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Five pieces of choreography based on bird movements
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The Lowry’s Youth Dance Ambassadors
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Five on-stage horses
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True Light, a new work by Alexander Campkin
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Birmingham Royal Ballet's first audio described performance
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Royal Ballet Sinfonia collaboration with Birmingham Cathedral
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Artsfest 2011 performance
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Beauty and the Beast to tour to Salford in 2012
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Five mighty mice
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Leavers and Joiners 2011
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Marion Tait appointed Assistant Director
11 July 2011
Elmhurst starts search for new Artistic Director
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Pointe Blank collection unveiled!
16 June 2011
Birmingham Royal Ballet embarks on new collaborative design project
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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
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Royal Ballet Sinfonia works with Pet Shop Boys
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Cinderella interactive timeline
18 March 2011
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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
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Repertory confirmed for 2011 split tour
07 February 2011
Cinderella to be broadcast on Christmas day
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The darker side of Marion Tait
03 November 2010
Evening of Music and Dance 2011
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Nao Sakuma interview
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In the Upper Room gallery
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Jenna Roberts
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Pointes of View
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Romeo and Juliet gallery
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Concerto from the wings gallery
15 July 2010
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Cinderella tour dates announced
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Romeo and Juliet model box gallery
18 June 2010
Company expert working with Cirque du Soleil
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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
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Extra Swan Lake date added in Birmingham
18 March 2010
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Birmingham Royal Ballet welcomes back Iain Mackay as Principal
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02 February 2010
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20 year celebrations
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Carol-Anne Millar
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Dual controls
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We can be heroes
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Christopher Rodgers-Wilson
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E=mc² Costume designs
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Robert Parker
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Robert Heindel exhibition
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Special guest for Cyrano
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Trailer for Mao's Last Dancer - featuring Company Principal Chi Cao
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Quantum Leaps introductory notes
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Cyrano Act I set designs and plot preview
30 July 2009
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Sir Fred and Mr B.
29 May 2009
Insight day spaces still available
22 May 2009
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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
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19 February 2009
David Bintley's Sylvia diary
17 February 2009
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13 February 2009
No Evening of Music and Dance 2009
12 February 2009
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29 January 2009
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Gaylene Cummerfield
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Welcome to the jungle
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David Bintley on his Sylvia reworking
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Firebird sets off smoke alarm
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Freefall at Artsfest 2008
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The Beasts within
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Lei Zhao
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Kristen McGarrity
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Behind the scenes: Department for Learning
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Dancer galleries updated
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2007-08 comes to a close
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New faces look back
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Birmingham Royal Ballet on Classic FM
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Notes on Petrushka (full version)
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The history of Le Baiser de la fée
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Notes on Card Game
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Desmond Kelly Gala
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26 June 2008
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26 June 2008
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18 June 2008
David Bintley on Desmond Kelly
14 June 2008
On sale date for autumn performances in London
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Ambra Vallo on Giselle
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Desmond Kelly
06 June 2008
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01 June 2008
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The Fairy's Kiss
13 May 2008
The history of Card Game
10 May 2008
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Petrushka
09 May 2008
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08 May 2008
Desmond Kelly OBE Appointed as Artistic Director of Elmhurst
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Stravinsky: the real deal
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Your personal profile
22 April 2008
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10 April 2008
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Behind-the-scenes: wardrobe
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South-West tour notes
20 March 2008
2008-09 season
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Anniek Soobroy
10 March 2008
Sunderland autumn season on sale from Tuesday 11 March
07 March 2008
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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
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31 January 2008
New dancers join Birmingham Royal Ballet
31 January 2008
Japan 2008 desktop wallpaper
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Behind the scenes: Diana Childs
07 December 2007
Japan 2008
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Fantasy and Reality
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An Entertainment of Genius
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Beauty and the Beast
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Stravinsky autumn 2008
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Michael Corder: initial stages
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Michael Corder visit
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All that jazz
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Enjoy Strictly dancing?
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Edward II
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Strictly dancing
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Take Five costume rehearsals
22 June 2007
BRB dancers guesting at Royal Festival Hall
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Mary Goodhew: the making of a dancer
12 June 2007
Michael O'Hare
01 June 2007
Travelling to see Birmingham Royal Ballet
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Robert Parker's final performances confirmed
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Ballet on the buses
23 May 2007
Dynamic Dance designers
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18 April 2007
200708 Season
28 March 2007
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22 February 2007
The show must go on!
16 February 2007
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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
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Ballet Hoo! Phase 3
20 November 2006
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Ballet Hoo! graduation
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Ballet Hoo! aftershow interviews
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BRB nominated for TMA Award
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Lady MacMillan's Ballet Hoo! speech
30 September 2006
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30 September 2006
David Bintley leads Ballet Hoo! applause
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Ballet Hoo! - the final stage
28 September 2006
The Acrobat and the Ringmaster
20 April 2006
Transaction Charges
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Company choreographics now on sale
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Videos
Video: Rory Mackay rehearses the role of Widow Simone
22 April 2014
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06 February 2014
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05 February 2014
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09 January 2014
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20 September 2013
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04 September 2013
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07 May 2013
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07 May 2013
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06 May 2013
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06 May 2013
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05 September 2012
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03 September 2012
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05 July 2012
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08 May 2012
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18 April 2012
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18 February 2012
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14 February 2012
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06 February 2012
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31 January 2012
Video: Hobson's Choice excerpt
31 January 2012
Video: The Two Pigeons rehearsal
23 January 2012
Video: Beauty and the Beast, Act I pas de deux
01 January 2012
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20 November 2011
Video: Clara and the Nutcracker Prince in rehearsal
21 November 2011
Video: The Nutcracker trailer
21 November 2011
Video: Five favourites from 2010-11
03 August 2011
Video: Five 2011-12 Birmingham season previews
03 August 2011
Video: The costumes of Coppélia
13 May 2011
Video: Peter Wright's productions of the classics
17 March 2011
Video: Allegri diversi rehearsal
29 October 2010
Video: Romeo and Juliet studio rehearsals
25 June 2010
Video: Theme and Variations studio rehearsals
18 June 2010
Video: Romeo and Juliet studio rehearsals
16 June 2010
Video: Swan Lake studio rehearsals #2
06 May 2010
Video: Brouillards studio rehearsals
01 May 2010
Video: Swan Lake studio rehearsals
28 April 2010
Video: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue studio rehearsals
31 December 2013
Video: Sleeping Beauty rehearsals
17 March 2010
Video: Bluebird studio rehearsals
12 February 2010
Video: Early Aladdin studio rehearsals
04 February 2010
Video: The Nutcracker Act I, studio rehearsal
06 November 2009
Video: Cyrano studio rehearsals
29 October 2009
Video: David Bintley's E=mc² diary
20 August 2009
Video: Carl Davis on the score for Cyrano
06 August 2009
Video: The Nutcracker, studio rehearsals, 2008
29 July 2009
Video: The Nutcracker, technical preparations
23 July 2009
Video: David Bintley and Robert Parker on Cyrano's nose
19 June 2009
Video: Dame Antoinette Sibley and Sir Anthony Dowell taking rehearsals
08 June 2009
Video: The Two Pigeons rehearsal
03 June 2009
Video: Kangaroo Rat rehearsal
24 February 2009
Video: Chi Cao interview part two
13 February 2009
Video: Chi Cao interview
27 January 2009
More online

