News
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
Videos
Video: Rory Mackay rehearses the role of Widow Simone
22 April 2014
Video: The Prince of the Pagodas
06 February 2014
Video: Elite Syncopations rehearsals
05 February 2014
Video: La Fille mal gardée
09 January 2014
Video: Rose Adage rehearsals
20 September 2013
Video: Sleeping Beauty fairytale divertissements
04 September 2013
Video: Pavane rehearsals
07 May 2013
Video: Giselle rehearsals
07 May 2013
Video: The Grand Tour rehearsals
06 May 2013
Video: Take Five rehearsals
06 May 2013
Video: David on Lyric Pieces
05 September 2012
Video: Grosse Fuge
03 September 2012
Video: Coppélia rehearsals
05 July 2012
Video: Swan Lake rehearsals
08 May 2012
Video: Elite Syncopations rehearsals
18 April 2012
Video: Printer Jam
18 February 2012
Video: Le Corsaire rehearsals
14 February 2012
Video: David Bintley on Hobson's Choice
06 February 2012
Video: Hobson's Choice trailer
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
Video: Three Sugar Plum Fairies
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

Recapturing a Dream: David Bintley on Tombeaux

27 September 2013

2013 marks the 20th anniversary of David Bintley's Tombeaux, and the tenth anniversary of its most recent performance by Birmingham Royal Ballet. With the piece returning to the stage this autumn, David spoke to Lee Armstrong about the inception of this very personal ballet.

Tombeaux is a very personal work for you, isn't it?

Yes it is, and probably one of the most important pieces of my career. It's a work born out of anger and bitterness but also out of joy and elation. It was an important learning experience; a tribute, both to Frederick Ashton, who had died a few years before, and the British ballet tradition he embodied, which I felt slipping away from me. And in that sense, it became a full stop on one chapter of my life and at the same time, the beginning of another.

Which chapter ended? Where were you in your career?

I was living the dream, wasn't I? I was a Principal Dancer and Resident Choreographer with The Royal Ballet. That's where everyone wants to be don't they? It's Mecca, it's paradise. So why wasn't I happy? I had a dream, reality or not, of what The Royal Ballet was, what it meant, and I had a clear vision of my own place in this great tradition, following in the footsteps of Fred and Madam, my heroes and mentors.

But The Royal Ballet back then was slowly turning in a different direction; the spirit of the company was changing. That's not to criticise what it's become today, or what the Director wanted it to be then, but I just didn't believe in it, couldn't sit back and simply take the wage packet.

Those feelings of frustration and sadness came to a head during the creation of Tombeaux. In fact, I resigned with the piece half-finished. They asked me to stay on to finish it, which I did, and it became my envoi. It was not only a lament, it was not only my sadness at the end of British ballet as I had dreamt it to be, but it was my farewell to all that and the institution that had embodied it.

And the new direction?

Well, it had been mooted to me quite early on that I might consider, at some point in the future, taking over the 'other company'. Jeremy Isaacs spoke to me about two months after I joined The Royal Ballet, but I was horrified! I was a choreographer and I was Resident Choreographer with The Royal Ballet.

Why would I consider directing another company? Five years later however, my growing unhappiness within a Company of people who had become strangers to me, and my own dismay at the person I was becoming, meant that the prospect of direction became a tantalising one, one I welcomed, and a way in which I could resurrect my dream of 'British ballet'.

I came to this exciting realisation during the creation of Tombeaux, and I put those feelings of joy into the ballet too, alongside my negative feelings. Not only had I realised I was in the wrong place, but I now knew how I could put myself in the right place, and it was that that led me to even contemplate direction.

Do you think actually working on the piece helped you make that decision?

Whether it helped me, or pushed me, or it all just happened at once, I don't know. Certainly, I realised I wasn't the person I wanted to be and I needed to make a change before the unhappiness turned to bitterness. Everything did seem to come to a head in the piece, both negative and positive, because the ending is a positive one. That lone figure running off at the end, that's me.

Bidding farewell?

Yes, it's just me and whatever is in front of me. Not many people resign as Principal and Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet.

So where did Tombeaux itself come from, the steps and the music?

I loved William Walton at the time and was listening to a lot of his music.

