Emily Withers is a cultural intern working with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and has currently written blog posts for us from Plymouth and London. Here she writes from The Lowry, Salford, during the week of the Company’s first touring performances of Aladdin:
The sun is shining gloriously upon Salford, and given its location overlooking the waterfront, the glittering water has truly become a feast for the eyes.
For the tour back in the autumn, the internship began the week after the company had been to Salford, so I’m glad I’ve been granted the opportunity to visit Greater Manchester before it finishes!
I’m currently in the ‘Company office’: a dressing room equipped with a fully working fridge, a fan and a monitor displaying the various ongoing activities on the stage; at the moment the dancers are taking their daily morning class on the stage, but at other times there are rehearsals, stage and lighting work going on, as well as the performances themselves.
The Lowry has two theatres: the Quays and the Lyric, and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin is being performed in the Lyric, the larger of the two. Its neighbouring attractions include MediaCity and the Imperial War Museum North, although I highly doubt I’ll have ample time to visit such places!
It’s great being out on tour again, and considering that this is how I began the internship there is a certain symmetry that makes it easier to see how much I’ve settled in during the six months, the skills I’ve learnt and all that I’ve discovered whilst working for a ballet company. There is now a familiarity with staff and a confidence in my responsibilities that allow a different kind of ease and enjoyment each day.
The project I’m currently working on is the compilation of the blue book for the Company’s upcoming trip to Virginia in April, whilst continuing to do ongoing daily tasks required for the current tour, such as updating the cast sheets ready for publication, managing general enquiries, and just absorbing the feel and workings of a new theatre!
This afternoon I will be covering the show, which involves being present in the foyer before the start of each act, for each curtain-up in case anything goes wrong, and also be responsible for ticket allocation for the ballet staff.
This evening I’m watching the ballet. It’s been great having the opportunity to watch a performance in every theatre we’ve visited. I like the idea of ticking each one off a list. Each time I watch one of the ballets it’s an alternate cast, which makes a surprising difference and adds a real freshness, especially the more I’ve gotten to recognise individual dancers simply by the way they dance, and the signature they create. My eyesight isn’t the best, so to simply be able to recognise dancers through their movements is a rather helpful practice.
I’m heading back to Birmingham tomorrow, so the trip has felt surprisingly short, but very pleasant nonetheless. The initial friendliness and warmth I was shown by the dancers and staff when I first started has only grown as time has gone by and I can now honestly say that I very much feel part of the company now, and have been fortunate enough to work with many wonderful people.
The Aladdin score by Carl Davis is often playing in the background in the office, a gentle reminder of why we’re in Salford. I trust that the show will be received well and that it will be a mighty success!
Here’s to Plymouth next week…