Birmingham Royal Ballet announces new season 2011-2012

March 25, 2011

Ballet, Ballet News, Press Releases

two dancers in costume on stage

Beauty and Beast Elisha Willis as Belle and Robert Parker as the Beast with Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet photo Bill Cooper

The new season is likely to be a very tough one for ballet companies as the Budget cuts begin to bite.  As each reveals it’s plans for the coming year it will be interesting to see which has the nerve to programme innovation and something exciting to lure cash-strapped audiences.  They’ve also got to factor in the looming Olympic Games in London 2012 and how to encourage the cross-over from sport to art. Birmingham Royal Ballet makes a great start with a selection of what they do best – story ballets. You’re not going to be short of Nutcracker options this Christmas with three of the best English ballet companies all bringing out their box office sure-fire hits. The Two Pigeons is a BRB favourite and they have some great dancers capable of tackling The Dream. With the team behind E=mc² producing a World Premiere, Faster, Higher, Stronger, it’s a season to look forward to. 


Celebrate the rich heritage of English ballet

A world premiere by David Bintley

Ticket Sales On-line at the Birmingham Hippodrome website 

Ticket Sales: 0844 338 5000

Birmingham Royal Ballet is pleased to announce its 2011 – 2012 season at its home theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome.

Birmingham Royal Ballet is fortunate to be part of a great English tradition of excellence and creativity, which has resulted in a unique style and repertory dating back to the 1930s.  The Company has spent the last 20 years in Birmingham strengthening and augmenting this.

Given the current economic climate this is likely to be a tough year for the Company, but Birmingham Royal Ballet is prepared for this.  By taking this opportunity to look back at some of the key works of the Company’s repertory in The Dream, Hobson’s Choice and Far from the Madding Crowd, we celebrate the rich and varied storytelling tradition of this country.

2011-12 sees the build-up to a great sporting endeavour in the UK, the hosting of the London 2012 Olympic Games.  Birmingham Royal Ballet trust this new season of ballet will demonstrate that this tradition of endeavour, perseverance and attainment is not just confined to the world of sport.

The following information lists the many exciting productions on offer, culminating in the world premiere of a new ballet by Director David Bintley in the summer of 2012 that will capture the spirit of the pre-Olympics period – hope, aspiration and sheer determination to perform.

Autumn Season 2011:

Beauty and the Beast                                     28 September–2 October2011

Beauty and the Beast is a gothic fairytale from David Bintley, the creator of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s smash-hit Cinderella.  A cruel Prince, cursed to spend the rest of his life living in a fantastical castle with the animals he callously hunted, finds salvation in the heart of a beautiful girl.  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, must win her heart, or spend the rest of his life in solitude.  A beautiful girl, a hideous beast, a golden ballroom full of animals, two outrageously haughty sisters and a grumpy grandmother worthy of Roald Dahl, dance, prance and rage through the unfolding pages of Philip Prowse’s stunning storybook sets of forests and castles.

David Bintley’s rich choreography brings to life magical transformations, wild waltzes, soaring formations of birds and a relationship between Belle and the Beast that is at first terrifying, but ultimately serene and beautiful. Music is by Canadian composer Glenn Buhr with designs by Philip Prowse.

Autumn glory                                                                     6–8 October 2011

(Checkmate | SymphonicVariations | Pineapple Poll)

Three distinguished ballets from the heart of this country’s rich heritage. 

Ninette de Valois’ choreography for Checkmate is a dramatic and stylised mix of lust, trickery and betrayal.  A gallant Red Knight, devoted to his king, is seduced and destroyed by the ruthless Black Queen in de Valois’ story of a game of chess played between love and death.  With a score by Sir Arthur Bliss, and designs by E. McKnight Kauffer, the ballet prophetically anticipated the merciless savagery of World War II and, at nearly 75 years old, is deservedly one of the earliest English ballets still in the repertory.

The pared-down purity of Frederick Ashton’s Symphonic Variations showcases technically brilliant dance from a master choreographer. Danced to César Franck’s exquisitely concise Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra, this ballet for six dancers is hailed as one of the greatest masterpieces of English ballet.

With the aid of a foot-tapping medley of the best of Gilbert and Sullivan, and the comic choreographic touch of John Cranko, Pineapple Poll is a 3-D cartoon classic! When dashing Captain Belaye arrives in town, the female population, Poll included, swoon!  Whilst half-heartedly dodging the attentions of Jasper, the local inn’s Potboy, she finds herself leading a band of desperate, love-lorn ladies. When will the oblivious Captain Belaye notice his crew have mysteriously shrunk and aren’t at home in their beards?

