Ben Roomes and Shaun Mclaughlin, Graduate Students of Elmhurst School for Dance, have sent an update on their experiences on the Japan tour:

Tuesday 17 May
Now having been in Tokyo a few days, today was the day of the Company’s Gala performance where the company performed Daphnis and Chloë and The Dream (starring Miyako Yoshida), both ballets choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton. The show was received very well by the audience who contributed very generously to the donation boxes and bid for a tutu once used in the Company’s performances. Miyako was wonderful to watch as Titania and César Morales and Alexander Campbell were brilliant as Oberon and Puck. Jamie Bond and Natasha Oughtred also did a fantastic job of Daphnis and Chloë.
Before the tour the staff and students of Elmhurst worked together to make 1000 origami cranes as a token of support and appreciation for Japan through the difficult times. Presenting 1000 origami cranes is a symbol of world peace and according to ancient legend grants the bearer a wish. At the end of the night, we handed them over on stage on behalf of our school. It was wonderful to present this to the Japanese and it was a very heartfelt moment amongst us all.

Wed 18th May
Today was the company’s free day however as students we still have our upcoming school summer show approaching! Marion was kind enough to rehearse the ones of us on tour so that during the two weeks we are spending here we don’t get rusty on what we need to know! We took class in the Tokyo Ballet Studios with Tokyo Ballet which was a very enjoyable class partly because the studio we were in was HUGE, which left lots of space for travelling and jumping! Once class was over we had some time before our rehearsal and we were fortunate enough to be able to watch the rehearsal beforehand with Tamara Rojo and Ian Mackay for the upcoming Sleeping Beauty show in the Bunka Kaikan. I think we can definitely say that we’re looking forward to seeing the two of them on stage.
We have had a few chances to explore Tokyo on previous days however as there haven’t been any more rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty yet, visiting places such as Shibuya and Harajuku. In Shibuya we came across a Chacott dance shop and were pleasantly surprised to find out we could get a 20% discount because we were on tour with Birmingham Royal Ballet! We also used the opportunity exploring to get presents for people back home… and a few sneaky things for ourselves too!

Thursday 19th May
We checked out of our hotel in Tokyo this morning to make our way to Nagoya for one quick show of Sleeping Beauty. We got to travel by bullet train which was fantastic however we had to shift ourselves because no matter what, it will always be on time! They only leave 60 seconds with the doors open so if you’re not on or off once they close then you’ve had it! Once you’re on however, it’s very comfy and there’s so much space, it makes a very nice change to Virgin trains!!!

Once we arrived in Nagoya we quickly checked in to our new hotel then made our way to the Aichi Performing Arts Centre. We had class and then did our show in the evening. After the performance we promptly made our way back to the hotel ready to leave again in the morning to travel back to Tokyo.

Saturday 20th May
Yesterday was the first day at the Bunka Kaikan for our next three performances of Sleeping Beauty, two of which with Tamara Rojo. We had a rehearsal to get used to the stage. The walls of the theatre are full of history as certain sections and pillars in the backstage are covered with markings of when previous companies had performed in the theatre and at the side of the wings there is a giant collection of signed posters and t-shirts hailing from such companies as the Mariinsky Theatre Ballet, La Scala and ABT (to name a few!). There were two BRB posters there as well from the tours in 1995 and 2008.

Today’s matinee was one of the Ian and Tamara shows, and it was absolutely fantastic! The applause from the audience was tremendous and several of us couldn’t help but grin at the noise as we stood at the sides as court ladies and gents.

We only have a few days left in Japan, but our time here has been absolutely fantastic! We’ve seen so many new things and have been to lots of new places. This is definitely a trip to remember and it would be amazing to come back again. Now back to school!

Ben Roomes and Shaun Mclaughlin.

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