One day, I was lying on the couch, not thinking about much, and I put on his Hindemith Variations. Immediately, I heard the ŒFred step' [defined by David Vaughan as: posé en arabesque, coupé dessous, small développé à la seconde, pas de bourée, pas de chat].

I heard the rhythm of the Fred step then a little pause ­ like the Fred step then a thought, then the Fred step and a thought. That was it. The structure of the piece virtually came to me in one listen! I had the whole piece in front of me and everything that it meant ­ my feelings about Fred, my frustration at the changes in The Royal Ballet ­ it was all there.

Tombeaux wrote itself as you listened to the music?

I saw the whole piece, right from the very first bit. You don't see exact steps, but the structure was all there. As each variation played, I saw a solo male dancer, then a corps, the entrance of the ballerina, her solo, a duet...

Did the steps come as easily in the studio? In an absract piece like this, what inspires those steps?

By the time you get to the studio, you've usually done a lot of listening, but this wasn't just an abstract piece. Galanteries, for example, is a truly abstract piece. It's Mozart and the steps are all about the galant style, that's it.

So this was different because of all the feeling behind it? It must have been very emotional.

It was. It was initially driven by that Fred step. The whole ballet, in a sense, is a variation on the Fred step. It appears all over the place ­ turned around, in fragments, even literally inverted at one point! That was the technical device that was there, but the piece as a whole is all about the atmosphere and the intense feelings behind it. I chose Bruce Sansom as the male lead because the technical language in it was very British, and he was the epitome of an English male dancer ­ very understated and lyrical ­ like a young Anthony Dowell.

What do you mean when you say the language is British?

I mean that stylistically, it is understated. As well as the Fred step, it uses the rounded Cecchetti arms Fred loved so much. It's also very difficult, very technical and virtuosic, and I use beats a lot, entrechats six and brisées, something British ballet used to be famous for, but not something you see a lot of in new classical choreography these days, but it's all understated. Modest. British!

How did Jasper Conran come to design the piece?

There was a charity gala and there were all sorts of people choreographing and designing little bits ­ Vivienne Westwood did something, Versace did something ­ and I got Jasper. He designed me a single costume for Darcey Bussell to wear in my solo and, for me, it was one of the most successful.

Some of the other designers merely hung one of their ideas on a dancer and they didn't suit so well. Jasper's piece was made and cut on Darcey's body, it was made to be danced in and it made her look stunning. If you have a young Darcey Bussell, you don't want to hide that!

Initially I was quite terrified of Jasper, because he's loud and flamboyant, but I also really liked him. I wanted something simple and elegant, and his work is just that ­ very classic and elegant but also innovative. So, I rang him up one day and basically said, 'Jasper, redesign the tutu for me!'

Had he ever done anything like that before?

No, this was his first ballet, and also my first tutu ballet. He made these gorgeous, velvety tutus, which the girls said were the most comfortable tutus they'd ever worn.

Going to a fashion designer for ballet costumes was quite an unusual thing to do at the time, wasn't it?

I suppose it was, it's normally theatre designers or artists, though Coco Chanel designed Les Biches for Nijinska as far back as 1924. It's been done quite a bit now, but I'd like to think I was one of the first.

I prefer to use people who are not ballet designers ­ people who can bring something new to the table. Sue Blane did her first ballet for me, so did Hayden Griffin, and most recently of course, Rae Smith. The Prince of the Pagodas was her first ballet too.

Who did the idea of dressing the cast in black come from?

That came from me. I went to Jasper and described the ballet as Aurora's funeral. It was a kind of joke of course, Aurora's wedding in The Sleeping Beauty being the pinnacle of classical ballet, but I wanted this to be like her funeral. And it is a funeral in a way ­ a funeral for Fred, and me.

All in all, a pivotal piece for you.

It was the piece that set me on my present course, the course to direction.

It was a complete watershed ­ life-changing. It made me think hard about my professional life, my artistic dreams and aspirations, and what I could do to recapture this departing dream, real or imagined, of the future of British ballet.

ENDS

Birmingham Royal Ballet dance Tombeaux as part of the Penguin Café triple bill during Autumn 2013, in Birmingham, London and Plymouth. For more information, and links to booking details, visit www.brb.org.uk/penguin.

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