The Prince Of The Pagodas | Birmingham Royal Ballet
The Prince of The Pagodas
Birmingham Royal Ballet
London Coliseum, 26th March 2014
David Bintley’s The Prince Of The Pagodas was funded by philanthropic support from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s audience. Touring, the support is harder to see. Tonight’s opening might have been watched by Kevin O’Hare & Christopher Wheeldon, among others, but the auditorium wasn’t full and that affects the atmosphere.
It’s a shame because the ballet has much to offer. Momoko Hirata, as Princess Belle Sakura was, in the words of my neighbour, “so beautiful and light she was like air” and Joseph Caley as The Salamander Prince was immensely watchable. The four Yokai (or Honey Monsters, as I call them) were great fun, the Seahorses were lifelike in movement and looks, and if you want pure classical dancing then you have Elisha Willis as the Empress Épine, and the aforementioned Hirata, who both had plenty to do and danced superbly.
The Clouds, Stars, Foam, Flames, Balinese Ladies and Deep-Sea Creatures all add a very distinct flavour and keep the story moving swiftly along.
Perhaps the only stumbling block for some will be Benjamin Britten’s music. A little discordant at times, despite the obvious difficulties with the counts, the dancers acquitted themselves admirably and the sets and costumes are gorgeous, as you’d expect from Rae Smith.
The four foreign Kings are valiant in their efforts but Tyrone Singleton far outshines them all as the King of the South, in costume and in choreography.
Hirata is the star, though, and she glides through the steps with ease and abandon. She is able to convey the story through a simple upturn of her hand, and some of the scenes are heartfelt.
The story is not difficult to follow, though this is a different kind of love story. It’s worth seeing, not least because, as ever, the men of the Company are on fire.
The Prince Of The Pagodas is in rep at the London Coliseum until Saturday.