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LONDON FOR FREE! – The Birmingham Royal Ballet’s ‘Sylvia’ at the London Coliseum


The Birmingham Royal Ballet’s ‘Sylvia’ at the London Coliseum

Even the pricey attractions in London, where – unless you pull proper blagging techniques, such as you’re press or you’re planning to organise a corporate event and therefore need to check out that venue / menu / facilities / amenities / amusement / entertainment / location / reputation – you’d have to fork out quite a fortune, can be free: Simply try your luck and enter competitions.

This might sound too much like a game of luck, but if you know the right channels, you’re in for a good chance to get your free tickets to a fantastic London show:

Visit London ( always runs great competitions. If you’re organised enough to enter them on a regular basis, you’ll end up a winner eventually.

Evening Standard ( often has free tickets up for grabs. Make sure you enter your details early and you might end up very busy with all those free shows to attend to.

I snatched up a pair of tickets for ‘Sylvia’ a ballet show by the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the London Coliseum. The tickets were in the dress circle with a very good view of the stage.

What I love about ballet is how feelings and motivations are conveyed through dance. No words, no song, no other means of communication but the movement of the body.

This ballet performance certainly did the trick as I soon found myself moving along the dance sensations in my seat. I hope my neighbours didn’t mind.

There was a continuous build up over the three acts, which kept everybody glued to their chair, captured by the tension of the incredible choreography.

Luckily it was broken up by the hilarious act of two funny characters, who took on the part to bring some satire into the play.

The storyline gets across effortlessly, so that all that is left to do is to enjoy the dance.

Eros, who puts the Countess and her unfaithful husband together with two of their servants through a spin of reality by teaching them a metaphoric lesson about love, takes up the role of narrator and director of events. He is aware of the audience and communications directly with them through gestures.

The Countess, when finding her husband making advances to their Governess, turns into huntress Diana, who takes out her rage on her Governess’ lover by blinding him.

The Count’s pursuit of the Governess turns him into a barbaric and wild Orion, who kidnaps his object of desire and forces himself onto her.

The Governess stays in her subordinate class by becoming a follower to Diana. Only in the fantasy world does she realise her love for the Count’s valet.

The Count’s Valet is blinded and thus literally unaware and helpless about his loved one having to fend off a womaniser.

Where the first act shows the beauty of the nymphs in a chaste and delicate dance, the second act is dominated by the raw and vigorous duet of Orion and Sylvia, a power struggle which she eventually wins through cleverness.

The third act combines it all with the tenderness of blossoming love between Sylvia and Amynta and the jubilant exultance of them giving in to their love. Jumps and spins and lifts that leave you breathless. Floating movements that seem to defy gravity.
But also the funny elements of this ballet don’t fail to impress. During the wine making scene in Orion’s cave, the creativity of the choreographer becomes apparent. The pirate scene stands out as Eros is finally getting his chance to impress by dance – on only one leg. His costume is astonishing, as he is walking on a wooden stump. While you’re still wondering where his leg disappeared to, he already blows your mind with spins, whirling across the stage.

Not to forget is the lighting factor in this show: The dark glossy floor brings a gloomy outlook onto the dancers with only faint illumination highlighting their performance. A waterfall seems to be flowing, the sea seems to be glistening, water is spraying, mist is creeping in.

To round this up, the costumes reflect the characters in figure hugging ways that accentuate the strength and leanness of the dancer’s bodies.

The finale came in form of a horse statue onto the stage: Diana, outraged and furious, set out with her entourage to kill Amynta. Shields are gleaming, lances are wielded.

Out of nowhere appeared Eros leaning against the horse to make things right again. Diana wakes up from her rage, Orion becomes humble and apologises to his wife, the Governess can openly state her love for the Count’s Valet.

An appropriate happy ending that resulted in resounding applause, appreciative bravos and cheers and encouraging whistles.

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