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31 days to go

Although there are now two Royal Ballet Companies, Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet, both companies stem from the same place, the Vic-Wells Ballet, founded at Sadlerís Wells Theatre in 1931, by Ninette de Valois.

De Valois wanted to establish a strong classical tradition, so the Company performed its first classical work, Act II of Swan Lake, in 1932. In 1934, a younf dancer called Margot Fonteyn joined the company. She danced her first important role in Frederick Ashtonís ballet Rio Grande in 1935, and went on to become one of the most famous dancers in the world. The companyís first tour abroad was in 1937 with a visit to Paris, and it gave its first performance of perhaps the greatest of classical ballets, The Sleeping Beauty, in 1939.

During the war, the company toured the country extensively. Many male dancers were away on war service, and pointe shoes and costumes were in short supply, but the company still managed to stage some new works. They were almost trapped on a tour on Holland when the country was invaded in 1940, and had to leave behind all their sets and costumes.

In 1941, the company changed its name to Sadlerís Wells Ballet, and after the war, took up residence in the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Now that Sadlerís Wells Ballet had a permanent home, a touring company, intended to nurture the talents of young dancers was created. In 1946 the Sadlerís Wells Opera Ballet was established and based at Sadlerís Wells Theatre, changing its name to Sadlerís Wells Theatre Ballet in 1947.

In 1956, both Companies were awarded Royal Charters. From this point, Sadlerís Wells Ballet (the company based at the Royal Opera House) changed its name to The Royal Ballet. A year later in 1957, Sadlerís Wells Theatre Ballet (the second company) left its base at Sadlerís Wells Theatre and was renamed the Royal Ballet Touring Company. In 1970, the touring company was disbanded and briefly replaced by the Royal Ballet New Group under the direction of Peter Wright.

In 1976, the touring company was renamed Sadlerís Wells Royal Ballet, and still under Peter Wrightís direction, was established as a permanent company of 50 dancers based back at Sadlerís Wells Theatre. In 1990, Peter Wright and Sadlerís Wells Royal Ballet moved to a new base, purpose built and attached to the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre in Birmingham, and became Birmingham Royal Ballet. Peter Wright handed over the Directorship of BRB to David Bintley in 1995, which brings us to the present day, when BRB is the largest UK dance company based outside London, and has an international reputation for excellence in classical and modern ballet.



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