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News and features index



News items
What's happening at BRB

Features

Christopher Barron to stand down as Chief Executive
06 November 2014
Flowers of the Forest
25 October 2014
Resurrecting a Miracle
24 October 2014
Kara Larson appointed Director of Marketing and Communications
18 August 2014
Birmingham Royal Ballet's reaction to Arts Council funding announcement
01 July 2014
End of season announcements 2014
30 June 2014
David Bintley steps down as Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Japan.
27 May 2014
Investors in People Gold Standard Award
02 May 2014
Director of The Royal Ballet School, Gailene Stock, dies
01 May 2014
2014-15 season announced
07 April 2014
Interview with William Bracewell
29 March 2014
Interview with Jenna Roberts
28 March 2014
Interview with Yaoqian Shang
26 March 2014
Five Best Ballet Baddies
12 March 2014
Interview with Miki Mizutani
06 March 2014
Dancing in the Blitz
04 March 2014
Emperor's New Steps
26 February 2014
The Return of Yasuo Atsuji
25 February 2014
Tapping into Different Styles of Dance
19 February 2014
Five Theatrical Transformations
17 February 2014
Birmingham Royal Ballet hosts launch of NIDMS Birmingham NHS Clinic
29 November 2013
Nutcracker activity sheets
11 November 2013
Arts Council England's Capital Investment Programme Award
23 October 2013
Recapturing A Dream: David Bintley on Tombeaux
27 September 2013
New dancers 2013
13 September 2013
Lighting Up The Stage
11 September 2013
Learn how to be wicked!
01 September 2013
London premiere of The Prince of the Pagodas announced
19 July 2013
End of season promotions 2013
06 July 2013
Retelling Giselle: Five Changes David made to the production
12 June 2013
2013 Summer season announcements
07 June 2013
Five balletic backstories
07 June 2013
Giselle illustration project announced
15 May 2013
Documentary screening in Nottingham
10 May 2013
Video: Pineapple Poll
07 May 2013
Company wins wins BBC Performing Arts Fund Music Fellowship award
26 April 2013
Carol-Anne Millar retires from the stage
26 April 2013
Five previews of the 2013-14 season
18 April 2013
2013-14 Birmingham diary dates
03 April 2013
10 more Company tweeters
22 February 2013
2013 Choreographics showing
10 January 2013
Matthew Lawrence announces his return to Australia
19 October 2012
10 Company tweeters
19 October 2012
A romantic night out
08 October 2012
Swan Lake art collection unveiled
02 October 2012
Evening of Music and Dance 2013
26 September 2012
Birmingham Royal Ballet at ArtsFest 2012
06 September 2012
Swan Lake Casting 2012
05 September 2012
Company promotions 2012
10 July 2012
Company Announcements 2012
10 July 2012
Five 'transporting' ballet moments
13 June 2012
Adapting Far from the Madding Crowd
13 June 2012
Bintley ballet posters
07 June 2012
Matthew Hindson on his score for new ballet, Faster
06 June 2012
Matthew Lawrence choreographing routine for British five-time champion gymnast ahead of 2012 Olympics
29 May 2012
Five splashes of sunshine
22 May 2012
Work continues on new IDFB ballets
11 April 2012
Cinderella wins Manchester Theatre Award
14 March 2012
Pointe Blank at Six Eight Kafé
05 March 2012
Birmingham 2012-13 Season announced
18 February 2012
Five love triangles
14 February 2012
Company dancer Kit Holder to create new work
09 February 2012
Alexander Campbell to guest in Hobson's Choice
09 February 2012
Five pieces of choreography based on bird movements
27 January 2012
David Bintley wins classical choreography award for Cinderella
26 January 2012
The Lowry’s Youth Dance Ambassadors
12 January 2012
Five on-stage horses
02 December 2011
Barry Wordsworth becomes Music Director Laureate
28 November 2011
1991-2011 Nutcracker posters
21 November 2011
Five onstage Movember moments
18 November 2011
True Light, a new work by Alexander Campkin
09 November 2011
Birmingham Royal Ballet's first audio described performance
16 October 2011
Alexander Grant, a tribute
12 October 2011
Elmhurst Announces Appointment of New Artistic Director
19 September 2011
Royal Ballet Sinfonia collaboration with Birmingham Cathedral
19 September 2011
Artsfest 2011 performance
05 September 2011
Beauty and the Beast to tour to Salford in 2012
25 August 2011
Five mighty mice
24 August 2011
Company promotions 2011
11 July 2011
Leavers and Joiners 2011
11 July 2011
Marion Tait appointed Assistant Director
11 July 2011
Elmhurst starts search for new Artistic Director
05 July 2011
Pointe Blank collection unveiled!
16 June 2011
Birmingham Royal Ballet embarks on new collaborative design project
10 June 2011
Five pieces of art inspired by the Company
29 May 2011
An unusual guide to Coppélia
29 May 2011
Company to proceed with Japanese tour
21 April 2011
Royal Ballet Sinfonia works with Pet Shop Boys
22 March 2011
Cinderella interactive timeline
18 March 2011
Cinderella designs on display in Cardiff
17 March 2011
More ballet for the boys
16 March 2011
Fancy Feet: five ballets danced in unusual footwear
10 February 2011
Company costumes on display in Birmingham store
09 February 2011
Repertory confirmed for 2011 split tour
07 February 2011
Cinderella to be broadcast on Christmas day
02 December 2010
The darker side of Marion Tait
03 November 2010
Evening of Music and Dance 2011
03 November 2010
Birmingham Royal Ballet launches phone/computer widget
19 October 2010
Nao Sakuma interview
12 October 2010
In the Upper Room gallery
12 October 2010
David Bintley and Birmingham Royal Ballet to receive Broad Street Stars at Artsfest 2010
08 September 2010
Jenna Roberts
08 September 2010
Pointes of View
02 September 2010
The Low Down on the Upper Room
02 September 2010
Elmhurst on television
24 August 2010
Romeo and Juliet gallery
10 August 2010
Concerto from the wings gallery
15 July 2010
Christopher Barron on the end of the season
13 July 2010
Company announcements 2010
12 July 2010
Cinderella tour dates announced
12 July 2010
Romeo and Juliet model box gallery
18 June 2010
Company expert working with Cirque du Soleil
17 June 2010
Jamie Bond interview
28 May 2010
Kelly can... ballet
05 May 2010
New ideas for Cinderella
14 April 2010
Royal visitors join Birmingham Royal Ballet for its birthday celebrations
18 March 2010
Extra Swan Lake date added in Birmingham
18 March 2010
Birmingham Royal Ballet backs Birmingham's bid to become City of Culture 2013
26 February 2010
Birmingham Royal Ballet welcomes back Iain Mackay as Principal
25 February 2010
Elmhurst success at Prix de Lausanne
02 February 2010
E=mc² nominated for South Bank Show Award in Dance
19 January 2010
20 year celebrations
15 January 2010
2010-2011 season diary dates
15 January 2010
North/South tour dates and notes 2010
14 January 2010
2010 Evening of Music and Dance to feature first UK look at Aladdin
14 January 2010
2010 SW tour introductory notes
13 January 2010
2010 N/E tour introductory notes
13 January 2010
New production of Cinderella announced for winter 2010
07 December 2009
Carol-Anne Millar
04 December 2009
The Sugar Plum Fairies part two
02 December 2009
Forthcoming Freefall performance
01 December 2009
The Sugar Plum Fairies part one
27 November 2009
Birmingham Royal Ballet's Christmas Choir Factor at Birmingham Hippodrome
22 October 2009
Dual controls
01 October 2009
We can be heroes
11 September 2009
Christopher Rodgers-Wilson
10 September 2009
E=mc² Costume designs
07 September 2009
Robert Parker
04 September 2009
Robert Heindel exhibition
03 September 2009
Special guest for Cyrano
19 August 2009
Trailer for Mao's Last Dancer - featuring Company Principal Chi Cao
19 August 2009
2010 USA tour confirmed
06 August 2009
Quantum Leaps introductory notes
06 August 2009
Cyrano Act I set designs and plot preview
30 July 2009
Video: Nutcracker technical preparations
23 July 2009
Two Pigeons behind-the-scenes feature on BBC Radio WM
18 June 2009
