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Emily Withers (BRB’s Cultural Intern) writes her thoughts about her week’s experiences from the Company’s temporary office in Sadler’s Wells Theatre……
We are now halfway through the penultimate leg of the tour and BRB are currently taking up residence in Sadler’s Wells theatre aka ‘London’s Dance House’. The majority of dancers and several of the company’s staff arrived in the misty, rain-drenched capital on Monday afternoon after a rather warm, sleep-inducing coach journey.
Sadler’s Wells theatre is always looking to commission fresh, innovative work and BRB’s two triple bills (Opposites Attract and Autumn Celebration) certainly fulfil those specifications.
It has been a successful start to the week and on Wednesday evening the curtain went down on the first of our two shows as the final performance of Opposites Attract came to an end. With the opening performance of Autumn Celebration tonight (which I am very privileged to be going to see), I am convinced we will have an equally favourable performances in the next two days, especially after having seen the dress rehearsal!!
This is the week in the tour I have been most looking forward to for two specific reasons. Firstly, I simply love London. I cannot imagine spending a single moment in this city at a loss for what to do, and it is always great to see friends and family and catch the odd show (in between work of course).
Secondly, Sadler’s Wells Theatre share a significant history with BRB in that it housed the Vic-Wells ballet from 1931 to 1940, a company that after going through various changes eventually became the BRB we know and love today. Due to this reason, I was very eager to see the theatre (even after its sixth renovation).
Yesterday I attended a couple of meetings alongside Paul Grace (Technical Director), Peter Teigen (Lighting Design Consultant) and Johnny Westall-Eyre (Head of Lighting); the first of which was at London Coliseum (well more accurately it was conducted in Café Neros, which is rather conveniently positioned next door). The purpose of the meeting was to consolidate the technical schedule for the forthcoming season of David Bintley’s Aladdin, which we are taking to the Coliseum in March next year. (As an aside: I did however get to experience a swift tour of the theatre, which is the largest in the UK and it has arguably the most beautiful auditorium I have ever seen).
We went from there onto the Royal Opera House, who are commissioned by BRB to create the set, costumes and props for Aladdin, along with other upcoming productions.
I was fortunate enough to be able to go behind the scenes and discover the untold delights of their Props workshop room, a treasure trove which Paul Grace has fondly termed ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ for many years, which has now quite literally become the case. Seeing the work for the set that has already been undertaken and pairing that with David Bintley’s choreography I can only imagine the show will be nothing short of spectacular.
I’m heading back to Birmingham tomorrow morning, and I cannot believe how swiftly this week has flown by.
Here’s to the final leg in Cardiff next week!!
Greetings from Plymouth! Allow me to introduce myself: I am Emily Withers and I have been granted the incredible opportunity to work for BRB for the next six months as a cultural intern. It’s only my first week and I’m already on tour!
Regardless of the incessant rain, the Company continues to shine (excuse the cheesiness). For the last two days, the Plymouth audience have been treated to Autumn Celebration; a somewhat humorous, effective and dynamic triple bill, featuring The Grand Tour, Faster and The Dream. I was fortunate enough to see the show on Tuesday evening and would happily watch it countless times as it was fresh, captivating and was naturally danced exquisitely.
The majority of the Company (and myself) travelled down by coach on Monday afternoon for the four hour journey. It was made very pleasant by the collective atmosphere coupled with the much-needed coffee stop halfway through.
The first person who struck up a conversation with me was Celine Gittens, one of the soloist dancers, who I had happened to see perform her debut as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake the previous Friday. I must now take the opportunity to mention that it was a stunning portrayal of the Swan Princess and to encourage you to see it in the next couple of weeks in Sunderland or Cardiff if you can get your hand on a ticket!
I have already been awarded a great insight into life on tour, even though I have only been here for a couple of days. I am currently seated in the Company’s makeshift office in Plymouth’s Theatre Royal, with the Swan Lake score playing gently through the speakers. Given the fact the office is located right across from the stage, dancers will regularly be warming up just outside the door and we are never without frequent visitors. There is also an exercise bike that takes residence in the area and I have encountered the atypical scene of a cycling swan endeavouring to recover from an injury.
I have also witnessed the fall out when a dancer in a lead role becomes ill, along with their cover dancer and the outstanding knock-on effect therefore produced. This exact scenario came to light on Tuesday morning, resulting in the hasty selection of a couple of replacement male dancers. I was amazed to discover that they then proceeded to learn two lead roles that morning and were in dress rehearsal that very afternoon, ready to perform that evening (the performance I went to see). You would not have been able to guess that they had undertaken any fewer rehearsals than the rest of the cast. Everybody was suitably impressed.
