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Performance diary

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22 - 23 June
Hall for Cornwall
01872 262 466

26 - 27 June
The Lighthouse, Poole
08700 668 701

29 - 30 June
The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
01242 572 573

North East tour 2007


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Introductory notes
BRB's Ballet Mistress, Marion Tait, outlines some of the different interpretations of the story
Read reviews
See what the critics said about previous Birmingham Royal Ballet performances of Solitaire

Take Five

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Introductory notes
Click here for an interview with David Bintley, where he talks about his new jazz work
David Bintley
Find out more about the Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet
Rehearsal photos
Click to see images from the first studio rehearsal with the live band

Pineapple Poll

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Introductory notes
A plot outline for Pineapple Poll
The creation of Pineapple Poll
John Percival looks at the history of the ballet, and those that helped to produce it
Read reviews of previous Birmingham Royal Ballet performances of this work
Children's activities
Printable colouring in and puzzle sheets for younger audience members

The creation of Pineapple Poll

John Cranko had barely reached the age of 23 when, at the beginning of the 1950-51 season, he was appointed resident choreographer (a specially created post) to the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet - predecessor of Birmingham Royal Ballet. But by then he had already shown his promise in a dozen or so creations for five distinct companies of very varied backgrounds and styles in Cape Town (where he began his career) and London. They covered a wide range, although always with a popular bias towards telling stories in dance.

At one extreme was the heavy drama of Sea Change, about the tragedy of a woman widowed when her sailor husband dies in a storm. Even more successful in quite another mood was to the touching light romance of Beauty and the Beast, a miniature drama for just two dancers.

Memorable among the earliest works was the brief but highly entertaining Tritsch-Tratsch, to Johann Strauss's polka of that name. But even this short divertissement had a definite subject, with two sailors competing for the same girl, who capped the dance's sprightly humour by spurning them both. In the brilliance of its dancing and the liveliness of its characterisation, Tritsch-Tratsch foreshadowed the 1951 creation which was to make Cranko a household name.

Arriving in Britain as soon as the journey from his native South Africa became possible after World War Two, Cranko won a place in the company newly formed at Sadler's Wells by Ninette de Valois to replace her longer established troupe which had moved to Covent Garden. The young Cranko was accepted ostensibly because he was strong enough for a difficult lift in one of the new works, but he had never made any secret that his real aim was always to make ballets himself, and he became one of half a dozen would-be choreographers who were given that opportunity. It did not take him long to prove himself more gifted and more determined than the others. (Only Celia Franca, who went on to found the National Ballet of Canada, was to rival him in later achievement.)

He was speedy, too, as he proved when he began his tenure of office by devising and completing at short notice a new work to take the place of an existing piece that had to be dropped for musical reasons.

The substitute creation, Pastorale, a suite of contrasted love dances to a Mozart divertimento, gave no hint of being a makeshift but brought out the individual qualities of almost all the company's leading dancers.

Cranko's new appointment came at an important time. The year 1951 was to be the occasion of the Festival of Britain, intended (rather optimistically) to demonstrate that the doom and gloom of the war and its aftermath were over. The activities in London, for instance, included the opening of the Royal Festival Hall on the previously neglected south bank of the River Thames, a big exhibition on the adjoining space, and a lavish fairground in Battersea Park. People of all kinds wanted to join in the celebrations. Naturally, theatres played their part, but none of the specially commissioned productions could possibly have been more apt than John Cranko's next creation, Pineapple Poll.

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