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Choreographer John Cranko was born on 15 August 1927. Although he was never a Director of The Royal Ballet like Kenneth MacMillan, he did create a lot of memorable works for them, and for Sadlerís Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet).
Although he was born in South Africa, John Cranko has always been considered a British choreographer. He studied dance and also began to choreograph at Capetown University Ballet School, before coming to London to study at the Sadlerís Wells Ballet School (now the Royal Ballet School) in 1945.
One of his very early works, which was a huge success at its first performance in 1951, is Pineapple Poll. One of the great strengths of Crankoís choreography is his use of humour and Pineapple Poll, which BRB will perform in Summer 2007, is an excellent example. It tells the story of Poll, Captain Belaye, Blanche, Jasper and Mrs Dimple. Poll is in love with Captain Belaye, but so is
Blanche (whose chaperone, Mrs Dimple wonít let her get away with anything!). Unfortunately, Belaye doesnít love Poll, but Jasper, does... After much hilarity and many girls dressing up as sailors to sneak away on board ship, it all turns out happily in the end! To see some pictures of Pineapple Poll, click on the thumbnails below:
In 1961, Cranko was offered the opportunity of becoming the director of Stuttgart Ballet, a small German Company. He took the offer up, and left London for Stuttgart, where he spent the rest of his life, changing the company into the world-class company it is today. He continued to choreograph until his tragically early death in 1973 at the age of 45.
BRB has several Cranko ballets in its repertory including Pineapple Poll, Brouillards and The Lady and the Fool. Brouillards is an abstract, but warm and amusing ballet set to nine piano pieces by the French composer Claude Debussy. The title is also the name of the first piece in the ballet and translates into English as 'Fog'. Click on the thumbnails below to see some photos of
The Lady and the Fool is about two clowns, Moondog and Bootface, who meet the Lady in question outside a high society party. She invites them in, where much to the amazement and disgust of her rather snobby friends, she falls in love with Moondog, and he with her. To see some photos of The Lady and the Fool, click on the Thumbnails below: