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Artist Dusty Button celebrated her 21st Birthday yesterday. Birmingham Royal Ballet was heading home, having completed a tour the night before, so Dusty’s fellow dancers decorated the coach for her!

With thanks to Ballet Mistress Marion Tait, who took this photograph.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s tour of the North and South of England opened on Tuesday, but here’s an interview with Dusty Button from last week to offer a glimpse at the preparations that were going on. Dusty, who was born in South Carolina, is on the Northern leg of the tour.

How have the rehearsals been going?

It’s been really good this past week because we all know that it’s crunch time. We know that we have to be on stage this week so we’re all working together and with the staff, and communication is really good. That’s generally the case, but at times when you’ve got a long period before the show nobody really gets worried as much. But because we knew that we had just a week before we’d be on stage, we were all really focused on really figuring the pieces out. So it’s good that everything’s working and it’s coming along! It’s just exhausting.

What do you think of the pieces you’re dancing on this tour?

I really love the variety of rep on this tour. I really enjoy it being different, because otherwise there’s a risk that you can get a bit bored. I like changing between pieces, because it keeps you occupied and keeps your mind working. You can concentrate on different elements of your artistry from piece to piece. Then whenever you return to a work you bring to it experiences from all the things you’ve danced in the meantime.

Have you been to any of the cities on this tour before?

Not yet – this is only the second of these split tours that I’ve done and last time I was on the southern leg. But my ballet teacher who used to teach me in South Carolina is actually from York. She trained me until I went to ABT at 16, and she recently told me that her friend went past the York Theatre Royal and saw me on the posters for this tour! She’s really proud that one of her students is now appearing at the theatre that she used to walk past all the time, it was really cool and really random. So I’m excited to go and see the city, and I’ve heard it’s beautiful up there too.

Is there any one item in your bag that you can’t tour without?

Oh, my ipod! Yes! I don’t think I could live without my ipod, even more so than my cell phone. I just love music. When you wake up and you have a great song on and are strutting down the street in the morning it’s amazing, it can make or break your day! Sometimes I take my speakers for when we’re back at our digs between shows, or a lot of the time you can just run it through the TV speakers. I’m the flat DJ for sure!

Visit www.brb.org.uk/ne2010 to find out more about Dusty’s performances in the North/East of England.

You can now find brand new dancer interviews over on our NE2010 and SW2010 microsites.

Victoria Marr and Aonghus Campbell discuss the shows in the North over at www.brb.org.uk/ne2010.

Céline Gittens and Alexander Campbell talk about the repertory being danced in the South over at www.brb.org.uk/sw2010.

Birmingham Royal Ballet performs Allegri diversi as part of its current tour of the North East of England, alongside Grosse Fuge and The Centre and its Opposite.

You can find out more about the performances by visiting www.brb.org.uk/ne2010

Here you can see a video of Company Principals Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao in rehearsals for the piece, in our own studios in Birmingham.

On-sale dates have been confirmed for every date on our 2010 tour of the North and South of England! Here’s the full list complete with repertory:

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

The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
Performances 25-26 May
Tickets go on sale 13 March

York Theatre Royal
Performances 28-29 May
Tickets go on sale 22 Feb

The Gala, Durham
Performances 1-2 June
Tickets go on sale 15 Feb

Kings Lynn
Performances 4-5 June
Tickets go on sale 29 March

South-West:
Bouillards | The Dance House | Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Performances 25-26 May
Tickets go on sale 5 March

The Lighthouse, Poole
Performances 28-29 May
Tickets go on sale 1 March

The Hallf or Cornwall, Truro
Performances 4-5 June
Tickets go on sale 17 February

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 website

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