Freefall June 2009
15 June 2009
The Two Pigeons introductory notes
01 June 2009
Mozartiana introductory notes
01 June 2009
The Dream introductory notes
02 June 2009
Sir Fred and Mr B.
29 May 2009
Insight day spaces still available
22 May 2009
Easter 2010 London season confirmed
14 May 2009
David Bintley on the 2009-10 season
11 May 2009
Garry Stewart video interview
01 May 2009
Galanteries Introductory notes
30 April 2009
2009-10 season announced
09 April 2009
The Dance House introductory notes
03 April 2009
Elite Syncopations: a history
01 April 2009
Freefall update winter 2009
26 March 2009
Cyrano character guides
13 March 2009
Sylvia Pizzicato rehearsal
09 March 2009
The fruits of a friendship
06 March 2009
China 2009 tour blog
19 February 2009
David Bintley's Sylvia diary
17 February 2009
Enigma Variations Troyte rehearsal video
13 February 2009
No Evening of Music and Dance 2009
12 February 2009
China 2009 video
29 January 2009
Elmhurst to hold open auditions in China
12 January 2009
Happy Christmas from Birmingham Royal Ballet!
22 December 2008
Sylvia photoshoot video
10 December 2008
Gaylene Cummerfield
06 December 2008
Nutcracker technical preparations video
04 December 2008
David Bintley on 2008's Claras
14 November 2008
New Beauty and the Beast clip added
29 October 2008
New Nutcracker performance added!
28 October 2008
Proud to be in Birmingham
24 October 2008
Welcome to the jungle
22 October 2008
David Bintley on the story of Sylvia
22 October 2009
David Bintley on his Sylvia reworking
22 October 2008
Robert Parker on Enigma Variations
22 October 2008
Firebird sets off smoke alarm
22 October 2008
Freefall at Artsfest 2008
05 October 2008
The Beasts within
04 October 2008
Robert Heindel print up for auction
26 September 2008
Beauty and the Beast clip now on-line
07 September 2008
Lei Zhao
06 September 2008
Kristen McGarrity
06 September 2008
On-line auction 2008
04 September 2008
Robert Parker to rejoin the Company
20 August 2008
Behind the scenes: Department for Learning
18 August 2008
David Bintley on choreographic development
28 July 2008
David Bintley on the programming process
23 July 2008
Dancer galleries updated
23 July 2008
Barry Wordsworth leaves Birmingham Royal Ballet
18 July 2008
Company announcements, summer 2008
15 July 2008
2007-08 comes to a close
14 July 2008
New faces look back
14 July 2008
Birmingham Royal Ballet on Classic FM
08 July 2008
Notes on Petrushka (full version)
04 July 2008
The history of Le Baiser de la fée
04 July 2008
Notes on Card Game
04 July 2008
Desmond Kelly Gala
04 July 2008
Desmond Kelly Gala raffle results
04 July 2008
David Bintley takes on role with New National Theatre, Tokyo
26 June 2008
Christopher Barron adds to praise for Desmond Kelly
26 June 2008
Jonathan Payn on BBC Radio York, Spring 2008
18 June 2008
David Bintley on Desmond Kelly
14 June 2008
On sale date for autumn performances in London
13 June 2008
Ambra Vallo on Giselle
13 June 2008
Desmond Kelly
06 June 2008
Individual tickets for 2008-09 Birmingham season on sale 2 June
01 June 2008
David Bintley to speak at Ikon Gallery, Wednesday 4 June 2008
30 May 2008
London autumn dates confirmed
29 May 2008
The Fairy's Kiss
13 May 2008
The history of Card Game
10 May 2008
David Bintley praises increased fitness standards
09 May 2008
Petrushka
09 May 2008
2008 split tour comes to a close
08 May 2008
Desmond Kelly OBE Appointed as Artistic Director of Elmhurst
07 May 2008
Stravinsky: the real deal
03 May 2008
Your personal profile
22 April 2008
Swan Lake greets Secretary of State for Culture
10 April 2008
2008-09 repertory announced
04 April 2008
Dancer promotions, spring 2008
02 April 2008
Behind-the-scenes: wardrobe
02 April 2008
South-West tour notes
20 March 2008
2008-09 season
20 March 2008
North-East tour notes
19 March 2008
Anniek Soobroy
10 March 2008
Sunderland autumn season on sale from Tuesday 11 March
07 March 2008
2008-09 Birmingham dates announced
