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reviews: Russian triple bill a success; ballet RUSSIAN STEPS Birmingham Hippodrome.

Byline: BOB HAYWOOD

RUSSIA has given the world the cream of classical music composers - and ballet dancers.

Birmingham Royal Ballet has brought together three works from the land of mystery and intrigue for this triple bill.

The evening started with and affecting and charming Act III from Raymonda, with music by Alexander Glazunov and choreography by Rudolf Nureyev.

Nao Sakuma, in the title role, and Cesar Morales as her beau Jean de Brienne, were pretty as a picture as were the sumptuous sets and costumes.

The middle offering was Concerto (music Dmitri Shostakovich; choreography Kenneth MacMillan) which is a more stylised short ballet with stark sets to show off the dancers' technical skills.

Things hotted up for the finale - The Firebird (music Igor Stravinsky; choreography Mikhail Fokine) which started slowly but built up to a wonderful climax.

Carol-Anne Millar was superb as the elusive The Firebird, well supported by Matthew Lawrence (the hero Ivan Tsarevich), Laetitia Lo Sardo (his betrothed Tsarevna) and Valentin Olovyannikov (the very scary villain Kostschei).

Short ballets are not to everyone's tastes - only The Firebiord has a recognizable storyline and two long intervals are one too many - but this was a sweet taste of Russia.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 12, 2008
Words:199
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