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Cinderella casting announced – but will she end up with the Prince?
Casting has been announced for Ballet, Birmingham & Me’s version of Cinderella, which will see 80 young Brummies from across the city perform their own extraordinary version of the famous ballet at Birmingham Hippodrome this Christmas.
But although the audience will see the characters they all know, such as the Ugly Stepsisters and the Fairy Godmother, participants of BB&Me have spent the last 18 months creating a unique version of the story which promises twists and turns in the plot and some new characters that they won’t be expecting.
Kim (16), from The Pump youth centre in Kitts Green, was thrilled to learn she had been cast as Cinderella. “I was actually on holiday with my family in Weston the day casting was announced, so called my youth worker to find out what my role would be,” she explained. “I couldn’t believe it when she said I’d been cast as Cinderella. I phoned my best friend Toni, who is also taking part in BB&Me, and literally started crying down the phone! I’ve been dancing for 12 years, but getting to play Cinderella on stage at Birmingham Hippodrome is unlike anything I’ve had the chance to do before.”
For some, the project is not only an opportunity to express themselves and have fun, but also a great way to keep fit and active. Luke (16), from 610 youth centre in Kingstanding, has been cast as the Prince. He was a keen rugby player before knee problems meant he needed to find an alternative form of exercise.
He said: “There is that stigma about boys dancing and at first my friends did rib me a bit for giving up rugby training in favour of ballet classes. But as a form of exercise, it’s as physically demanding as anything else so is a perfect way for me to keep active. It’s also technically challenging and precise which really appeals to me, as I’m taking three sciences and maths for my A-levels. Getting used to this level of discipline and accuracy will hopefully be a skill I can take forward when BB&Me finishes.”
One of the differences in this production is the renaming of Buttons as Neville, and reshaping his role into one of a second potential love interest for Cinderella. Cast in the role is Ian (20), from Yardley, who has returned to Birmingham Royal Ballet after previously taking part in Ballet Hoo! four years ago.
Ian explains: “Before Ballet Hoo! I’d never done any ballet nor seen one performed. Working with artists from Birmingham Royal Ballet was truly inspirational. The fact I’m back again shows that projects like this can help to give people the bug for ballet for the rest of their lives. It’s not something that will just end after our performance in December.
“One of the big differences I’ve noticed with BB&Me is that us participants we have much more input to the creative process than with Ballet Hoo! That project was all about performing a version of the existing Romeo & Juliet ballet, whereas this time around the focus is on crafting our own story. It’s a very different experience, and I’m loving every minute.”
So who will Cinderella choose at the end of the ball? All three of the leads remain tight-lipped. “It’ll be a surprise for the audience, as we’re only going to reveal the answer on the night itself,” said Kim.
Cinderella by Ballet, Birmingham & Me will be performed for one night only on Tuesday 7th December at Birmingham Hippodrome. The project runs alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet’s own production of Cinderella – the first major reworking of a ballet this decade – which forms part of the company’s 20th Birthday celebrations.
Ballet, Birmingham & Me is a unique project between Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Youth Service and Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs. Ballet, Birmingham & Me is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and is a People Dancing programme, funded by Legacy Trust UK.
It is a two-year programme of mass participation involving young people from across the City. Activities include dance workshops and rehearsals, leading to a major performance at Birmingham Hippodrome on Tuesday 7th December.
Participants work with dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet as well as professionals from other disciplines – such as production, set design and wardrobe – and will undertake a major role in the planning, creativity and management of a large-scale theatre presentation.
Ballet, Birmingham & Me will run alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet’s own production of Cinderella – the first major reworking of a ballet this decade – which forms part of the company’s 20th Birthday celebrations.
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella performs at Birmingham Hippodrome from 24th November (World Premiere) to 12th December 2010 and tours to Salford, Plymouth and London in 2011.
Ballet, Birmingham & Me is a Dancing for the Games project inspired by London 2012. Dancing for the Games is part of the West Midlands’ Culture Programme for London 2012. It is a three year programme (2010 to 2012) funded by Legacy Trust UK, Arts Council England West Midlands and Advantage West Midlands that aims to get as many people as possible dancing across the West Midlands.