07 March 2008
Céline Gittens
07 March 2008
Desmond Kelly Gala
01 March 2008
Iain Mackay and Silvia Jimenez to leave Company after Swan Lake
18 February 2008
Colin Towns Mask Orchestra
14 February 2008
The light fantastic
12 February 2008
New Bintley ballet to premiere in Japan
11 February 2008
Dominic Antonucci
11 February 2008
Desmond Kelly and Marion Tait judge Young Dancer Awards regional heat
05 February 2008
Swan Lake debuts confirmed
04 February 2008
All South-West and North-East tour dates on sale now
01 February 2008
Company indicates further international intent
31 January 2008
New dancers join Birmingham Royal Ballet
31 January 2008
Japan 2008 desktop wallpaper
11 January 2008
Dual success at National Dance Awards
23 January 2008
Freefall season review
15 December 2007
Christmas season comes to a close
14 December 2007
Behind the scenes: Diana Childs
07 December 2007
Japan 2008
07 December 2007
Fantasy and Reality
01 December 2007
An Entertainment of Genius
01 December 2007
Beauty and the Beast
19 November 2007
Stravinsky autumn 2008
19 September 2007
April/May tour 2008
15 November 2007
Michael Corder: initial stages
13 November 2007
Birmingham Royal Ballet appears on BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing
01 November 2007
Michael Corder visit
01 November 2007
Birmingham Royal Ballet awarded for 'Outstanding Achievement in Dance'
22 October 2007
Angela Paul
09 October 2007
All that jazz
08 October 2007
Cardiff 2008
05 October 2007
Enjoy Strictly dancing?
03 October 2007
New arrivals 2007
24 September 2007
Tyrone Singleton
21 September 2007
Company to return to Cardiff
15 September 2007
John Craxton oversees Daphnis and Chloë amends
20 August 2007
Oxford 2008 dates now on sale
11 August 2007
Edward II
10 August 2007
Strictly dancing
10 August 2007
Take Five costume rehearsals
22 June 2007
BRB dancers guesting at Royal Festival Hall
22 June 2007
Mary Goodhew: the making of a dancer
12 June 2007
Michael O'Hare
01 June 2007
Travelling to see Birmingham Royal Ballet
08 June 2007
Robert Parker's final performances confirmed
31 May 2007
Ballet on the buses
23 May 2007
Dynamic Dance designers
14 May 2007
Company launches 2007-08 subscription season in Birmingham
18 April 2007
200708 Season
28 March 2007
Sunderland autumn season goes on sale
12 March 2007
Plymouth autumn season announced
27 February 2007
Additional choreographics participant confirmed
22 February 2007
The show must go on!
16 February 2007
Choreographics participants confirmed
07 February 2007
Carl Davis interview
07 February 2007
Pas de deux - Stravinsky and Balanchine
29 January 2007
Guests artists for spring season
20 January 2007
Cyrano: setting the scene
29 December 2006
Cyrano receives additional firepower
26 December 2006
Cyrano swordplay
22 December 2006
Further new choreography for 2007
21 December 2006
Curtain falls on most successful Nutcracker yet
14 December 2006
2007 split tour confirmed
13 December 2006
BRB dancers to choreograph in 2007
06 December 2006
Evening of Music and Dance 2007
07 December 2006
USA performances revealed
07 December 2006
Ballet Hoo! rebroadcast
05 December 2006
Nutcracker breaks own box office record
01 December 2006
All Spring 2007 tour dates now on sale
01 December 2006
BRB receives nominations for classical output
22 November 2006
Ballet Hoo! Phase 3
20 November 2006
Cyrano: early stages
20 October 2006
Ballet Hoo! graduation
19 October 2006
Nutcracker gala presentation
09 October 2006
Ballet Hoo! aftershow interviews
07 October 2006
BRB nominated for TMA Award
06 October 2006
Lady MacMillan's Ballet Hoo! speech
30 September 2006
David Bintley's Ballet Hoo! speech
30 September 2006
David Bintley leads Ballet Hoo! applause
29 September 2006
Ballet Hoo! - the final stage
28 September 2006
The Acrobat and the Ringmaster
20 April 2006
Transaction Charges
14 July 2006
Company choreographics now on sale
11 December 2006

