This autumn’s triple bill offers a rare chance to see three one-act ballets by Director David Bintley, all three of which have the potential to become your new favourite ballet. They certainly found favour with different critics last time each one was performed, as this selection of press quotes shows.

Tombeaux is a twilit counterpart to The Sleeping Beauty, with an Aurora ballerina in a delectable indigo tutu who dreams in Jasper Conran’s enchanted forest”, wrote Ismene Brown in The Telegraph, coincidentally referencing the full-length fairytale that we also dance in our current season.

“It is one of Bintley’s finest creations”, wrote Jan Parry in The Observer. “Jasper Conran’s velvety tutus, flaring into colour at the edges, are his best designs.” Meanwhile The Guardian’s Judith Mackrell – who also enjoyed Jasper Conran’s designs – noted the work’s “powered glamour and romantic simplicity”.

“Bintley reminds you that he has a very rare ability to create pure, classical ballet that’s alive with music and invention,” concluded Ismene Brown, before calling Tombeaux “one of the best classical ballets made in Britain in the last decade.”

Tombeaux

While he noted at the time the esteem that Tombeaux was held in by many, our 2009 performances of E=mc² found definite favour with The Observer’s Luke Jennings.

“The key to this investigation of Einstein’s equation is Matthew Hindson’s brilliant orchestral score,” he wrote, “to which Bintley responds with force fields of gleaming, pared-back dance.”

“A thrillingly constructed work”, agreed Judith Mackrell, who also wrote: “not only looks as urgent and brainy as the physics it evokes but is unlike anything [Bintley] has choreographed before”.

Debra Craine, for The Times, was also a fan of David’s choreographic experimentation, calling E=mc² “A stunning advance on most of what has gone before… Bintley has mined a fabulous new enthusiasm for structure and sense of pure dance. [E=mc²] bristles with excitement and a light-hearted unpredictability.”

“Bursts on us with tremendous excitement”, agreed David Dougill for the Sunday Times. “A truly exhilarating achievement, and extremely moving”, echoed Alison Wright, for Nature Physics, adding: “It’s brilliant.”

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The strength of Matthew Hindson’s specially-commissioned score continued to be a common theme for critics.

“Bintley’s explosive talent is matched by composer Matthew Hindson’s writing one of the best pieces of new dance music this side of Stravinsky”, said Jeffery Taylor in the Sunday Express.

“A tremendously invigorating score”, wrote Debra Craine, while Graham Watts, writing for Londonddance.com, described it as “the most meaningful commissioned music for ballet I’ve heard for years.”

The Telegraph’s Mark Monahan had mixed feelings, enjoying the score in places, but elsewhere saying “it sounds as if every member of the orchestra has binged on uppers and then picked up the wrong instrument. It’s a curious work overall, but I’d see it again.”

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The Financial Times’s Clement Crisp is unlikely to pick our programme’s final piece as his favourite.

“Animals, under threat or otherwise, bore the socks off me”, he said in 2009, of ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café.

Thankfully, the ballet is a firm audience favourite, with the Great British public repeatedly proving themselves a nation of animal lovers.

Likewise, other critics were more taken with its charms, describing it as “tremendous fun” (Mark Monahan, The Telegraph), “unforgettable” (David Dougill, Sunday Times) and “another gem” (Viki Westall, Dance Europe).

Neil Norman, in the Daily Express, had a lot of time for the “boisterous and eccentric collection of creatures”. However while The Guardian’s Judith Mackrell called it “a fleet and funny response to Simon Jeffes’s exuberantly coloured score”, and wrote that “There is no denying the bravura appeal of this ballet” she felt that it had dated since its premiere 25 years ago.

Sarah Frater for the London Evening Standard disagreed, stating that it was “still an ingenious work” (also praising its brilliant designs), and Jeffery Taylor, writing in the Sunday Express, called it “as funny and provocative as ever”.

'Still Life' at the Penguin Café

However, with these triple bills, the intention is always to provide an experience for the audience that is much greater than the sum of the individual parts. Each individual ballet should provide contrast and context for the other two, and hopefully increase your enjoyment of all three.

As Ismene Brown wrote while discussing Tombeaux back in 1993:

“A good evening of ballet is all about variety of tastes and textures, and David Bintley, director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, is rather good at compiling the menu.”

Hopefully audiences will enjoy this rare programme of works by David himself, taking the chance to sit down with friends afterwards to discuss the pieces, and discover which are your own new favourites.

Click here for details of our Penguin Café triple bill, which we dance in Birmingham, London and Plymouth.

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