The Nutcracker                                                                  25 November–11 December 2011

Let yourself get swept up in the excitement of Christmas with one of the most famous classical ballets of all time, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.  In this unparalleled, world-famous production by Peter Wright, complete with sets and costumes by John Macfarlane, the designer of the Company’s stunning Cinderella, this is one not to be missed.  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.  After saving 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 wonderful production will stay with everyone who sees it.

Spring season 2012:

Hobson’s Choice                                                               22–25 February 2012

Hobson’s Choice is a story of boots, booze, love and laughter from award-winning choreographer David Bintley.  

Meet Henry Hobson, boot-maker.  If he could see through the alcoholic haze, he would realise he had three beautiful daughters, a talented assistant and a successful business.  If he’s not careful though, he’ll lose the lot. He drinks his profits and refuses to let his daughters marry.

Meet Maggie, Henry’s eldest daughter. A fierce woman, and with her sheer stubbornness, determination and the occasional choice word, she keeps her father and his business sailing in the right direction. Her heart is as hard as her tongue is sharp, but perhaps there is one man who can bring about a most out-of-character change…

Meet Will Mossop, Henry’s talented boot-hand, the unacknowledged success behind Hobson’s business and a man for whom the phrase ‘wouldn’t say boo to a goose’ was surely invented! One night after work, he creeps out from his basement workroom to try on some of the wonderful shoes he has made.

Everything is going swimmingly until Maggie singlehandedly turns the wide-eyed cobbler’s world upside down.  When Hobson’s Choice was premiered in 1989 at the Royal Opera House, David Bintley’s earthy comedy received a standing ovation the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the premiere of Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée in 1960.

With one of those scores you can’t help but whistle by Paul Reade, composer of theme tunes for The Antiques Roadshow and The Flumps, the ballet has remained hugely popular ever since.

Spring passions                                                                29 February – 3 March 2012

(Daphnis and Chloë |The Two Pigeons)

Two uplifting stories of young love’s survival when tested to breaking-point.

Daphnis and Chloë is set on an island paradise in ancient Greece: lost in their love for each other, Daphnis and Chloë struggle against jealous rivals and pillaging pirates to be together, but ultimately only the power of the god Pan can reunite them.  Considered by many to be Maurice Ravel’s greatest orchestral score and with choreography by Frederick Ashton, Daphnis and Chloë is one of the many great ballets from the outstanding legacy left by Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes.  

The Two Pigeons, Frederick Ashton’s poignant Parisian idyll tells of a young man, growing up and finding himself frustrated with the immaturity of his fiancée.  He flies the nest, leaving her to her tears, and falls in with a group of wild gypsies.  The young girl pursues him and battles for his heart with a gypsy beauty. The beauty’s jealous lover beats the young man to within an inch of his life. Realising what he has given up, he returns to his apartment in Paris, into the forgiving arms of his sweetheart. The closing reconciliation pas de deux, which features two live pigeons, is a true tear-jerker and a favourite in galas the world over.  A romantic score by André Messager perfectly compliments the drama and emotion of the dance.

Summer season 2012:

Far from the Madding Crowd                                             20–23 June 2012

Passions run out of control in David Bintley’s balletic adaption of Thomas Hardy’s famous novel.

An enrapturing story of lust, deceit and murder, with one woman at the centre of it all.  Bathsheba Everdene sends ripples through the lives of three men as they compete for her love. The dependable farm-hand Gabriel Oak, the dignified but obsessive William Boldwood and the dashing but deceitful Sergeant Francis Troy all vie for the heart of the woman they love…Bathsheba’s complex relationships with all three leads one to death, one to madness and the other to true love.  

Adorned in stunningly detailed period costumes and sets by designer Hayden Griffin, and with an evocative score by Paul Reade, composer of the Company’s Hobson’s Choice, Far from the Madding Crowd makes a very welcome return to the stage.  If you are a fan of the world of Gone with the Wind, Cranford or The Forsyte Saga, this is a ballet for you.