 
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Musicality (continued)



From an accompanying pianist's point of view:



'One of the worst, if not the worst misconceptions about playing for dance is that the pianist should play like a metronome ...the end result is dancers that are so used to the way the piece of music will be played that they stop listening.' (Graham Dickson-Place) Dame Ninette de Valois tells of the classes she took with Cecchetti in London, where the musical input was Cecchetti's whistling and the tap of his cane. 'He had a fixed tune for each particular step or exercise and this tune was whistled week in and week out. To execute battements frappés every day for three years to the overture from William Tell tried my loyalities rather severely towards the end.' Joan Lawson (1984) also asserts that students 'do not listen properly if they dance continually to the same set pieces that are recommended with a syllabus.'

Adolphe Adam's score for Giselle provides leitmotifs which aid the ballerina’s interpretation of the changing character of Giselle as the story unfolds. In ballets like Les Sylphides (Chopin), Symphonic Variations (Franck) and Serenade (Tchaikovsky) there is no plot to guide the dancer. These pieces are often quoted as tests of a dancer's musicality, for in them the music alone constitutes the libretto, and the atmosphere must be conveyed by the dancer. Margot Fonteyn’s comment, 'If I count, I can't hear the music, and if I get nervous, I forget the count! Then I'm really lost', underscores the message that it is necessary to 'feel' the music in order to react to it.

Corps de ballet work exposes any individual variations in the timing and execution of movements. The unity of response to the music by the Kirov Ballet's corps de ballet is traceable to their common schooling at the Vaganova Academy, where every student also had eight years of piano lessons. Western ballet companies tend to recruit internationally and all too frequently the variances in corps musicality are apparent. I have noticed that the musicality of students' teachers can often be surmised in the work that groups of candidates present when auditioning for vocational schools. When Barbara Newman interviewed Mark Morris he said – 'I insist that people begin on time and end when the music does, most people don’t listen to the music in class'. He added, that exercises that do not begin on the beat but start with 'and', are more difficult to time correctly because they have not anticipated and prepared for action, and dancers 'come in' late. 'Processing information takes time. If the dancer can predict the time of occurrence of the next beat, then the cognitive operations involved in response selection and execution can be initiated before the sound occurs... Without anticipation, the motor planning is late, causing the movement to be late' (P. Côté-Lawrence, 2000). In the same vein, Eric Franklin also maintains that by focusing on a movement a split second before initiating it, the movement will be clearer.

I end with a cri de coeur from Graham Dickson-Place, an RAD pianist who begs dance teachers on behalf of all accompanists:
1. Do not ignore your musician.
3. Do not talk over the music.
4. Do not expect your musician to play without suitable breaks.
5. Try to break up long/repeated exercises with corrections to give pianists time to recover.
6. Give clear marking, indicating light and shade, to enable the musician to select music to suit the teacher's purpose and students will appreciate better the nuances of the exercise.

Mr Dickson-Place concludes, 'I am not convinced that playing louder has ever helped a dancer dance 'in time'; but playing musically and inspiringly will certainly help the responsive student to become 'musical''. For teachers using CDs, mini discs and MP3 players the range of music to offer students grows with technical advances. Perhaps dance organisations and societies could give more guidance and run courses to inform dance teachers about what is available and affordable.

