Tag Archives: birmingham

Ballet all weekend…!

It’s really been a week full of ballet for me. I did go to see the Royal Opera House Nutcracker back on December 2nd. I love the ROH production. The tree is just the best in the world. It rises into the rafters of the ROH and I never fail to get excited by seeing it once again.

But, last weekend I went to see Matthew Bourne’s production of Swan Lake on Saturday and then the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker on Sunday.

I remember being at the premiere of Bourne’s Swan Lake back in 1995 with Adam Cooper as the Swan and Scott Ambler as the prince. I saw it several times back then, I saw it on tour, I saw it when Simon Cooper replaced Adam at the Piccadilly theatre, and I saw it when it returned to Sadler’s Wells about two years ago… this is a show I have seen a lot. And I only had cheap seats for this performance, but it was magnificent.

The show has not aged. In fact, after watching it again I started appreciating the dance more than ever before. There are a couple of really beautiful waltzes and pas de deux in this show and sometimes the humour and musical theatricality of it can detract from the ballet. But this time when I watched, I really noticed the dance above everything else and that really cheered me.

Matthew Bourne has choreographed some other fine shows. He is an amazing talent, but he must surely be able to die a happy man knowing that this production is getting better as it gets older. And I was such as fan of Adam Cooper before he started dancing for AMP, back in his Royal Opera House days, so it’s surprising to think it could be bettered.

Then, on Sunday I jumped on a train from Euston in the morning so I could see the BRB Nutcracker at lunchtime.

One of the things about matinee Nutcrackers is that they are often filled with kids, and this was no exception. The Nutcracker is a show filled with Christmas spirit and many dancing children (the BRB show featured kids all the way from Elmhurst), but I just love the score. Sometimes I’d really love to hear the entire Tchaikovsky score without listening to kids munching on Monster Munch or asking their mum ‘Who is that magician guy?’ or listening to a mother telling her child that the Arabian dancers are Egyptians…

I’d be moaning too much if I suggested that I didn’t enjoy the show, and the atmosphere in the crowd is also one of Christmas fun with all those kids around, but even so. I guess if I want to enjoy the music I can just listen to the ROH recording on my iPod anyway.

The dancers at the BRB were good though. I don’t really know any of the BRB dancers so I was not being selective in who I saw. Momoko Hirata was the Sugarplum fairy when I went. It was extremely good and surprisingly I really liked Act 2. I usually prefer the dance in Act 1 much more than Act 2, but the BRB show was special from the moment Clara appeared after the interval, flying across the stage on a huge swan.

So, I really had a weekend full of dance. And now I am off on a trip to Brazil. Guess which show I am going to go and see on Saturday at the main theatre in Sao Paulo?

The Nutcracker!

The Ashes and the Barmy Army…

I was in Birmingham yesterday to see Australia play England in the 3rd Ashes test – it was the final day of the test.

Given the amount of play lost to rain in this test (Saturday was a total washout), it was always likely to be a draw, but we started out on the last day with the distinct possibility of a win for England – if they could get a few quick wickets early in the day. However, Australia dug in and clung on for the draw.

I usually go to the test matches at Lord’s or the Oval, the two big London grounds, and I’ve never been to Edgbaston in Birmingham before, but I am travelling a lot in August so I’m going to miss the test match in London. They have already played at Lord’s, but I was too busy to go. I realised that if I didn’t go to see some play at Edgbaston then I wouldn’t see anything of the Ashes this year.

So I went on eBay and found a guy selling a single ticket. It cost me £40, which is more than face value for Edgbaston, but cheaper than London… as even the fifth day is sold in advance for the Ashes games. I booked a train ticket with Chiltern trains, which was just £15 return to Birmingham compared to £52 from Euston. Cheaper, but a lot slower.

I didn’t notice, until the eve of the game, that the eBay seller had actually sent me 2 tickets for the game. I only tried to buy 1. I went onto the site to see if I could contact him to check whether it was correct and found that his eBay profile had been deleted. So now I was concerned because I thought it could have been sold several times over… the ticket was a PDF, so it could easily have been sold many times. In the end it was all fine though. My ticket was valid and I ended up actually having a spare!

The atmosphere at the ground was great. The barmy army were having a lot of fun in the Hollies stand and there was a lot of cheering for anything… the crowd were really having a great time. A lot of people on the radio have criticised the fans for getting too rowdy. Put it this way, there were no fights and the fans were mixed… Aussies with English and lots of women watching too. The fans were singing and cheering great shots, but also having ironic fun too by cheering then booing the Australians – and winding up the fans in the same area. This is a live sports event and the crowd are just having fun – I can’t understand why anyone would think that watching cricket should be like going to the cinema…

Shame I am going to miss the test match at the Oval… I might get my father a ticket to go just so I can hear about it from him…