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After 11 weeks with only 1 week to go, an Autumn tour complete, half way point of The Nutcracker, one essay handed in, many technical schedules and cast sheets later as well as a HUGE amount of lessons learnt, my time on placement with Birmingham Royal Ballet is nearly up! In this post, I will attempt to summarise my intern experience with the company, on tour, during The Nutcracker and in preparations for the Spring 2014 season.

In order to help me reflect I nostalgically re-read my previous posts. Looking back to those first few weeks I have learnt an INCREDIBLE amount. Including the pronunciation of the dancers’ surnames, my attempts started as some sort of comedy sketch in Salford and some of which did take me a while. I’m also about 80% of the way there with their first names. Not only that, I can now put the majority of these names to faces, studying their profiles on BRB’s website after rehearsals and performances definitely paid off. As well as this, many logistical challenges were faced along the way, majority of those involved a photocopier/printer. However,  armed with universal photocopier lessons I feel I could now take on the most complicated of their kind, although I shouldn’t speak too soon! It’s safe to say the result of my photocopying is at least better than the 11 blank pages I first produced!

Aside from these, I’ve learnt the importance of detail through child performance licence applications at a variety of different local authorities across England, China Visa applications (‘passport’ photos have a variety of different dimensions!) and all things technical e.g. schedules and crew calls. Gmail has become very familiar, I’ve learnt and experienced the usefulness and necessity of folders and ‘Bcc’! Leading on from this – organisation is key, particularly in the sense of time management and combined with a tidy desktop, both on the computer and physically.

Such lessons I can take anywhere with me and practice throughout my career – my confidence, eye for detail, stamina, work ethic and most importantly knowledge about the industry have all been massively developed.

On top of this, this placement has provided me with countless opportunities I wouldn’t have received anywhere else, I am incredibly grateful and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I’ve been able to watch a variety of dance, from traditional ballets (Sleeping Beauty/The Nutcracker) to contemporary pieces (E=mc²), whilst also being allowed a real insight into the everyday life of an extremely prestigious company, witnessing the workings of Wardrobe, Technical and Administration. As well as travelling to and spending time within many different theatres around the UK. All of which cannot be described as work for me, particularly those Department for Learning Family Fun day’s!

As I begin to attempt to summarise all what I have learnt and experienced in a portfolio and evaluation I leave BRB extremely grateful to every member of the company, in particular, my mentors Paul Grist (Company Manager) and Paul Grace (Technical Director) who have both been so fabulous!  I gained exactly what I wished to and more from my placement. I can’t thank you enough.


Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker includes a number of parts danced by children. Even while the Company were away performing in Sunderland, London and Plymouth this Autumn, the children for our 2011 shows had already been selected and were busy rehearsing their roles.

In a special guest post written at the start of the season, Julie, mother of one of this year’s Nutcracker children, writes about her daughter’s involvement in the ballet, which tours to the 02 this winter:

I logged into my email account and there, in the subject, was “NUTCRACKER”!!! It leapt out of the screen and I just couldn’t believe it!! A message from Company Manager Paul Grist informing us that our 11 year old daughter had been selected by Birmingham Royal Ballet to take part in The Nutcracker. Sophia is a year 7 student at Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham (the school associated with Birmingham Royal Ballet). That was the first surprise. The second surprise was that the children would travel down to London to take part in the performances at the O2 arena.

Now, in our family, we aren’t strangers to BRB and their tours. Back in 2009 when my young daughters attended the Elmhurst Pre Vocational Saturday Programme they were very fortunate to be asked to be in David Bintley’s Sylvia. Imy, then 10, went on tour with BRB to Sunderland, Plymouth, Manchester and London, and Sophia, 9, joined her sister for the run at the Hippodrome. Imy’s experience of touring with the Company, observing the life of the professional ballet dancer, the unique opportunity of watching world class ballet dancers just a few feet away, and being on stage at venues like the London Coliseum, made her even more determined to audition for Elmhurst to take up vocational ballet training, and she started at the main school in September 2010. Links between the school and Birmingham Royal Ballet are strong and integrated with company members taking class for the older students. Children from Elmhurst are often cast in BRB ballets. Take a look at the cast list with your programme and you will regularly see the phrase “Children are drawn from Elmhurst School for Dance, by kind permission of the Principal and the Artistic Director” from year 7 up to the graduating year in sixth form. Imy also appeared in Coppélia during June 2011 with a group of Elmhurst students. She entered the stage on a carriage wearing an amazing golden dress, sprouting a little pair of wings, just so enchanting!

So as summer fades and our thoughts turn to shorter days and Christmas, Sophia is loving her rehearsals along with fellow students from Elmhurst, learning the children’s repertoire for Nutcracker. She is delighted to be part of this amazing ballet, and excited beyond belief about the O2! Our family Christmas will be different this year as Sophia will travel down to London on Boxing Day. Having previously experienced the first class organisation by BRB and excellent care provided by the Chaperones, we are confident that Sophia will have a wonderful experience. Our tickets are booked at both venues, family will join us to watch at the Hippodrome and friends in London will be with us to celebrate and enjoy the O2! We wish the very best to everyone involved in The Nutcracker!!! Thank you to Birmingham Royal Ballet and Elmhurst for giving my children these wonderful opportunities’!!!

Until the production hits the road, you can read more about the children’s experiences on our tour blog’s new sister-site, ‘BRB at Home’.

Click here for details of The Nutcracker at all venues this season.

The ladies from spotted this poster for our winter 2011 performances at the O2, and posted this snap on twitter!

You can follow them yourselves at

We dance Peter Wright’s world-leading production of The Nutcracker at the O2, 27-30 December 2011. Click here for details.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s website

Birmingham Royal Ballet on twitter