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Tickets to see Birmingham Royal Ballet dance Swan Lake at The Lowry, Salford, this autumn have gone on sale today.
This evening also sees the Company open a week of performances of Beauty and the Beast at the same venue.
These performances of Swan Lake will be the first of the 2012-13 season, which begins and ends as the academic calendar. The shows will precede even the Company’s first dates at home venue Birmingham Hippodrome.
You can see a rehearsal clip from Swan Lake, featuring Birmingham Royal Ballet Principals Gaylene Cummerfield and Matthew Lawrence, below.
Birmingham Royal Ballet dance Beauty and the Beast, at The Lowry, Salford, until the end of this week. The production is choreographed by the Company’s own Director, David Bintley. Click here to book tickets now.
With Beauty and the Beast touring to the Lowry, Salford in January 2012, following a week of performances at Birmingham Hippodrome, we’ve uncovered this interview with Choreographer David Bintley, originally published during the piece’s second season of performances in 2005.
When interviewed previously about Beauty and the Beast, creator of the piece and Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, David Bintley, has spoken a great deal about the story’s theme of how we see animals. ‘We have a funny way of viewing things,’ he says. While we pride ourselves on being a nation of animal lovers, David explained at the time of the ballet’s premiere, we use the term ‘beastly’ to describe someone who behaves with cruelty or arrogance – traits which are fairly unique to humans.
While it is a concept which he obviously enjoyed examining in the ballet, it is not what originally drew him to the work. ‘A good subject for a ballet has got to have both strong characters and strong events,’ he says. ‘The events are what keep things motoring along, and shape the characters, but you couldn’t do a ballet based purely on an event. Take the American civil war – that’s one hell of an event, but you couldn’t put that in a ballet!’
In Beauty and the Beast, the young girl Belle is sent to live with the terrifying Beast in penance for her father’s theft of a rose from the animal’s garden. Dragged from her home and denied access to her family, she is forced to grow up sharply, and confront the terrifying Beast on her own. Over time, she comes to see past his unfamiliar appearance, and is able to love him for the person he is underneath. By the end of the ballet she is a drastically different character from the one she was at the beginning.
Likewise, the Beast begins life as a handsome prince, but one who exhibits the cruelty and arrogance that David highlights as being particularly human faults. Transformed magically into a hideous beast as punishment for his sins, he must alter his character if he is to earn the true love that will break the spell.
The strength and contrast of these character arcs was attractive to David. ‘That’s very much what I look for in a subject for narrative dance,’ he says, ‘because I believe I have to have that outline, that choreographic feeling for the characters, the story and the period.’
Every element must be able to be conveyed in dance, otherwise the piece won’t work. And most importantly, the characters, like Belle and the Beast, must be figures that can be expressed through choreography.
‘Lots of people think that if you just take another great classic novel, it’ll work as a ballet,’ says David, ‘but no, it won’t necessarily. There are so many great stories out there and you could say “why don’t you do that one?” It’s because I have no feeling for it, no empathy. I don’t feel it, and those characters don’t say “movement”.’
Beauty and the Beast however, has proved a rich topic for a narrative work, with the ballet being one of David’s most successful pieces. ‘I knew that Beauty and the Beast would sell because it’s a known title and known titles always sell,’ he says, ‘but that’s not why I made it. I made the ballet because I was absolutely obsessed by it, and had been for 30 years.’
That people are likely to come and see a ballet based upon a familiar story does not guarantee its longevity, however. But with the ballet returning to tour major theatres around the UK, audiences have obviously enjoyed the sight of this Beast.
Birmingham Royal Ballet will perform David Bintley’s production of Beauty and the Beast at the Lowry, Salford, 24 – 28 January 2012.
A cruel Prince, cursed to spend the rest of his life living in a fantastical castle with the animals he callously hunted, finds salvation in the heart of a beautiful girl. Caught stealing a single rose, Belle’s desperate father exchanges his life for his youngest daughter’s freedom. In his distant castle the Beast, stripped of his handsome features and his very humanity, must win her heart, or spend the rest of his life in bitter solitude.
The ballet was last performed at the venue in January 2004. These will be the only UK tour dates for the production in the 2011-12 season.
You can watch an excerpt from the ballet here:
In the new video below, Company dancers Kristen McGarrity and Steven Monteith introduce some of the costumes from the ballet, including a number that they themselves have performed in.
Bonus: Here you can see the outtakes from our Coppélia costume video shoot!
Hello from a very chilly Salford where the Cinderella tour opened last night to a wonderful audience response! The Technical Department have risen fantastically to the challenge of presenting Cinderella on tour and the show looks absolutely fantastic. We’re playing to packed houses this week and our Plymouth performances next week promise to be the same.
The Royal Opera House exhibition ‘Invitation to the Ballet’ which charts the life and work of Ninette de Valois and the history of the Royal Ballet companies is running in the Lowry Galleries at the moment. Lots of the Company have already made it up to see the exhibition and the feedback has been incredibly positive – I’m hoping to get up there tomorrow afternoon to have a look around, although from what everyone is saying I think I’ll need to allow plenty of time to see everything!
The Company then performs the piece in other venues in the autumn. Visit www.brb.org.uk/romeo for details.
Birmingham Royal Ballet tours Kenneth MacMillan’s romantic classical masterpiece Romeo and Juliet throughout 2010. The Company performs in Birmingham, Sunderland, London and Plymouth this autumn, however audiences in Salford and Cardiff will get the chance to see it before the summer break – nearly three months ahead of everybody else!
Tickets for the shows, at the Lowry and the Wales Millennium Centre, are already on sale, with booking details available via the links below. With a sweeping score by Sergei Prokofiev and soaring choreography from master of modern ballet, Kenneth MacMillan, Romeo and Juliet continues to be the all-time classic love story. These performances bring a close Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 2009-10 season.
Click the venue names for details: