SENSE OF TIME Brandon Lawrence; photo by Bill Cooper

Sense of Time by Didy Veldmann at Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Hippodrome Birmingham

Sense of Time is the latest commission from Ballet Now, an initiative instigated by Director David Bintley to promote new talent in choreography, giving promising choreographers the chance to work with and present their work on an established ballet company of note.

This is the fourth piece Birmingham Royal Ballet have presented, giving the largely classically dancers a much appreciated chance to work in the here and now. Veldman’s challenge for them to explore her idiosyncratic contemporary style in ways that many must find refreshing has paid off, and all credit must go to her to have achieved the results in movement and power that she has with her excellent cast.

Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet; photo by Bill Cooper

The piece explores our relationship with time today, do we take time to listen? To interact? Are we always pressurized? It Is atmospherically lit with the dancers almost exuding a luminosity against the greys of an enormous wall made of suitcases, which moves and revolves with the action rather like the ticking hands of a giant clock. Veldman’s use of varied tempi for movement, juxtaposed one against another gives an absolute sense of time itself, and clever use of props and the ever-present wall enhance this aura. I especially liked the pas de deux with Delia Matthews locked onto her mobile phone screen, completely ignoring her partner’s efforts for attention – as if any of us ever succumbs to that …..

Céline Gittens and Brandon Lawrence; photo by Bill Cooper

Brandon Lawrence and Celine Gittens had a contrasting pas de deux demonstrating the fulfilment and passion of two people willing to spend time together. The ensemble work surged with urgency and coherence.

Gabriel Prokofiev’s score was a triumph, and eclectic mix of orchestra and dense textural sounds which was both rhythmic and portentous. The whole piece commanded attention from beginning to end, an excellent addition to the company’s repertoire.

Viki Westalll-Eyre