Birmingham Royal Ballet 2014/15
Birmingham Royal Ballet announces the 2014/2015 Birmingham Hippodrome season, the 25th season at its home theatre in the Midlands. The season will celebrate the Company’s varied repertory, from the gothic fairy-tale Beauty and the Beast in the autumn through to the return of The Nutcracker for Christmas and Sylvia in the summer of 2015. Added to the mix will be two works new to Birmingham audiences; a re-creation by Dame Gillian Lynne of the ground-breaking Miracle in the Gorbals, and a new one-act ballet from Director David Bintley called The King Dances. Over the course of the season, the Company will perform four full-length classic ballets and three programmes of shorter works to include the return of Bintley’s Carmina burana, MacMillan’s La Fin du jour and a revival of George Balanchine’s earliest American creation Serenade.
During the 14/15 season Birmingham Royal Ballet will continue to focus on creating new works and presenting quality productions at affordable ticket prices. The Company has held most of its prices for the last few seasons and from September 2014 a flexible range of prices will enable the Company to offer tickets from as little as £16 with a generous range of concessionary rates available to many.
Throughout the season, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 60 full-time dancers from across the world will be accompanied by Britain’s busiest ballet orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. The Sinfonia under the musical directorship of Koen Kessels, with Principal Conductor Paul Murphy and Conductor Philip Ellis, plays for Birmingham Royal Ballet's wide-ranging programme in the UK and abroad.
The 14/15 Birmingham season begins with David Bintley’s Beauty and the Beast. In this towering gothic fairy-tale from the creator of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s smash-hit Cinderella, a cruel Prince, cursed to spend his life as a Beast, finds salvation in the heart of a beautiful girl.
Beauty and the Beast 30 September – 4 October 2014
Caught stealing a single rose, Belle’s desperate father exchanges his life for his youngest daughter’s freedom. In his distant castle the Beast, stripped of his handsome features and his very humanity, must win her heart, or spend the rest of his life in bitter solitude.
A beautiful girl, a hideous beast, a golden ballroom full of animals, two haughty sisters and a grumpy grandmother, dance through the unfolding pages of Philip Prowse’s stunning storybook set, whilst David Bintley’s rich choreography brings to life magical transformations, wild waltzes, and a relationship between Belle and the Beast that is at first terrifying, but ultimately beautiful.
Shadows of War
La Fin du jour / Miracle in the Gorbals / Flowers of the Forest 8 – 11 October 2014
Shadows of War presents three one-act ballets each touched in some way by war.
Kenneth MacMillan’s La Fin du jour captures the glamorous ‘la plage’ lifestyle of the depression era. A group of trendy, bright young things while away their days with swimming, golf and new-fangled aeroplanes. They studiously ignore the looming threat of war which will eventually call time on their careless enjoyment and high spirits.
Robert Helpmann’s (Royal Ballet dancer and the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) 1944 Miracle in the Gorbals was a great leap forward for British ballet. Set in a run-down and dangerous Glasgow suburb, it dispensed with all the frippery of traditional ballets, replacing it with a gritty realism that proved an enormous success. After the shock of a girl’s suicide, the arrival of a mysterious stranger who is able to bring her back to life creates waves among the violent inhabitants of the tenements. The choreography for this ground-breaking dance drama is being re-created by Dame Gillian Lynne (a member of the original cast), with sets and costumes by Adam Wiltshire after original set designs by Edward Burra, a leading 20th-century British artist.
David Bintley’s Flowers of the Forest is a ballet in two parts. Set to music by Malcolm Arnold, ‘Four Scottish Dances’ presents a light-hearted and nostalgic ‘picture postcard’ view of Scotland, whilst ‘Scottish Ballad’ strikes a more serious note, and is danced to a folk-inspired score by the young Benjamin Britten. The composer’s pacifist views found voice in this piece, which takes its title from the famous ballad for the flower of Scottish youth slain on Flodden Field.
The Nutcracker 28 November – 13 December 2014
Let yourself get swept up in the excitement of Christmas with one of the best-known classical ballets of all-time The Nutcracker.
This unparalleled, world-famous production by Sir Peter Wright, complete with sets and costumes by John Macfarlane, the designer of the Company’s stunning Cinderella, is one not to be missed!
What more could a young girl ask for at Christmas, than for all her dreams to come true? After sneaking downstairs at midnight to play with her new Nutcracker doll, Clara is swept up in a fantasy of toy soldiers, giant rats, snow fairies, magic and mystery. When she saves her beloved Nutcracker from the King of the Rats, she is whisked away to an enchanted land and dances the night away in his arms, meeting a host of strange and exotic characters, before she is finally transformed into a beautiful ballerina.
The night passes in a blur and she wakes up on Christmas morning at the foot of the Christmas tree with memories that will stay with her forever, as the memory of this amazing production will stay with everyone who sees it.
Serenade / Lyric Pieces / In the Upper Room 18 – 21 February 2015
Moving Stateside presents three ballets spanning nearly a century of US creativity, from George Balanchine’s earliest American creation to one of the Company’s most recent commissions.
Serenade is a stunning piece of pure dance from master choreographer George Balanchine, performed to the glorious music of Tchaikovsky. Wearing romantic costumes in shades of blue, dancers move elegantly on a bare stage, set against a midnight blue background. A milestone in the history of dance, Serenade is the first original ballet Balanchine created in America.
Jessica Lang’s Lyric Pieces, commissioned for the International Dance Festival Birmingham 2012, was one of the highlights of that season and makes a welcome return. For her first piece for a major European company, award-winning American choreographer Lang used the romantic musical miniatures by Norwegian master Edvard Grieg and complemented them with a hand-picked design team with costumes by Elena Comendador and lighting by Nicole Pearce.
In the Upper Room features dancers in trainers and striking red pointe shoes who dominate the stage with energy, flair and finesse in this exhilarating, athletic ballet by American dance phenomenon Twyla Tharp. Philip Glass’s score builds to an emotional peak with dancing that is quick-witted and even quicker footed.
A high-octane, all-American evening!
Coppélia 24 – 28 February 2015
Magic, mayhem and the original living doll.
What’s at the heart of a woman? Eccentric toymaker Dr Coppélius wants to know, and he’s planning to bring his mechanical doll, Coppélia, to life. He just needs the right spell.
When Dr Coppélius leaves Coppélia on his workshop balcony she’s soon causing quite a stir in the village. Particularly in the heart of red-blooded young lover Franz and the jealous mind of his real-life fiancée Swanilda- who’s mistaken the mannequin for a crying, talking, sleeping, walking rival. With a wild mix of abracadabra, and some mischievous maidens, comic chaos is riotously unleashed when humans and automatons collide in Dr Coppélius’s spooky toyshop.
Sir Peter Wright’s enchanting production of this joyous and witty ballet is an ever-popular celebration of love, with a sparkling score and breath-taking choreography. Coppélia is guaranteed to lift the hearts of all the family.
The King Dances / Carmina burana 17 – 20 June 2015
Marking Director David Bintley’s 20th year with Birmingham Royal Ballet, this programme contrasts his acclaimed Carmina burana from 1995 with his latest work The King Dances.
In 1653 the 14-year-old Louis XIV of France danced the role of Apollo the sun god in Le Ballet de la Nuit, and earned himself forever the soubriquet the Sun King. In The King Dances David Bintley reimagines the very beginnings of ballet, when men were quite literally, the kings of dance.
In Carmina burana, the first ballet Bintley created for the Company as Director, an encounter with the mind-blowing Goddess Fortuna deals three seminarians a major lesson in the fickle nature of fate.
Compelled to abandon their sacred studies to pursue a more sensual approach to life, forbidden pleasures and physical temptations quickly become the young men’s most eager areas of revision. Soon the young celebrants are soaring with love, passion and alcohol.
Carmina burana is a thrilling, large-scale production, danced to Carl Orff’s dramatic and emotionally charged choral music, for which the Royal Ballet Sinfonia are joined by Birmingham’s Ex Cathedra. Inspired by the satirical writings of medieval priests, Orff’s rousing choral tour de force is a feat in its own right. Bintley’s breath-taking choreography ensures an unforgettable experience that has been astonishing and delighting audiences for nearly 20 years.
Sylvia 24 – 27 June 2015
The 2014/15 Birmingham Hippodrome season finishes with a humorous trip through time to learn valuable lessons in love.
Count Guiccioli’s infidelities cause marital strife between him and his wife and threaten both their anniversary celebration and the burgeoning love between Amyntas and Sylvia, their servants. It is left to the God of love, Eros (in disguise as a gardener), to reconcile their differences as he takes them, and us, back to the age of mythical Rome in order to teach them all a lesson about Love.
David Bintley’s time-hopping comedy features music by Léo Delibes, the composer of Coppélia, and a colourful cast of Gods and Goddesses, slave girls and pirates. Tchaikovsky wrote of Delibes’ score that his own music for Swan Lake was ‘poor stuff’ in comparison.
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