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Chris Peterson is Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Assistant Stage Manager, and was on the Northern leg of last week’s split tour. Here’s his diary, in which we can at last reveal the results of the boat race!

Firstly, following on from Claire’s blog, I would like to take this opportunity to announce the winners of the Boys v Girls boat race in York. It is with great pleasure that I can confirm that this year, the boys won!! (‘by a mile’!) I think it is safe to say that the boys were sporting winners, and in no way was this brought up and bragged about for days after!

We were super lucky with the weather, both in Durham and York, which are both beautiful places in the sunshine. I even had time before the Saturday matinee for a spot of sunbathing with El Morgan [Senior Lighting Technician] in the park next to York Minster!

The tour was extra special for me, as it bought about my first opportunity to call a show for Birmingham Royal Ballet. This involved doing all the backstage calls, Front-of-house bells, and cueing the lighting, sound and flys. Although I have done this before, never have I done it for a company as big as BRB, so the pressure was really on! And obviously, with the lack of words in the performance, it meant me following the score to know where the cues were, which is something I had never done before. As I don’t play any instruments and haven’t had a proper music lesson since Year 9 at school, this made the whole thing even more of a challenge! But all this considered, I think I did well (although you’ll have to ask Diana [Childs, Senior Stage Manager] for an honest answer!).



Apologies to those of you awaiting the results of the Company boat race that took place on the Northern-leg of last week’s tour. There appears to be some dispute between those involved as to the language befitting any form of post-race analysis. Key contentious phrases include ‘trounced’, ‘walkover’ and ‘by a country mile’.

We will be sure to post a full report once this matter is resolved!

Here are some back-stage photos from the day we arrived at the Hall for Cornwall, Truro last week, taken by Eliska Robenn, Deputy Stage Manager.

As well as being the travel day and the Truro get-in, the Thursday of the SW tour was Arthur [Lewis, Stage Technician]’s birthday – and a rather special one to boot!

Word had spread around the Company and plans had been made! I wasn’t entirely truthful when I told Arthur where the coach to Truro was departing from and so whilst a few of us gathered at the ‘meeting point’ and bemoaned the driver’s poor timekeeping, the rest of the Technical team were round the corner decorating the coach with balloons, streamers and banners. Arthur was finally led round to the coach and greeted in a shower of party poppers (all diligently cleared from the pavements of Yeovil before we departed!) before heading off. Once we arrived in Truro, Arthur was given his ‘birthday sash’ and the bundle of balloons (see picture) ready to head off to the theatre with birthday greetings from complete strangers along the way! There was even a busker with a set of bagpipes to ‘pipe’ Arthur’s arrival!

Things quietened down a bit after that and Arthur could have been forgiven for thinking that he’d got off lightly. However, we weren’t having any of that and before class the assembled Company gave a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ along with cake, card, and even balloons descending from the grid for the occasion! After the presentation of a mop bucket full of very appropriate presents ingeniously sourced by Eliska (Robenn, Deputy Stage Manager) and Sarah (Burton, Wardrobe Assistant), the dancers were allowed to carry on with class and Arthur got to open his presents in the sunshine!


Claire Lishman is our Media and PR Officer, and is currently on the Northern leg of the split tour. Here she shares how last night’s opening performance went!

‘The opening night at Durham Gala Theatre was extremely well received by our fans in the North East. There was not a seat to be had in the packed auditorium so I gave up my seat and will wait to see the show in York on Friday night! But from talking to members of the audience in the intervals the Sleeping Beauty pas de deux with Jamie Bond and Natasha Oughtred was just breathtaking and left the audience wanting plenty more where that came from! And judging from the sound of the rapturous applause and cheering at the final curtain it sounded like Slaughter on Tenth Avenue went down a storm too!

‘Two shows today as Durham is basked in glorious sunshine. There is plenty of entertainment to be had between shows too, as Birmingham Royal Ballet’s crew, technicians and wardrobe staff battle it out (girls versus boys) in a rowing race down the river! Last time this happened the girls beat the boys ‘by a mile’ so the boys are fired up for restoring some pride. Watch this space for results and photos…’


Click here for details of performances in Yeovil and Truro
Click here for details of performances in Durham and York

Preparations are underway for tonight’s opening performances in Yeovil and Durham. Here you can see Sarah Burton from the Wardrobe department ironing the padded vest that Rory Mackay will wear as the Widow Simone in La Fille mal gardée!

Click here for details of performances in Yeovil and Truro
Click here for details of performances in Durham and York

Our tour to both the North East and the South West opens tomorrow in Yeovil and Durham. One of the things that’s been most challenging in rehearsing for this tour has been preparing to perform on two different stages in less than one week.

The dancers need keen spacial awareness to ensure that they maintain clean lines and placement in the various performance spaces. As you can see from the example in the picture below, our studios have been marked out showing the exact dimensions of the different theatres!

As well as following Birmingham Royal Ballet, those of you on twitter can also follow each of the four venues on this tour. Click the links below to see what they’re saying right now:


Birmingham Royal Ballet are bringing the sexy, sassy, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue to both Durham and York next week. The ballet tells the tale of a hapless 1930s stage performer who must extend his performance in order to stall a hitman who’s been instructed to bump him off as soon as his solo ends. The reason for the contract on his life? He’s become rather to close to a mob boss’s girlfriend, down at the local speak-easy.

Here you can see a clip of Robert Parker and Céline Gittens in rehearsals for the piece, which the Company performed last year as part of our anniversary gala in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales.

Click here for details of our performances in Durham and York
Click here for details of what we’re performing in Yeovil and Truro

Among the pieces we’re performing in the South of England this year is an excerpt from Frederick Ashton’s The Dream.

Based on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the ballet features many of the famous characters, including Oberon and Titania, the Kind and Queen of the fairies. It is their romantic pas de deux which we’re dancing on this tour, in Yeoville and Truro.

In the video below you can see Company dancers Natasha Oughtred and Joseph Caley being taught the roles by Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell, who created the parts when Ashton choreographed the ballet in 1964. Our Ballet Mistress Marion Tait also talks about how invaluable this personal coaching is for the dancers who you will see on this tour.

Frederick Ashton also choreographed La Fille mal gardée, sections of which appear in our programme for both the North and the South.

Click here for details of our performances in Yeovil and Truro
Click here for details what we’re dancing in Durham and York

Each performance on our split tour tour combines excerpts from the classics with complete one-act ballets. One of the one-act works heading to Truro and Yeovil this year is Allegri diversi, which delighted audiences in the North East in 2010.

It is choreographed by our own Director, David Bintley, who created the glittering new production of Cinderella which was shown on the BBC this Christmas. In the clip below you can see two of our dancers, Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma, rehearsing Allegri diversi in our Birmingham studios:

Click here for details of performances in Yeovil and Truro
Click here for details of performances in Durham and York

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s website

Birmingham Royal Ballet on twitter