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Here’s the final video diary from Virginia, recorded once Swan Lake had opened. Included is part of a speech made by Director David Bintley at a post-show reception, with the news that we’ll be back again!

For those in the UK, the Company will be peforming Swan Lake as part of its 2010 summer season at Birmingham Hippodrome! Click here for details.


Media and PR Manager Simon Harper was interviewed by Veer TV about our performances of Swan Lake. You can see the clip here:

While Birmingham Royal Ballet is over in the USA, a few people stateside have been recording short video diaries, so that members of the Company back at our Birmingham HQ can see how things are going.

Here you can see footage from Tuesday and Wednesday:

Principal dancer Nao Sakuma’s silhouette is adorning various promotional items over here – most impressive is probably the enormous flags, but we love the coffee cup holders!

Birmingham Royal Ballet is currently in Norfolk, Virginia, to perform Swan Lake at the Virginia Arts Festival.

Some people out on the road recorded short video diaries for members of the Company who had remained back home at Birmingham Royal Ballet’s HQ in the UK. Here you can see excerpts from the clips recorded on Sunday and Monday at the beginning of this week:

Hello everyone! I just thought I’d grab a couple of minutes during the Swan Lake General to post an update on what’s been happening in the last couple of days.

As everyone is now working right through until we arrive back in Brum on Tuesday morning, yesterday (Wednesday) was a free day for most of the Company – although the LX department were in all day working on the lighting. The Festival organised a trip to the beach yesterday afternoon and the 40 Company members who went had a fantastic time. Everyone also managed to return sunburn-free which is something of an achievement – and particularly important for the swans given that if the skin under their white make-up is sunburnt, they turn purple under the lights!! I think that most people who didn’t go to the beach went shopping; I certainly spent a couple of hours in the mall and will be returning with a heavier suitcase!

It was back to work for everyone this morning; after class we had a two-hour stage call on Acts II and IV (the ‘white’ acts) and the General rehearsal started at 4pm; I think most people are keen to get back to the hotel and start following the election results online once we’re done here!

The local interest in our visit continues and we’ve had lots of press activity going on today which is great for our profile aswell as for ticket sales which are going extremely well. Tomorrow will be an early start as we’ve got a School’s Matinee at 10.30am – this will consist of a performance of Acts III and IV, introduced by Marion and Dom; it’s the culmination of a busy week of workshops by the Learning Department and having heard great feedback from those sessions, I think everyone is looking forward to the students seeing the show.

Quite a lot of people (me included) are still having trouble adjusting to the time difference over here – although no-one seems to have suffered as spectacularly as a certain Mr Tom Stevens on Tuesday morning. Having set his alarm for 8am, Tom thought the jet-lag was to blame for his tiredness when the alarm went off. It was only 15 minutes later when he’d got up, pottered round his room, had a shave, opened the curtains and been surprised to see that it was still dark outside, that he realised that it was actually 3.15am – the clock on his iPhone had automatically reset to UK time at midnight!


The dancers had class on stage a few days ago, led by Ballet Mistress Marion Tait. Here’s a shot from the back of the theatre:

The Company is over in the USA at the moment, preparing to perform Swan Lake Friday to Sunday as part of the Virginia Arts Festival! You can find out more about the festival, and book tickets for the shows, but clicking here.

Here’s a newly published clip showing Principals Gaylene Cummerfield and Matthew Lawrence in rehearsals back in Birmingham last month:

The Company also performs Swan Lake as part of its 2010 summer season at Birmingham Hippodrome. Click here to find out more and for links to booking details.

Well, after a rather mammoth journey the main Company travel group finally arrived in Norfolk on Sunday evening at about 2145 local time (0245 Monday, UK time!).

