Birmingham Royal Ballet announces 2019/20 season

Theme and Variations: Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet; photo: Bill Cooper

10 productions, 11 venues, 127 performances, including first time collaborations with Ballet Black and newly appointed Director Carlos Acosta. It’s a season that’s bursting with brilliance!

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 2019/20 season marks an exciting period of transformation. For the first time in the company’s history, the season has been created in partnership with leaders from across the world of dance, including Ballet Black and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s newly appointed Director Carlos Acosta CBE, who bring fresh perspectives to the programme, and herald a new era and a bright future ahead.

The 2019/20 season marks the transition between David Bintley’s Directorship and Carlos Acosta’s first season, which will be in 2020/21, and creates opportunities for the Company to experiment with new partnerships to grow and inspire audiences, as well as presenting some of its best loved classics including works by Director Laureate Sir Peter Wright.

The first full-length production in the 2019/20 season is David Bintley and Galina Samsova’s exquisite production of Giselle (25 Sep – 2 Nov), swiftly followed by the welcome return of Sir Peter Wright’s stunning Swan Lake (29 Jan – 4 Apr). The end of the season marks a new beginning, as new Director Carlos Acosta is welcomed by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s inaugural performances of his ravishing comedy Don Quixote (19 – 27 Jun), which receives its first UK performances outside London. Carlos will also curate an energising and celebratory festival at Birmingham Hippodrome and Sadler’s Wells, London in June 2020.

Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet as Wilis; photo: Bill Cooper
Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet as Wilis; photo: Bill Cooper

TWO BALLET NOW WORLD PREMIERES

The 2019/20 season features two world premieres in the Ballet Now talent development programme. The first, by Queensland Ballet’s Jack Lister, appears alongside Cathy Marston’s critically-acclaimed The Suit (performed by Ballet Black) and Twyla Tharp’s sizzling tribute to ‘Old Blue Eyes’, Nine Sinatra Songs. This exciting mixed programme is performed in Birmingham and London (19 Sep – 30 Oct).

The season’s second world premiere, choreographed by Daniela Cardim, is part of a mixed programme curated by incoming Director Carlos Acosta as part of his soon-to-be revealed festival. This bill is completed by George Balanchine’s exuberant Theme and Variations and Goyo Montero’s Chacona. Created for Uruguayan company National Ballet Sobre in 2017, Chacona is a thrilling, physical piece set to violin, guitar and piano which receives its UK premiere in this programme. This mixed programme is presented at Sadler’s Wells, London (11 – 13 Jun). Further programme announcements for the Carlos Acosta / Birmingham Royal Ballet festival will be revealed in due course.

THE RETURN OF THE NUTCRACKER & EVENING OF MUSIC AND DANCE

Mathias Dingman as The Prince and Tom Rogers as King Rat in The Nutcracker; photo: Bill Cooper

Sir Peter Wright’s acclaimed production of The Nutcracker returns to Birmingham Hippodrome for the festive season (22 Nov – 14 Dec), transporting the audience beyond the theatre to a realm of giant Christmas trees and dancing snowflakes.

The acclaimed Royal Ballet Sinfonia takes centre stage once more for a spectacular Evening of Music and Dance (14 & 15 Feb) in Birmingham and Northampton. This popular annual gala includes well-loved gems and hidden classics selected by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conductors alongside danced excerpts from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s repertory.

FOR FAMILIES

Birmingham Royal Ballet will once again be embarking on a spring tour (May 2020) to regional venues with a programme of work specially designed for families. Its mid-scale tour makes ballet even more accessible for younger audiences, whilst still delighting and entertaining adults. Further details to be announced.

Don Quixote: Carlos Acosta, MarinelaNunez and Artists of Royal Ballet; photo John Persson

YOUNG AUDIENCES

Younger audience members can enjoy Birmingham Royal Ballet’s First Steps programme. These hour-long, interactive shows are adapted for children aged 3+. A storyteller captures their imagination, introducing the music, leading characters and some of the technical magic – the perfect introduction to ballet.

Alongside the main programme, Birmingham Royal Ballet continues to introduce new audiences from touring venues across the country to their world-class dance and music. From primary schools to care homes, community centres to museums, the Company unlocks amazing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.

ENGAGEMENT & PARTICIPATION

Following the success of Cinderella Dreams in 2017 and Sleeping Beauty Dreams in 2018 at Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Royal Ballet will embark on Swan Lake Dreams; an ambitious engagement and participation project which will be performed on the main stage at Birmingham Hippodrome (23 February 2020), as well as at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton (2 February 2020) and Theatre Royal in Plymouth (31 March 2020).

A cast of approximately 70 selected students from each of the three areas will be given the opportunity to train, rehearse and perform in a full-length ballet alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers. Open to ballet students aged 9+, the Swan Lake Dreams project gives insight into the Company workings whilst aiming to develop talent and raise aspirations for dancers of all ages. Auditions will take place between July and October 2019 with intensive and weekly rehearsals from July through to the performances in 2020.

The Company will partner with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, whose orchestra will accompany the Swan Lake Dreams Birmingham performance, conducted by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s principal conductor Paul Murphy.

Delia Mathews as Odette and Brandon Lawrence as Prince Siegfried; photo: Andrew Ross
Delia Mathews as Odette and Brandon Lawrence as Prince Siegfried; photo: Andrew Ross

To alleviate barriers to participation, Birmingham Royal Ballet launched its Dreams Bursary Fund in 2018 which supports talented young dancers aged 8 -18 to fulfil their potential – whatever their background. This carefully targeted resource provides talented children with financial support to take part in any Birmingham Royal Ballet dancer development or Birmingham Royal Ballet Dreams opportunity, giving them the best possible chance to let their talent flourish and grow. The Dreams Bursary Fund is open to donations from individuals, organisations and other fund-giving organisations. Held exclusively to support access to ballet participation, a number of bursaries are considered every year and can include, but are not limited to, support for attendance, transport, accommodation and dancewear.

Dance Track, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s talent identification and training programme, is now in its 22nd year, working with 50 primary schools across Birmingham. Each year the Dance Track team engages with in excess of 2,500 children age 5 and 6.

The programme offers free weekly classes and uniforms plus opportunities to see Birmingham Royal Ballet in rehearsal and performance. 80 children showing particular aptitude and enjoyment in their dance classes are invited back for a further year of training, where they are prepared for auditions at Elmhurst Ballet School and The Royal Ballet School associate schemes.

Dance Track - Birmingham Royal Ballet
Dance Track – Birmingham Royal Ballet

135 children from north, south and central Birmingham currently attend weekly classes and 32 children attend Dance Track Plus classes. Many of the children have performed in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s productions in Birmingham and at the Royal Albert Hall, London. In the last 15 years, 17 children have been accepted into full-time vocational schools around the country. Dance Track would not be possible without generous donations from multiple trusts, foundations and individual donors and this pioneering programme continues throughout the 2019/20 season.

Established in 2002, Freefall Dance Company provides high-quality training and performance opportunities for talented adults with severe learning difficulties, challenging stereotypical views of both dance and people with learning disabilities.  The Company meets weekly at Birmingham Royal Ballet studios to hone their ballet technique, prepare for performances and develop leadership and facilitation skills for their own education and outreach projects. Each year, Freefall showcases its work through performances as well as at international dance-for–screen festivals with ground-breaking performance films.

In the 2019/20 season, Freefall Dance Company will collaborate with current Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet David Bintley and award-winning film director Ross MacGibbon on a new landmark dance-for-screen project. Further details to be announced.

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