The darker side of Marion Tait

03 November 2010

'Marion's building quite a reputation for playing rather vicious women!' smiled Director David Bintley at this year's 20th anniversary galas, before remarking that the delightful devilment that she portrays on stage couldn't be further from the warmth and kindness of her real off-stage character.

As she creates yet another petrifying part for David's new production of Cinderella, here are the five Marion Tait characters that we wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of!

1. Carabosse
The Sleeping Beauty




It was Peter Wright, then Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, who suggested that Marion take on the role of the Wicked Fairy in his own production of The Sleeping Beauty.

Until that moment she had never considered the part, which sees her curse the young Princess in retaliation for being shunned from the birthday celebrations. However her indomitable performances have since won her legions of new fans and garnered her countless column inches from critics singing her praises. David Bintley describes her turn as the wicked fairy as 'evil personified'.

With every new season of the ballet, Marion continues to develop the role. 'When Carabosse first arrives on stage, in the opening scene at Aurora's Christening, she's obviously trying to contain her anger,' she explains. 'Then has these sudden outbursts.

'Over the years I've sort of peeled it down and down and hunted for more smouldering, still moments. If you're agitated all the time it's just a frenetic mad woman and she's not that at all.

She's building up inside until this pressure cooker goes off and she launches into the King and Queen saying "You forgot to invite me!"'

2. Grandmère
Beauty and the Beast




Right from the off, David Bintley was keen that the animal inhabitants of the beast's castle would act as a parallel to the oafish family that Belle had left behind – with the latter exhibiting the more 'beastly' behaviour.

As such, her father's house is filled with charlatans, harridans and fair-weather friends, the jewel in the crown being the cantankerous Grandmère.

'Everyone just forgives her bad behaviour because she's old!' smiles Marion. 'I think that must be one of the privileges of being old - you can do exactly as you like and no-one tells you off. Heaven knows what other bad habits she's got!'