I was readily welcomed as the newest member of the team and have been privileged to see firsthand the consistent warmth shown throughout BRB, from the dancers, the staff and those audiences members who continue to be faithful supporters show after show, year after year, who are as much a part of the legacy as those who work for the Company.
In the next three weeks I shall be joining the company for the remainder of the tour, visiting Sunderland, London and Cardiff, before returning home to Birmingham. I am very excited and grateful to be part of the adventure..
Birmingham Royal Ballet will be flying out to Spain next month, to perform as part of The International Festival of Music and Dance in Granada.
Here you can see rehearsal footage and backstage videos for many of the pieces that we will be performing:
Birmingham Royal Ballet are currently overseas, performing a programme of three one-act ballets in Munich. For those of you unable to attend, here are three videos showing rehearsal footage of each of the three pieces being performed!
Tyrone Singleton and Céline Gittens in studio rehearsals for Two Step, part of Take Five. Music by Dave Brubeck, choreography by David Bintley.
Victoria Marr rehearses the role of the Black Queen in Ninette De Valois’ Checkmate. With Jonathan Payn as the Red King. You can see more Checkmate rehearsal videos by clicking here!
Sir Anthony Dowell and Dame Antointee Sibley coach Natasha Oughtred and Joseph Caley in The Dream. Along with extended rehearsal footage, Marion Tait, now Assistant Director, explains the value of first-hand experience in keeping choreography alive.
In two weeks’ time, Birmingham Royal Ballet will be touring to Sunderland and London, with performances of the classical charmer Coppélia.
When the piece was performed in Birmingham in 2011, it became the subject of a collaborative project between 27 different designers, who each created original artwork based upon its plot.
Contributors weren’t required to present Coppélia as a ballet, and many had not previously seen the production.
The results were revealed on 13 June 2011 at http://www.pointeblank.co.uk, where they are still available to view.
Speaking of the collection, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s New Media Officer, Rob Lindsay, said:
‘The response from the contributors was overwhelming, and the volume and diversity of ideas was amazing. It was great to see how everybody brought their own skills and styles to the brief, producing a collection that was better than anyone involved could ever have dared hope for.’
Following last year’s project, a new collection of artwork is also due to be unveiled this evening, this time inspired by Hobson’s Choice. The new pieces will be posted on the project site at www.PointeBlank.co.uk.
Here are two video clips from Beauty and the Beast, choreographed by our own Director David Bintley.
In the first, we see the two title characters meet for the first time, with the Beast’s humanity struggling against his animal instincts.
This second clip comes at the start of Act II, and sees the Beast throwing a lavish ball for Belle. She has been living at his castle for some time now, and is starting to see beyond his terrifying appearance. However she does not share the love that he feels for her, and rushes from the room in tears when he asks for her hand in marriage.
Birmingham Royal Ballet dances Beauty and the Beast at
Hello from Sunderland and the start of the autumn tour! Things here are going very well so far this week – the Technical staff arrived on Monday afternoon to start the get-in and the Company travelled up yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon ready for the first stage rehearsal last night. As this is the first time that we’ve danced Fille on this tour, we’ve had more stage rehearsals here than we would normally have in a touring venue – we had a Piano Rehearsal last night and the General this afternoon. Stage rehearsals have gone well and judging by what I can hear over the tannoy, the first performance is going down a treat with the Sunderland audience! Fille looks and sounds great in this lovely auditorium. It’s quite chilly up here but the theatre is unusually warm and so far the rain hasn’t been to bad – even the pony seems quite at home in his temporary stable on the loading bay! Paul (Grist, Company Manager)
Here you can see more photos taken from the wings during a performance of Coppélia, by photographer Andrew Ross.
Birmingham Royal Ballet performs the ballet 7-9 July at the Grand Canal Theatre Dublin. Click here to book.
Here you can see photos taken from the wings during a performance of Coppélia, by photographer Andrew Ross.
Birmingham Royal Ballet performs the ballet 7-9 July at the Grand Canal Theatre Dublin. Click here to book.
The Japan Times online posted an interview with Miyako Yoshida, who is currently guesting with Birmingham Royal Ballet in Japan.
In the piece, she discusses her history with the Company, who were called the Sadler’s Wells Royal Baller when Miyako first performed with them.
“When I first started at Sadler’s Wells, David [Bintley, now Director of the Company] was still dancing, and he was an amazing performer. To me, until I went to England, ballet was more about dancing and showing technique,” she says. “I realized there, that ballet was not all about pirouettes or turning or jumping. It is also about telling a story, and David’s acting was always amazing.”
“I am really happy to be working with them again,” she says of the upcoming BRB tour, “I’m honored they offered me this chance.”