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Greetings from the Granada Company Office (or, as you’ll see from the photo, the Despacho companias!) – it’s currently 2302 on Wednesday evening and as I type, the Coppélia stage rehearsal is well underway and the Company are busy rehearsing Act I.
The first Company members flew over on Sunday (John Beadle [Orchestra Director] and Paul Murphy [Conductor] for orchestra rehearsals) with advance management and technical groups following on Sunday and Monday; I flew over with the dancers and ballet staff on Tuesday afternoon and after a good flight (with some interesting sights on the way – Malaga is a popular ‘party holiday’ destination!) we were brought from Malaga up to Granada by coach – a wonderfully cool journey (thanks to great on-board aircon!) through southern Spain.
We’re staying at the Hotel Alixares which is quite literally next door to the entrance to the Alhambra. Our ‘commute’ to work takes approximately four minutes and as well as a great pool, the hotel has a couple of bars and restaurants, including a lovely terrace bar which is open until 2.30am; perfect timing given that the climate has prescribed an unusual schedule for the tour!
The combination of an open-air venue and the daytime heat means that shows start at 2230; we can’t do anything on stage during the day – it’s simply too hot! We even have to take up our rolls of dance floor each day (and can’t re-lay them before 1900 each evening) to stop them from melting in the sunshine! This evening’s class was at 1930 and I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen the Company wearing sunglasses for barre – keeping the sunglasses on became quite a challenge when it got to centre!
The theatre is absolutely idyllic – nestling in the gardens of the Alhambra at the top of a hill with stunning views down over Granada; the wings and backdrop are trees – perfect for the repertoire (the LX department have promised that the trees will be lit in blue to represent the sea for Grand Tour!). After long lay-ins following the late night (or early morning finishes), afternoons are spent exploring Granada or enjoying the sunshine by the pool – I had a trip into Granada today; I think a swim will definitely be in order tomorrow.
It may sound like a holiday, but there’s still plenty to be done – the stage and lighting departments were busy all night last night (only stopping when sunrise interrupted the lighting session) and an outdoor venue presents an array of unique challenges – the wind had blown a large number of the coloured gels out of the lighting rig during the day, so these all had to be replaced before this evening’s rehearsal. However, everyone seems to be very much enjoying the unusual location and we’re all very excited about playing to two packed houses.
We’re all trying not to get too used to the sunshine – it sounds as though we’ll definitely need our umbrellas at the ready once we’re back in the UK!
Chris Peterson, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Assistant Stage Manager, writes from Granada, where the Company are performing this week. With the Spanish heat, the performance is taking place at 10.30pm, and the three hour difference in start times is having some curious knock-on effects to the rest of the working day…
Last night we started early evening. The stage staff finished building the Coppélia set, and when it got dark, the lighting team started focussing the rig. After a BBQ dinner at 1:30am, focussing continued, and then a light session under the stars and a beautiful full moon until the sun came up.
Back to the hotel for a nightcap of scrambled eggs and sausages before bed. It’s now half past 3 in the afternoon and [Lighting Technician] Andy Russell and I are catching up on a bit more sleep and catching some rays by the pool before we start work again this evening.
The stage crew are in at 6:30pm to lay the lino for class as it can’t be left out all day as it will melt or warp in the sun. Class is 7.30pm til 8.30pm then there’s a Copppélia rehearsal 9pm until half past midnight! Then might have to do some more lighting afterwards. Hopefully done by 2am tonight fingers crossed.
The performance tomorrow starts at about 10.30pm. That’s then followed by a changeover to our triple bill [Take Five, The Grand Tour and The Dream] which includes a full refocus and more lighting, so that will be another 7am finish x
A number of the dancers have been excitedly tweeting about next week’s trip to Granada. Here’s a selection of their tweets and pictures!