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Birmingham Royal Ballet performs a programme of three works in the North/East of England this summer. You can read introductory notes on the three ballets here:

Birmingham Royal Ballet this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, having moved to the Midlands from London in 1990. Before then, the Company was known as Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet. When SWRB came to celebrate their own 40th anniversary in 1987, among the highlights was Allegri diversi, a new piece by David Bintley, who would go on to become Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet some years later.

In programme notes from the very first of these regional tours in 2002, John Percival noted of the score to the non-narrative piece that ‘The two Rossini pieces which Bintley used were never meant by their composer for dancing, but their rich melodies, pace and orchestral colour make them enchantingly suitable.’ Percival also noted that: ‘Today’s cast do not have the advantage of the original ensemble, who had the roles made specifically for their talents, but they are going into a joyous work, full of happy invention, and it will be surprising if they do not respond accordingly.’

The second ballet being performed on the North East tour does indeed see the original cast performing the roles, having been created on Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2008. Entitled The Centre and its Opposite, and choreographed by Australian Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Garry Stewart, it is perhaps the most challenging.

Taking energy from its score, the piece attempts to invert the focal point of the performance space: rather than the artists taking turns to come forward and dance for the audience, they are simultaneously pitted against one another, vying for attention from different parts of the stage.

David Bintley recently described Stewart’s piece as being ‘probably the most extreme piece that we have ever done’. However he also points out that it was influenced by the Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers on whom it was created, and so like the other pieces in the programme it still has its roots in classical ballet. The score however is very much of a contemporary nature, its thrilling industrial edge having wowed audiences on last year’s tour of the South West and as part of the Company’s autumn programme Quantum Leaps.

You can see a video interview with choreographer Garry Stewart, recorded when he was first creating the piece in 2009, here:

Grosse Fuge, meanwhile, has not been performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet for over a decade. Choreographed by Hans van Manen, who also created Twilight, the battle-of-the-sexes highlight from 2008’s tour of the North East, the piece presents a more delicate and sensual interplay between four couples.

Van Manen also created starkly effective costume designs for the piece, which see the men stripped to the waist with belted black trouser skirts that swirl and swish to highlight the aggression of their steps, while the women’s vulnerability is brought out in simple flesh-coloured leotards set off by hair pinned elaborately in a tiara motif.

Over the three pieces in this bill, Birmingham Royal Ballet offers a taste of what makes the Company so strong at the moment, as well as a unique chance to see ballet that you will not see anywhere else. As Director David Bintley recently commented: ‘What have we won awards for? Not the full-length story ballets that everybody does, but the shorter, more adventurous works, that’s where the critical acclaim comes.’

Make sure you don’t miss this opportunity to share in what all the fuss is about.

At the time of publication, tickets are not yet on sale. However as soon as booking opens, full details will appear here.

Birmingham Royal Ballet will once again be splitting in two for simultaneous tours at opposite ends of the country. Tickets are not yet on sale, however full repertory details and names of some venues have already been released along with performance dates.

The tours are designed to showcase Birmingham Royal Ballet’s work in the wider regions surrounding some of the Company’s ‘core’ touring venues in the North East and South West of England.

Now in its seventh year, the endeavour features works highlighting the diverse stregth of the Company’s repertoire. Both the North East and South West legs includes a highlight from the Company’s 2009 season, a preview of what’s to come later in 2010, and ballets from the very first of these regional tour back in 2004.

Details confirmed to date are as follows (further venues TBA):

North East:
Allegri diversi
Grosse Fuge
The Centre and its Opposite

North/East venues announced so far can be found here

South West:
Brouillards
The Dance House
Slaughter on 10th Avenue

South-West venues announced so far can be found here

Cheif Executive Christopher Barron recently said: ‘Initially an experiment, these tours have swiftly become a key part of our UK touring activity, allowing us to engage with audiences just beyond the reach of some of our most valued core touring venues. In instances where people feel they live just too far away to come and see us in Plymouth or Sunderland, we are proud that year after year we are able to bring the work of Birmingham Royal Ballet closer to home.

‘It is of great credit to the Company that we are able to stage these ballets – the same ballets that form parts of our home seasons at Birmingham Hippodrome – in such a large number of different theatres and in such a short space of time.

‘The fruits of these labours have always been met with a great reception from all audiences on these tours, and Birmingham Royal Ballet looks forward to playing to even more people in 2010.’

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s autumn 2010 performances in Plymouth are now on sale, in addition to spring performances of The Sleeping Beauty.

The Company performs two programmes at the Plymouth Theatre Royal in October 2010, the first being Kenneth MacMillan’s glorious Romeo and Juliet, which was last performed as part of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s January 2009 tour of China.

The second is a triple bill of one-act ballets, Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue and Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room.

Here is a full list of forthcoming dates at the Plymouth Theatre Royal currently on sale. Click on the show titles for links to booking details:

The Sleeping Beauty
Tuesday 23-Saturday 27 March 2010

Concerto | Slaughter on Tenth Avenue | In The Upper Room
Tuesday 19 October-Wednesday 20 October 2010

Romeo and Juliet
Thursday 21-Saturday 23 October 2010

Sleeping Beauty

Dates for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s spring 2010 tour of The Sleeping Beauty are already on sale.

Click the venues below for links to booking details:

Birmingham Hippodrome
Wednesday 3-Saturday 13 March 2010

Sunderland Empire
Wednesday 17-Saturday 20 March 2010

Plymouth Theatre Royal
Tuesday 23-Saturday 27 March 2010

The Lowry
Tuesday 30 March-Saturday 3 April 2010

London Coliseum
Tuesday 20-Saturday 24 April 2010

See www.brb.org.uk/sleeping for further information on the production.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s website

Birmingham Royal Ballet on twitter