Birmingham’s International Dance Festival provides an amazing umbrella for movement of every kind from hip-hop to Cuban-Latino. Therefore it is an appropriate stage for experimental work such as Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 9-5, a nightmare piece by BRB’s company dancer, Kit Holder, premiered and set to music for a bad headache, by Mistabishi, Matthew Herbert and William Byrd.
Holder’s brittle take on the nervous angst which constitutes modern office life, is topical and disturbing - young men and women are puppets co-ordinated by a coldly efficient female, the office Gauleiter, who dominates their lives and is dominated in turn by the office copier.
People are generally robotic - almost afraid to communicate. Eruptions, glitches and finally mechanical breakdown (with blank sheets erupting like snow) conclude Holder’s clever vision of what is likely enough a bleak daily work experience for millions. His sense of proportion and his ability to get beneath the skin of his subject, leaves me anticipating with interest his next work. Holder’s potential is clearly apparent - his value to BRB goes without saying.
But David Bintley’s three-part programme gives us a taste of everything. Holder’s 9-5 contrasts succinctly with the strangely beautiful Lyric Pieces, in its first performance by Birmingham Royal Ballet and co-commissioned for this year’s dance festival by BRB and International Dance Festival Birmingham 2012.
Jessica Lang has created a ballet of dreams and romantic moods which succeeds beautifully, since it provides the dancers with lyrical partnerings and solos, involving discreet but subterranean emotions, which both touch the heart and delight the eye.
Bintley’s Take Five, set to the Dave Brubeck score, and performed by a live combo, takes the roof off the theatre. A BRB classic for years, it is danced with high-octane energy and class by BRB’s top seed. Elisha Willis is gorgeously sexy, and it is worth the ticket money to see Robert Parker’s wicked eyes as her partner.