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..