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I write this from my own bedroom in Birmingham having arrived back from Dublin safe and sound this afternoon. Officially I am no longer a member of Birmingham Royal Ballet and whilst the thought saddens me I am excited by the prospect of what’s to come. I also know I have the full support of everyone here and I can’t express how encouraging and pleasing it is to know that.

The last couple of days were extremely eventful! Amongst the shows we had a couple of company parties and plenty to talk about what with people leaving and people being promoted! I don’t want to spill the beans before everything is made official but I would like to congratulate all those who have been promoted and to wish the best of luck to all who are moving on. Exciting times!

Friday night’s performance was a very special one for me, performing the role of Franz alongside my lovely colleague and friend, Natasha Oughtred. I had a wonderful time onstage with everyone and especially with Tash who I have enjoyed working with so much during my time here. The audience were very welcoming and warm which made for a very nice atmosphere.

The company party, also on Friday night, was a huge success. Thanks to all involved with organisation. We had the pleasure of a live Irish band performing for us and they were absolutely fantastic! You couldn’t help but stamp along to the music and eventually everyone was up dancing and having a great time. My favourite moment was the dance off between Oliver Till and Chris Peterson…Irish Style. Brilliant. Which reminds me, the accordian playing female member of the band would get down from stage every now and again and show off her awesome Irish dancing skills! We were all massively impressed and entertained.

The final two shows on Saturday marked the end of a very long yet successful season and I’m pleased to say the shows went well. I marked my final performance as member of Birmingham Royal Ballet with an unscheduled performance as the female Flower Seller in Act I. Fully equipped with fake breasts and bonnet, I waltzed my way across stage trying not to draw too much attention to myself … apparently, despite my best make up efforts, it is very difficult to disguise the five o’clock shadow and manly jaw even with a bonnet! It was great fun seeing the other company members suprised faces when they clocked who I was! I also performed the role of Lead Combat that evening and it was nice to be involved in the final curtain call of a very special season.

It is with mixed emotions that I wind this up. I am sad that my time here has come to end but also tremendously excited about what the future holds. I would like to offer my thanks to Rob Lindsay for asking me to provide this blog, I have enjoyed it immensely, and also to all at Birmingham Royal Ballet for giving me an exceptionally fulfilling and happy six years.

Finally, to the wonderful supporters of Birmingham Royal Ballet, a big, huge thank you.

Alexander Campbell

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The Maldron Hotel on Cardiff Lane couldn’t be located much closer to the Grand Canal Theatre, five minutes to walk door to door would be far too generous. This suits me (and I suspect most of the company) just fine, and I’m pleased to report that the rooms are perfectly comfortable.

The Grand Canal Theatre seems to be very new and is extremely well put together. The backstage areas are clean and airy and the dressing rooms are very nice. I am happy to be sharing my final few days on tour with Joseph Caley as my dressing room buddy, this despite him addressing me only by my new nickname (thought up by Joe himself) ‘Traitor’. This is all in good jest and is in keeping with our normal relationship of friendly banter. I will surely miss it.

The Grand Canal Theatre auditorium is big without being daunting. Having sat through the orchestra rehearsal this afternoon I enjoyed the acoustics and the comfortable chairs.

Another bonus point for the theatre is the Fresh Good Food Market near the front of house. A fair few company members discovered this shop and everyone enjoyed having access to good simple fresh food. I’m fairly certain I will stop by there again tomorrow.

I’m afraid I will have to stop there as Mock the Week has just started on BBC2. A favourite of mine.

Enjoying Dublin and looking forward to the performance with Natasha tomorrow,

Alexander Campbell

Alexander dances the role of Franz in Coppélia tonight at the Grand Canal Theatre. Click here to book your tickets.

The final week of the season finds us travelling to Dublin for four performances of Coppélia. For all, the prospect of a summer holiday looms large but for me personally this week represents my final days as member of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

I have been asked to keep this blog and try and capture a little bit of what touring is like and what we get up to. I look forward to what should be an entertaining week!

Ireland, and Dublin in particular, has greeted us with dark clouds and heavy rain. Apparently our newest member, Maureya Lebowitz, commented with the line: ‘I heard all about the summers over here and how they don’t really exist but I didn’t realise it was actually true! They really don’t!’ or something to that effect. My fingers are crossed that the weather will pick up over the next few days.

Finally, I would like to add that I will be typing and sending all of this blog on an iPhone. I’m not trying to impress you or to convince you to purchase one. Rather, I am telling you to let you know of the risk I am taking and the perils I face by doing this. Autocorrect is a very clever feature on the iPhone and usually it makes life a lot easier when using the ultra sensitive touch screen. However, from time to time the feature can prove to be a pain in the backside, especially when you’re not vigilant.

The hope is that – if you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to the autocorrect – you at least only end up making no sense whatsoever, as opposed to propositioning your grandmother or offending your driving instructor. For this reason I shall check and double check my entries.

As I send this I am pleased to report that the rain has ceased and the sun is breaking through the clouds.

Until tomorrow,

Alexander Campbell

In addition to the Coppélia photos taken from the wings that we posted here on the tour blog last week, we posted an extra over the weekend via our twitter feed. You can see the shot below, and click here to follow us on twitter.

Birmingham Royal Ballet performs the ballet 7-9 July 2011 at the Grand Canal Theatre Dublin. Click here to book.

In the ballet of the same name, Coppélia is a doll created by toymaker Dr Coppélius, and one which he tries to bring to life by stealing the spirit of one of the young men from the local village.

You can find out more about the doll (and the spirit stealing) in our tongue-in-cheek workshop manual! Click the image below to take a look:

If you’ve never heard the story of Coppélia before, we’ve there’s an illustrated storyguide in the children’s section of the Birmingham Royal Ballet website!

Click the image below to take a look:

Here are two pictures of Swanilda pretending to be Dr Coppélius’ mechanical doll, Coppélia. We’ve made five differences to the image on the right – can you spot them all?

Birmingham Royal Ballet performs the ballet 7-9 July 2011 at the Grand Canal Theatre Dublin. Click here to book.

Madeleine Keane joined us during our recent performances of Coppélia in Salford, and wrote up her experiences behind-the-scenes for Independent.ie.

Here’s the first half of the piece, click the link at the bottom to read the full article:

A moribund blonde sits in her pale blue frock, head listing to one side, a stiff, painted mannequin. Then the music of Leo Delibes and the machinations of Doctor Coppelius ignite life in this beautiful doll and so the magic that is the ballet of Coppélia begins.

Happily for devotees of this dance form, Coppélia is coming to Dublin next month. It will be performed by the renowned Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Grand Canal Theatre. One of the world’s leading ballet companies, it has its roots in Ireland as it originated from the Sadler’s Wells Ballet which was founded by Irish-born dancer Dame Ninette de Valois.

Today this international company is based at the Birmingham Hippodrome and tours extensively. Recently, the company completed a three-week tour of Japan; David Bintley is artistic director of both Birmingham and the National Ballet of Japan. When we meet, he is playing Sudoku. “It’s a feast or a famine,” he laughs, but one suspects that it’s mostly a feast for this Yorkshire-born dancer and choreographer who was stage-struck at the age of four. He worked under the great Sir Peter Wright, Birmingham’s Director Laureate who choreographed this production of Coppélia. Bintley is passionate about his country’s fine tradition, believing that British ballet “leads the world in narrative dance and production values”.

Watching the matinee later at Manchester’s impressive Lowry Centre, it’s hard to disagree with him. This Coppélia is a joy — funny, moving, exquisitely executed and a visual feast. We have already been backstage where Johnny Westall-Eyre, head of lighting has explained that though his job is technical , “lighting is all about creative input and making a set become a show”. And he’s just one of the team we meet who conspire to create a sumptuous, enchanting performance.

Spending a day with this company is a delight. The cliche of one big happy family is true — they really are a close, friendly hard-working team committed to their art. And the ballet dancers are about as far removed from the neurotic narcissists portrayed in Black Swan as you can imagine.

Click here to read the full article.

Back in April, we asked 27 artists and designers to create original artwork based around the ballet Coppélia, which Birmingham Royal Ballet dances at the Grand Canal Theatre next week.

None of the participants were required to present the story as a ballet, and many hadn’t seen it anyway.

You can see twelve of the pieces in the slideshow below; Visit www.pointeblank.co.uk to see the full collection.

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The Public Reviews allows audiences to post their own critiques of what they see – there are details on the site explaining how you can write for them.

When we performed Coppélia in Salford last month, Peter Jacobs penned a review for the site, and had many kind words for us.

You can read the full review here, but here’s a couple of excerpts:

‘Coppélia is the sort of ballet that BRB do exceptionally well, with their large and talented company of dancers and wealth of character performers. This lavish production features three exquisite and substantial sets by Peter Farmer, who also designed the many beautiful costumes that bring movement and character and place (Middle Europe) so vividly to life.

‘It’s the kind of show that makes you really value the Birmingham Royal Ballet for doing traditional work in such a fresh and entertaining way and reminds you why classical ballet is so enduring. It may be old but it’s certainly not dusty.’

Click here to book for our final performances of Coppélia at the Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin.