Skip to main content Skip to footer site map


The company return to London with a new triple bill.

Review: BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET - CURATED BY CARLOS, Sadler's Wells Review: BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET - CURATED BY CARLOS, Sadler's Wells There's a particular anticipation for this new triple bill from Birmingham Royal Ballet. In a programme that feels like the start of a new chapter, after being first trailed in autumn of 2019, Artistic Director Carlos Acosta finally has the opportunity to share his Curated ... works to a London audience.

It's an evening that feels distinctly current and contemporary but with the added star power of Acosta himself taking to the stage once more for a fleeting pas de deux with guest ballerina Alessandra Ferri.

With the natural talking point saved until later, it is left to Rambert's Miguel Altunaga first commission for BRB, City of a Thousand Trades, to open proceedings. Intended as a love letter to Birmingham and its melting pot of cultures, it explores the sacrifices made by those who give up everything for a better life and to realise their dreams.

A frantic beginning sees dancers busy themselves shifting cumbersome poles and crates about the stage. Mathias Coppen's original score clashes and clangs with shades of Thome Willem's In the Middle... The cast of dancers make for an unglamorous and practical workforce in their denim costumes while barely-lit percussionists sit above them on a makeshift platform.

Eventually, the business subsides and we are able to focus on individuals who take on the identities of the spoken voices. "In order to gain something, you have to risk everything" says one, before we see a dancer jump soundlessly off one of the platforms, landing away from the audience. They talk of loneliness, isolation and fear, all emotions that can be transferred just as well to the height of the pandemic, and these quiet moments cut deep and hit hard.

There is a touching and elegant pas de deux that briefly skims across the stage before the choreography builds well with the full cast attacking the choreography with immaculate timing.

While Altunaga has created what feels like a very complete and cohesive work, unfortunately the same cannot be said for Imminent, a classical piece from Daniela Cardim which appears sadly underrehearsed during this performance, with some distracting timing and spacing issues. It's an abstract work that considers motivations to make changes in a world of growing unease. The themes are broad and the choreography not distinct enough to make an impact. The dancers commit admirably and it's nice to see the secure partnering and clean lines but it's sandwiched between two superior pieces.

The best and most sophisticated offering of the evening is left for last, the pinnacle coming in a specially created pas de deux for Acosta and Ferri from choreographer Goyo Montero - an addition to the original version of Chacona seen in 2017. These two could dance the phonebook and you would still buy a ticket, and with now both technically retired (Ferri enjoying a recent return to the stage), how many more opportunities will there be?

Acosta is understated; a sensitive and considered partner, he seamlessly gets Ferri to where she needs to be so that we can enjoy her fine lines and the picture-perfect arch of her feet. Onstage pianist Jonathan Higgins accompanies this tranquil beginning with Bach's Chorale Prelude No 3 before sections played on violin and guitar follow.

They have strong support too. The remaining cast, dressed neatly black leotards and trousers, dance in formations of pleasing symmetry with elegant and sharp technique. They break off into the occasional mini pas de deux before being separated by inventive lighting design that sees them each contained in their own square of stage. Worth the wait.

Curated by Carlos from Birmingham Royal Ballet ran from 4-6 November at Sadler's Wells.

Image: Johan Persson

From This Author - Vikki Jane Vile

Vikki Jane Vile has been reviewing dance for ten years, specialising in Ballroom and classical dance. In 2018, she became a member of the Critics' Circle for Dance.

She prides hersel... (read more about this author)

Review: EK/FORSYTHE/QUAGEBEUR, Sadler's WellsReview: EK/FORSYTHE/QUAGEBEUR, Sadler's Wells
November 12, 2022

Time for the annual treat that is an ENB mixed bill at Sadler’s Wells, on this occasion featuring a couple of lockdown greatest hits, and a bold new production of The Rite of Spring. 

Review: MEN IN MOTION, London ColiseumReview: MEN IN MOTION, London Coliseum
November 9, 2022

Ivan Putrov’s annual celebration of the male dancer returns to the Coliseum with a diverse programme of work, old and new. “Ballet conjures up an image of tutus and pointe shoes,” he says, keen to showcase what else the art form can offer since 2012.

Review: ZOONATION: MIXTAPE, Sadler's WellsReview: ZOONATION: MIXTAPE, Sadler's Wells
October 10, 2022

A celebration of ZooNation and their greatest hits from the last 20 years was always going to pack a punch, but Kate Prince’s Company of charismatic hip-hop dancers can do wit, comedy, pathos and poignancy too.

September 16, 2022

Comprising over fifty Ukrainian refugee dancers, the United Ukrainian Ballet’s debut in London was always going to be a moving and courageous showing.

BWW Review: WILD TANGO at Peacock TheatreBWW Review: WILD TANGO at Peacock Theatre
May 17, 2022

Save for COVID, German Cornejo and his company of Tango dancers have thrilled audiences with their sultry, authentic displays of the much loved Ballroom dance for countless seasons in London. It may have been predictable but it was enjoyable and well executed. Now for their return post-pandemic, they are trying something new, but unfortunately it’s a much poorer vehicle for displaying the talents of highly skilled dancers.