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A message from two of our Elmhurst School for Dance Graduate Year Students, currently dancing with the Company in Japan.

Saturday 14th May

First performance of Sir Peter Wright’s The Sleeping Beauty at the Kamakura performing arts centre started at 3pm today which was a strange time for most of us to start a show. Feeling tired from a hard day’s rehearsal on Friday, the excitement and little nerves got us through the show. Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma were the leading roles today, which was an inspiration beyond the imagination! Both were on top form and gave a flawless performance. The audience were quiet in comparison to audiences in the west but the reception at the curtain call was very much approving of the display of talent throughout the performance.

The first few days of weather were very wet and windy and the streets were a sea of umbrellas so many of us purchased our own and enjoyed being part of the culture joining the crowds. Having wet weather to start with it’s just our luck that then, the sun decided to put its hat on just as we spend all day performing and travelling!

Time backstage has been interesting as we’ve been having company class in a rather small studio which gets rather packed, much like our changing rooms as all the men, from students to principals share one room! It’s no hassle however as all the guys in the company are really nice and we all get along very well.

Despite what we’ve heard on the news before coming, we’ve felt very little if any tremors and day to day life seems to be very normal here. Yokohama is a great city with small cheap places to eat, lots of gaming arcades (which we enjoy very much!), and shops that have as many as 8 floors of shopping! Female heaven, Male hell! We’ve all been having a great time so far and are looking forward to our upcoming shows in Tokyo and Nagoya.

Shaun Mclaughlin and Benjamin Roomes
Graduate students Elmhurst School for Dance


Great Wall of China by Paul Grist

Being asked to go on tour with Birmingham Royal Ballet to China is the most exciting thing I have ever done in my life. As well as getting the opportunity to perform in Romeo and Juliet and Beauty and the Beast, it has been amazing to tour round China. Everyone in the Company has been so helpful and caring – and also lots of fun!

We’ve got the chance to do lots of sightseeing too; the Temple of Six Banyun Trees, Tianamen Square, The Forbidden City, the Oriental Pearl Tower and many more. But my favourite day out was the trip that the company organised to the Great Wall of China at Simatai – it was amazing to see and we had so much fun!

Being on tour with the Company in China has been fantastic; it’s been great to have the opportunity to work with such fantastic dancers – and to have such a brilliant time with everyone too!

Sam Brown
Elmhurst student


It’s our second week of the China tour and we are performing at the Grand National Theatre of the Performing Arts in Beijing, an ultra-modern venue situated at a walking distance from the famous Tiananmen Square. In the evening, when illuminated, the dome-shaped theatre, which is surrounded by water, almost looks like a UFO!

This evening was the opening night of Romeo and Juliet. We dance in the town square and ballroom scenes. Performing this ballet is so much fun; there is a lot of acting involved, and we really get drawn into the story. We also do Birds in David Bintley’s Beauty and the Beast, where the dancing is more demanding… but just as fun (although we do always feel more nervous going on for this ballet than the other).

We’ve managed to cram in as much sight seeing as possible during our free time: we’ve explored the Forbidden City, visited the Olympic stadiums and – best of all – we climbed a section of the Great Wall (thanks Paul for organising this amazing trip!) On the way down we zip-wired from the wall back to the starting point, a great way to end the outing…although Martina got stuck half way down because she was too light! We decided that she would have a whole duck to herself for dinner that evening 😉

We’ve already seen and done so much here in China and could go on writing for ages, but we don’t want to bore you with a whole essay so we’ll leave it short and sweet and end by saying thank you to everyone at Birmingham Royal Ballet for making this an unforgettable experience for us and for making us feel so welcome!

Vanessa Spiteri and Martina Calcagno
Elmhurst students

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s website

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