In the words of Carlo Blasis to students from the 17th Century 'their ear will give them mastery of movement and time and their cadenced steps will be in perfect rhythm with the tune.'

Mary Goodhew

Click here to return to the Making of a dancer index page.

First published in Dancing Times, February 2007, reproduced with the kind permission of all involved.

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Musicality (continued)

From an accompanying pianist's point of view:



'One of the worst, if not the worst misconceptions about playing for dance is that the pianist should play like a metronome ...the end result is dancers that are so used to the way the piece of music will be played that they stop listening.' (Graham Dickson-Place) Dame Ninette de Valois tells of the classes she took with Cecchetti in London, where the musical input was Cecchetti's whistling and the tap of his cane. 'He had a fixed tune for each particular step or exercise and this tune was whistled week in and week out. To execute battements frappés every day for three years to the overture from William Tell tried my loyalities rather severely towards the end.' Joan Lawson (1984) also asserts that students 'do not listen properly if they dance continually to the same set pieces that are recommended with a syllabus.'

Adolphe Adam's score for Giselle provides leitmotifs which aid the ballerina’s interpretation of the changing character of Giselle as the story unfolds. In ballets like Les Sylphides (Chopin), Symphonic Variations (Franck) and Serenade (Tchaikovsky) there is no plot to guide the dancer. These pieces are often quoted as tests of a dancer's musicality, for in them the music alone constitutes the libretto, and the atmosphere must be conveyed by the dancer. Margot Fonteyn’s comment, 'If I count, I can't hear the music, and if I get nervous, I forget the count! Then I'm really lost', underscores the message that it is necessary to 'feel' the music in order to react to it.

Corps de ballet work exposes any individual variations in the timing and execution of movements. The unity of response to the music by the Kirov Ballet's corps de ballet is traceable to their common schooling at the Vaganova Academy, where every student also had eight years of piano lessons. Western ballet companies tend to recruit internationally and all too frequently the variances in corps musicality are apparent. I have noticed that the musicality of students' teachers can often be surmised in the work that groups of candidates present when auditioning for vocational schools. When Barbara Newman interviewed Mark Morris he said – 'I insist that people begin on time and end when the music does, most people don’t listen to the music in class'. He added, that exercises that do not begin on the beat but start with 'and', are more difficult to time correctly because they have not anticipated and prepared for action, and dancers 'come in' late. 'Processing information takes time. If the dancer can predict the time of occurrence of the next beat, then the cognitive operations involved in response selection and execution can be initiated before the sound occurs... Without anticipation, the motor planning is late, causing the movement to be late' (P. Côté-Lawrence, 2000). In the same vein, Eric Franklin also maintains that by focusing on a movement a split second before initiating it, the movement will be clearer.

I end with a cri de coeur from Graham Dickson-Place, an RAD pianist who begs dance teachers on behalf of all accompanists:
1. Do not ignore your musician.
3. Do not talk over the music.
4. Do not expect your musician to play without suitable breaks.
5. Try to break up long/repeated exercises with corrections to give pianists time to recover.
6. Give clear marking, indicating light and shade, to enable the musician to select music to suit the teacher's purpose and students will appreciate better the nuances of the exercise.

Mr Dickson-Place concludes, 'I am not convinced that playing louder has ever helped a dancer dance 'in time'; but playing musically and inspiringly will certainly help the responsive student to become 'musical''. For teachers using CDs, mini discs and MP3 players the range of music to offer students grows with technical advances. Perhaps dance organisations and societies could give more guidance and run courses to inform dance teachers about what is available and affordable.

In the words of Carlo Blasis to students from the 17th Century 'their ear will give them mastery of movement and time and their cadenced steps will be in perfect rhythm with the tune.'

Mary Goodhew

Click here to return to the Making of a dancer index page.

First published in Dancing Times, February 2007, reproduced with the kind permission of all involved.