Physically the role is the most demanding of the list. 'It makes me laugh because even though I'm small, I have to stoop further to make myself as short as possible. It's agony on my back!'

Beauty and the Beast can also prove agonizing for whoever has to play Belle's father. An altercation between him and Grandmère sees the tiny tyrant administer a sharp blow to her partner's shin with a walking stick.

'When we first created the piece it was actually Desmond [Kelly] playing the role and I gave him such a clonk!' laughs Marion. 'It was real stick on bone and he was in absolute agony. Desmond used to say "I'll be fine!" but he soon got wise to it. Since then whoever plays the father wears a shin pad which of course makes a wonderful noise!'

3. The Stepmother
Cinderella




When David created Cinderella, he naturally called on Marion for one of the piece's most pivotal roles. Speaking during the ballet's creation, Marion revealed that the Stepmother would be a much more subtle creation than the others on this list.

'She's a very different character,' she said at the time. 'The thing that worries me is that she is the most evil of evil people - sinisterly evil.'

'Wicked characters are great, like any character role you just have to make sure that you inhabit that person and then hopefully everything comes out naturally and you behave as that person would genuinely behave.

'David [Bintley] has given me a pointer as to how he originally envisaged the Wicked Stepmother,' she reveals. 'He actually said he loves the restraint of the stepmother in the Disney version. I actually hadn't seen it, but he told me that she speaks very quietly, and she never raises her voice.' Marion beams with delight before adding: 'that immediately gives me shivers just thinking about it! It's very different from all these other characters that I've played.

'It's probably going to be an example of the Michael Caine school of acting - one eyebrow, and one move of the eyes rather than the whole head. Hopefully if you've got the audience gripped you'll draw them in and they will see every little movement. There won't be huge gestures or huge stamping, stomping, angry moments. It will be much more calm and sinister than that – at least to begin with!'

4. Lizzie Borden
Fall River Legend




Lizzie Borden was the infamous prime suspect at the centre of a murder trial in the late 1800s, following the grizzly murders of her father and stepmother with a hatchet. While she was eventually acquitted, nobody else was ever arrested or charged with the killings, and many believe Lizzie to be guilty of the violent crime, fuelled by speculation over her mental health.

'It's called Fall River Legend because it happened in Fall River,' Marion explains of the ballet based on the events. 'It was Agnes de Mille's choreography and Peter [Wright] knew it. Peter has this fantastic repository of repertoire that he knows. That's what being in theatre for so long does!'

In terms of the central character, Marion believes her motives were quite simple. 'Lizzie Borden was nutty!' she grins. 'She had gremlins inside her head. You can't equate her to all the others in this list because I guess she just had voices talking to her.'

'Another of the central figures is Lizzie's stepmother who's just so disturbing,' explains Marion. 'She creeps around and she has this one mannerism in particular: she keeps stroking her face with her fourth finger, like she's scratching an itch.'

Marion explains how it was this creepy mother figure who no doubt led Lizzie to turn out so strangely, exclaiming: 'Lizzie Borden is Cinderella but without the fairytale ending! I've just realised that!'

5. Marion Tait, Disciplinarian


Finally, as Ballet Mistress for Birmingham Royal Ballet, there are (admittedly very rare) occasions when Marion has to turn 'bad cop'. On stage as Carabosse she can unleash a stare that almost turns a King and Queen to stone, but as Ballet Mistress she finds rapping a dancer's knuckles significantly more difficult.

'I find it upsetting that it's necessary, but thankfully it's a very, very rare occasion when I have to properly tell someone off. Because I'm normally quite jovial, I think that the minute my serious face comes on, they know!'

'It'll normally be for just careless little things - somebody who's not giving their all at the back of a mime scene while one of their colleagues is giving their all right in front of them. It just sickens me to think that someone hasn't got the conscience to do their utmost for that performance.'

The ballet world is traditionally considered to be quite dog-eat-dog in nature, with dancers placed under immense pressure to perform at an optimum level. But if that were ever the case, Marion feels that things are very different now.

'It's changed a great deal for the better,' she says, 'specifically in the way that people are treated. Years ago, if you made a mistake, you would be shamed into never daring to do anything wrong ever again! But I believe we actually get better performances by taking a more nurturing approach, by being encouraging. All of our dancers want to give the best performance they possibly can, they just sometimes need guidance as to how that should happen.'

'I can remember when we used to perform in London the Ballet Staff would all stress to us that we would be dancing in front of the national critics; I didn't feel it was necessary to say that! The dancers know that - they're not going to do their worst ever performance on opening night in London are they?! They all want it to be a great show, and that's the same every night, wherever we are.'
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