We’d left the Hippodrome at 0700 on Sunday morning and hadn’t even made it to the supermarket on Thorp Street before one of the coaches had broken down. As with the return leg of the trip to the Embassy for visa interviews, it was the coach I was on – I’ve now got a reputation as a coach jinx-er! So, after a hasty bit of re-arrangement, we got as many people as we could onto the working coach and sent that on it’s way to Heathrow whilst the 21 of us left on the broken coach waited for the coach company to send a replacement. That arrived within about 40 minutes and we set-off for the second time about an hour after we’d set-off for the first time! Everything went smoothly at Heathrow and the flight-time seemed to pass relatively quickly (a glass of wine and a couple of films helping things along very nicely!).

Once we arrived in Washington we had US immigration to get through – 45 minutes of queueing later and we’d all got into the country, collected our bags and started to assemble in the arrivals hall. The Virginia Arts Festival had sent two of their team of volunteers up to meet us: Dan and Sallie who did the same trip in 2007 and loved the Company so much that they’d insisted on being allowed to come and meet us again! Then it was back onto more coaches for the 4hr trip down to Norfolk. Everyone was delighted to arrive at the hotel and most people headed out into town in search of something to eat, before heading back to the fantastically comfy beds – by the time we got to bed, I think most of us had been up for 24hrs!

Norfolk is a really lovely town. The hotel is directly opposite the theatre and both are only a very short walk into the centre of town, although everyone here seems to drive everywhere! The people are really friendly, very welcoming and everyone seems very excited that we’re in town!

The Festival staff and volunteers are also incredibly hospitable and are really taking the trouble to make sure that everyone is well looked after and that everything is taken care of. Everyone seems to have found a different cafe, diner or restaurant that’s become a firm favourite and the breakfasts are particularly popular – most are so large as to negate the requirement for any other meal during the day!

The weather has been incredibly hot and humid for the past couple of days but the storms forecast for today failed to materialise. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that they don’t come tomorrow as the Festival have organised a trip to the beach for those people who have a free day tomorrow.

Today’s rehearsals have gone very well and the show is looking absolutely fantastic at Chrysler Hall. Phil [Ellis, Conductor] has been rehearsing with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra this morning and everyone is looking forward to hearing them at the General on Thursday.

Anyway, I need to head off and catch the end of the rehearsal – more soon!


Birmingham Royal Ballet performs Swan Lake as part of the Virginia Arts Festival this weekend, Friday 7-Sunday 9 May. The Company arrived in Virginia this week, allowing a few days to shake off their jet-lag and prepare the production.

Lighting Director Johnny Westall-Eyre wrote us a few words about what they’ve been up to so far:

Greetings from the US of A. The Birmingham Royal Ballet tour here is going really well, we have started the fit up and everything is going swimmingly. Most of the crew guys are familiar to us from our last visit and there was a lot of big back slapping hugs when we all met up again.

It is a lovely space which is well looked after and makes our fit up go as well as we could hope. The weather is unseasonably hot, we had temperatures of 88*F on Saturday, 91* F on Sunday with high humidity but today the sky is a little cloudy as the storm brews. Shirt sleeves for everyone as it is only dropping to 70* at night!

The dancers have arrived now and the wardrobe staff have just started work at the theatre. Nearly everyone is waking at between 04:00 and 06:00 due to the 5 hour time difference but most people are OK after the flight. We have had some beautiful sunsets and I have attached a pic of the USS Wisconsin which is one of the sights of Norfolk. It’s at the end of one of the main streets here in town, as if somebody just parked it there by accident.

One of the first things we did on Saturday was take a stroll down the – usually – quiet main street where we stumbled across a NATO parade, part of the VAF, complete with floats from Lithuania, Norway (a Viking boat), Italy (Ferraris) Sweden, Romania etc and finished up with the UK entry, an open top red London bus and a pipe and drum band playing ‘Flower of Scotland’! The US had 6 ‘sheriffs’ riding piebald horses and some fantastic marching majorettes.

Will write again when we actually do some Ballet!


Johnny Westall-Eyre.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s website

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