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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘full of Eastern promise’

Momoko Hirata and Mathias Dingman in Birmingham Royal Ballet's Aladdin. Photo: Bill Cooper

Originally made for the National Ballet of Japan, David Bintley’s Aladdin is an efficacious antidote to the panto versions at this time of year. Disney may have the songs but Birmingham Royal Ballet has the dancers and the lush vivacity of Carl Davis’s Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky-inspired score more than compensates.

Visually, it is a feast: a souk in ‘old Arabia’ is realised in a set of many carpets, a bath house comes complete with lightly steamed odalisques and a cave is entered by the ribcage of some prehistoric beast.

Bintley’s choreography is never less than elegant, shifting ensembles around the stage with the graceful flurries of wind-blown leaves. The eight Desert Winds are notably erotic, distracting young Aladdin at the behest of the wicked Mahgrib. Bintley’s attempt to emulate Balanchine’s Jewels in the cave scene might be an ambition too far but the regal Gold and Silver quartet is a prime example of the company’s exacting standards in phrasing, interpretation and coordination.

There are enough illusions to satisfy the youngest audience including an impressive blue genie or Djinn who floats in a cloud of smoke, a magic carpet that travels around the stage and not one but two dragon dances.

Quite what Chinese dragon dances are doing in old Arabia is open to question, but who cares? It may be more show than tell, but what a show.

Verdict
David Bintley’s handsomely mounted production is full of Eastern promise

Production

Production
Aladdin
Venue
Sadler's Wells
City
London
Starts
October 31, 2017
Ends
November 2, 2017
Press night
October 31, 2017
Composer
Carl Davis
Choreographer
David Bintley
Set
Dick Bird
Lighting
Mark Jonathan
Costume
Sue Blane
Technical
Ben Leveson (head of stage), Marion Tait (assistant director), Michael O’Hare (senior ballet master)
Stage manager
Diana Childs
Cast includes
Mathias Dingman, Momoko Hirata, Valentine Olovyannikov, Tzu-Chao Chou, Marion Tait, Jonathan Payn, Kit Holder, Lachlan Monaghan, Ruth Brill, Anna Ciriano-Cerda, Karla Doorbar, Rosanna Ely, Elisabetta Formento, Reina Fuchigami, Lynsey Sutherland, Daria Stanciulescu, Laura Day, Maureya Lebowitz, Miki Mizutani, Yvette Knight, Delia Mathews, Haoliang Feng, Edivaldo Souza da Silva, Jenna Roberts, Brandon Lawrence, Nao Sakuma, Tyrone Singleton, Celine Gittens
Producer
Birmingham Royal Ballet, Houston Ballet Foundation
Running time
2hrs 10mins