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The Pony in our current performances of La Fille mal gardée is indeed Peregrine, the same pony used by the Royal Ballet for their production. Claire Lishman, our Media and PR Officer, met Peregrine last week in London and writes:
‘I met Peregrine for the first time this week and instantly fell in love with him. His fringe is brilliant – I’m sure it shields him from all the drama that’s part and parcel of working in the theatre, and of course everybody’s lining up to give him some fuss and attention.
He comes from a proud line of performing ponies – his predecessor was called Lise, named after the lead character in La Fille mal gardé. Even though Shetland Ponies are famed for being small, I couldn’t believe just how small he is – I’m having to crouch down in the photo above just to get us both in shot. His small stature not only makes him extra cute, but means that on the rare ocassions when the dancer leading him onto the stage has found his foot caught beneath a hoof, they tend to escape without any serious injury!
When not performing, Peregrine is taken for walks outside (he is always looking for some grass… not an easy task in some cities we visit!), and he has his own area backstage to rest in, where he has his hay and treats. Because he’s so tiny and docile, he generally doesn’t need much space and as long as he’s kept well fed he’s happy. A number of people in London and Sunderland spotted him out and about around the theatre, so if you’re in Plymouth this week keep an eye out too!
You can also find out more about Peregrine over on the Theatre Royal Plymouth’s backstage blog!
Amy Dolan is covering for Company Manager Paul Grist during our performances at Theatre Royal Plymouth this week. She has kindly taken time out to send us an update from the venue:
Hello from Plymouth!
Since Paul’s last post the company spent a week in London at Sadler’s Wells performing the same programme as we are doing here in Plymouth at the Theatre Royal: half a week of Autumn Glory (Checkmate, Symphonic Variations and Pineapple Poll) and the other half performing La Fille Mal Gardée.
The technical staff arrived in advance of the Company early Monday and the Company travelled up from BRB HQ on Monday afternoon on a coach (this is new for this season… all the dancers are travelling to and from the venue by company coach rather than my trains and cars).
On Tuesday we had the usual piano rehearsal and opening night performance in Plymouth of Autumn Glory. The performance went down very well with the Plymouth audience and was great to see the regulars in! After the performance thanks to the lovely people at the Theatre Royal and TRAC we had drinks in the bar for the dancers and technical team.
Yesterday we had two performances and again all went well without too many hiccups! It was also our last performance of Autumn Glory for the autumn season.
Last night we had our technical change over to La Fille Mal Gardée and at the time of writing the dancers (and the pony!) are currently in a piano rehearsal on stage rehearsing ready for tonight’s sold out performance.
We have four more performances left now on the Autumn tour and then back to Birmingham to start Nutcracker season which opens in three weeks time. Preparations for this still continue whilst on tour so time between performances and early mornings are made up of lots of Nutcracker meeting and meetings about the O2.
This is my first time in Plymouth and I am staying in the West Hoe area so I have a lovely walk to the theatre everyday over the hoe. I’ve had chance to go to the Barbican quickly but other than that not had much time for sight-seeing, hopefully I will squeeze some in before heading back up north!
Sadly Saturday will see the last performance of Robert Gravenor (First Artist) with Birmingham Royal Ballet and we all wish him the very best for the future.
In the clip above, you can see David Morse performing the role of the Widow Simone in La Fille mal gardée, dancing the complicated clog dance! It’s a challenging piece of choreography that requires the dancer to tap out frenzied staccato rhythms in time with the music.
In the clip below you can see the solo being rehearsed in the studio by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Rory Mackay. The footage was recorded during the first week back after the summer break, and stripped of the costume and the other dancing girls, shows off the complexity of the solo all the more.
Birmingham Royal Ballet dances La Fille mal gardée in London tonight until Saturday night, and in Plymouth next Thursday to Saturday.
We’ve posted a gallery of images from La Fille mal gardée on the Company Facebook page. Members of the network can click here to take a look and here’s a sample in the meantime!