There’s an enjoyable familiarity about Birmingham Royal Ballet’s annual visits to Symphony Hall. With an easy mix of mainly solos and pas des deux, supplemented by standalone orchestral items, it provides an attractive fusion of terpsichorean and musical talent that always draws a large audience.
Among old favourites – the clog dance from Hobson’s Choice was great fun with Robert Parker such an energetic Will Mossop, and the grand pas de deux from Minkus’s Don Quixote showcased star dancers Nao Sakuma and César Morales in a dazzling combination of graceful fluidity and rock-steady balance – Friday’s programme offered fresh delights.
Chief of these was the participation of twenty-four students from the Elmhurst School for Dance, in a new version (by Samira Saidi) of four English Dances by Malcolm Arnold, every movement perfectly judged and spectacularly executed.
Another was the company’s artistic director David Bintley, who proved to be a surprisingly witty host (“cheaper than Alan Titchmarsh”), downplaying his own pivotal role while generously acknowledging everyone else.
Conductor Paul Murphy and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia certainly deserved every plaudit. Their account of Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela (with Maxwell Spiers’ plangently soulful cor anglais) was quite magical; and Walton’s Spitfire Prelude and Fugue took to the air with rousing effulgence.
Rating * * * * *