Summer celebration                                                                    27–30 June 2012

(The Grand Tour | Faster, Higher, Stronger | The Dream)

All aboard for the roaring 20s! The Grand Tour sees our heroine, a doughty American spinster, embarking for Europe.  She can’t believe her luck when she finds herself on board with a feast of famous faces. However, it turns out that Noel Coward, Gertrude Stein and George Bernard Shaw, to name but a few aren’t the friendliest of shipmates. Choreographer of many films and hit Broadway shows, American Joe Layton creates a genuinely funny take on the eccentric celebrities of the 1920s.  Accompanied by unique orchestral renditions of Noel Coward songs, the critically acclaimed The Grand Tour makes a long-overdue return to the stage.

Faster, Higher, Stronger is a brand-new ballet from the award-winning team behind E=mc².  After winning the last-ever ITV South Bank Show Dance award in 2010 with E=mc², Company Director David Bintley embarks on a second collaboration with renowned Australian composer Matthew Hindson. This ballet of speed, power and athleticism will be a fitting creation for the lead up to London 2012.

The course of true love never did run smooth… certainly not in Frederick Ashton’s The Dream where a group of mischievous fairies are involved! Having argued with beautiful Titania, Oberon, king of the fairies, seeks a suitable revenge.  He orders Puck to transform a dopey local peasant into a donkey and cause Titania to fall in love with it.  This he does, but things soon get out of hand – the over-use of a love potion hilariously embroils four poor mortals in the fairies’ games.

Mendelssohn’s tuneful and instantly recognisable music becomes the basis for Ashton’s elfin comedy, as he shows his mastery of dance, theatre and humour.

2011–12 season on-sale dates:

23 March: BRB Friends (season and individual tickets), plus season tickets for previous subscribers (all postal only)

28 March: New season ticket purchasers (postal only)

20 April: Individual tickets for BRB Friends (telephone), Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Groups (ten +)

21 April: On-line individual tickets

26 April: Telephone and in-person individual tickets

All information can be found on Birmingham Royal Ballet’s website

Birmingham Royal Ballet at Birmingham Hippodrome Calendar 2011 – 2012:

Beauty and the Beast

28 September –2 October 2011

Music Glenn Buhr; Choreography David Bintley; Designs Philip Prowse; Lighting Mark Jonathan

Autumn glory

Checkmate | Symphonic Variations | Pineapple Poll

6–8 October 2011

Checkmate: Music Arthur Bliss; Choreography Ninette de Valois; Designs E.McKnight Kauffer; Lighting John B. Read; Symphonic Variations: Music César Franck Choreography Frederick Ashton

Designs Sophie Fedorovitch Lighting John B. Read;

Pineapple Poll: Music Arthur Sullivan arranged by Charles Mackerras; Choreography John Cranko;

Designs Osbert Lancaster; Lighting Neil Austin

The Nutcracker

25 November–11 December 2011

Music Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Choreography PeterWright, Vincent Redmon, Lev Ivanov;

Production Peter Wright; Designs John F. Macfarlane; Lighting David A. Finn

Hobson’s Choice

22–25 February 2012

Music Paul Reade; Choreography David Bintley; Designs Hayden Griffin

(costumes co-designed with Claudia Mayer); Lighting John B. Read

Spring passions

Daphnis and Chloë | The Two Pigeons

29 February–3 March 2012

Daphnis and Chloë: Music Maurice Ravel; Choreography Frederick Ashton;

Designs John Craxton; Lighting Peter Teigen;

The Two Pigeons: Music André Messager; Choreography Frederick Ashton;

Designs Jacques Dupont; Lighting Mark Jonathan

Far from the Madding Crowd

20–23 June 2012

Music Paul Reade; Choreography David Bintley; Designs Hayden Griffin; Lighting Mark Jonathan

Summer celebration

The Grand Tour | Faster, Higher, Stronger | The Dream

27–30 June 2012

The Dream: Music Felix Mendelssohn, arranged by John Lanchbery; Choreography Frederick Ashton;

Designs Peter Farmer; Lighting John B. Read;

The Grand Tour: Music Noel Coward, freely adapted and orchestrated by Hershy Kay;

Choreography Joe Layton; Designs John Conklin; Lighting Peter Teigen;

Faster, Higher, Stronger: Music Matthew Hindson; Choreography David Bintley

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2 Responses to “Birmingham Royal Ballet announces new season 2011-2012”

  1. cloudia Says:

    the thrill of first-nighting!

    Aloha to you
    from Waikiki!

    Comfort Spiral




  2. lori vliegen Says:

    lots of fabulous things coming up……wish i could attend each and every one of them! xo