Birmingham Royal Ballet’s exciting double bill opens with David Bintley’s abstract piece Allegri Diversi, which is about everything or nothing, depending on your experience.
Four couples evoke multiple dreams of stasis or interaction. Nothing seemed to be at stake except fine movement, and Bintley marshalled these dreamy patterns with admirable intensity.
Joseph Caley and Nao Sakuma proved to be perfect partners, commanding the stage with grace and precision, and once again proving their value to what is regarded nowadays as one of the world’s top ballet companies.
Bintley’s totally fascinating Carmina Burana, backed sensationally by Carl Orff’s thunderous music and a splendid set by Philip Prowse, follows the fortunes of three seminarians as they reject their faith for the pleasures of the flesh.
Priests run in terror from amoral assailants, pregnant women strut their stuff among lines of laundry and street life swings.
Throughout it all, Victoria Marr’s Fortuna, Empress of the World, (or supremo in the fate stakes, depending on how you read this classical icon) struts contemptuously in dark glasses and a red silk tube dress. Like all goddesses, she is manipulative but uninvolved.
One of the ballet’s many highlights is the erotic, yet chilly coupling between a half-naked young seminarian (the wonderful Iain Mackay) and Marr.
Mackay is obsessed by Fortuna. She is finally lured into her arms but is, as you might expect, finally rejected - something goddesses do.
It is one arresting sequence among many, danced by a company on top form. Throughout it all, Bintley’s breathtaking choreography and Peter Mumford’s lighting palette filled the stage with warmth and colour, while Orff’s dynamics (not always helped by a slightly muffled choir) did the rest.
This richly satisfying evening of perfect contrasts proved once again that Bintley is a genius.