What do you trade for home? Birmingham Royal Ballet’s new piece choreographed by Miguel Altunaga. City of a Thousand Trades is a love letter to the city of Birmingham. It’s a moving piece of ballet about the people of the city and what they had to trade for their new life.
As part of Carlos Acosta’s new season at the Birmingham Rep and streamed online with Birmingham International Dance Festival, it’s a punchy piece of dance that combines movement, spoken word and percussion to tell a story.
All about the people that have built the city, it opens with the noises of building works as wooden boxes and steel poles are manoeuvred across the stage. The clever score by Mathias Coppens uses percussion to elevate the city soundscape whilst intertwining it with iconic Birmingham sounds. Instruments such as the electric guitar emulate the origin of heavy metal in the city.
What really drives this piece is the narrative. Dramaturg and co-director Madeleine Kludje has enabled the dancers to draw upon their own experiences to bring the passion and emotion to the piece. With poetic narration from Birmingham Poet Laureate Casey Bailey and testimonies from people in Birmingham, the performance comes alive.
It’s compelling to watch Birmingham Royal Ballet bring a different style of dance to the stage in a piece that is packed with power. Laced with real life stories from people across the city, their movement is charged with authenticity. Despite being an ensemble piece, stand-out dancers include Brandon Lawrence, Tyrone Singleton and guest dancer Hannah Rudd.
Entrancing choreography and magnificent storytelling bring this new ballet to life – showcasing Birmingham for the beautiful melting pot of cultures it is.