A new partnership

A brand-new partnership has been confirmed between Birmingham Royal Ballet and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, which will see the two established companies combine creative ingenuity to stage new dance works in the heart of Birmingham city centre. The partnership will be launched with four shows for live audiences in October, following the recent announcement by the government allowing socially distanced performances to happen in theatres.  

The world premiere performances of Lazuli Sky, choreographed by Will Tuckett, as part of a triple bill of ballet with live music from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia will take place at The REP on 22 – 24 October, with around 150 tickets on sale to the public for each of four shows. The show will also be filmed at The REP for broadcast in November via ‘pay per view’ media to audiences unable to attend the live shows.

This new partnership has enabled Birmingham Royal Ballet and The REP to work together to find a way to entertain audiences and help revive Birmingham’s cultural life after lockdown.

Carlos Acosta, Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, says:

‘After joining Birmingham Royal Ballet at the beginning of the year, I set about making new friends in the city, knowing that collaboration was key to a successful and creative art form. Sean Foley, also new to the job of Artistic Director of The REP, and I spoke about an exciting cross-sector partnership, using the best of our creative networks in theatre and in dance to develop new work. It became clear that we shared a vision and commitment to making Birmingham the greatest city in the Arts.

'This year, Birmingham Royal Ballet celebrates 30 years of working in the heart of Birmingham. Whilst the Company continues to enjoy strong bonds with its home venue, Birmingham Hippodrome, our work to bring back large-scale, classic ballets with them is not yet complete, and will require government approval. The new partnership between Birmingham Royal Ballet and The REP will complement the relationship with Birmingham Hippodrome, and enhance creative development throughout this great city.'

Sean Foley, Artistic Director of The REP says:

'Carlos Acosta and I are both honoured to be leading amazing cultural institutions in a great international city. It is part of our job to amplify, celebrate, and create work about that city, delivering excitement and artistic excellence for the people of Birmingham and wider afield - both nationally, and internationally.

'Particularly now, in order to survive and thrive, the Arts must find new and inventive ways to collaborate and create new works. The REP has an unrivalled pioneering history in UK theatre - from staging the world’s first modern dress Shakespeare, to being a national leader in community development and creative learning, it has always been a theatre that seeks the cultural collisions that make extraordinary art for ordinary people. This is the beginning of an exciting partnership that will encompass full-scale productions, and new ways to create audiences together. Combining The REP’s own history with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s reputation for world-class ballet gives us both hope that we can help establish Birmingham as the very best city for theatre, for dance and the creative arts.'

LAZULI SKY

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s autumn mixed bill will be staged at The REP from 22 to 24 October, with tickets on sale via birmingham-rep.co.uk, before heading to Sadler’s Wells in London from 29 to 31 October, with further information and booking details available in mid-September from sadlerswells.com.

Family groups will be able to sit together, but will be protected by taking neighbouring seats out of commission. The performance will be filmed at The REP for broadcast in November, with more information to be confirmed soon.

World Premiere of Lazuli Sky, choreographed by Will Tuckett
Lazuli Sky will be the first one-act ballet to be commissioned and presented by Carlos Acosta as Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, a role which he started in January 2020 shortly before the COVID-19 crisis hit. At the beginning of lockdown, Carlos turned to British choreographer Will Tuckett and asked him to create a new work for Birmingham Royal Ballet that is inspired by, and utilises, ‘social distancing’.

In response to the evolving way in which dance and live performance can once again be staged, Tuckett and his fully collaborative team, including designer Samuel Wyer and projection designer Nina Dunn, are creating a unique piece set to Shaker Loops by John Adams, which will be performed live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Paul Murphy. The ballet will be performed within a projected environment and will use architectural forms as part of the costuming that will help ‘socially distance’ the 12 dancers. In addition, an augmented reality experience is being created in collaboration with James Simpson to provide an alternate to the ‘live’ experience, using elements of volumetric capture and a digitally altered version of sections of the choreography.

The deep, speckled blue of the treasured Lapis Lazuli gemstone formed the base for the most precious and expensive of colours in the Renaissance painter’s palette. It created the beautiful expanse of Leonardo da Vinci’s sky. During the recent period of lockdown, the creative team has been drawn to the open clarity of sky, wind-shaped landscapes, and birdsong, without the distractions of normal everyday living. These form the inspiration and backdrop to this outward looking, hopeful and regenerative piece.

Header Image: Dancers: Max Maslen and Beatrice Parma. Image: Nina Dunn, James Simpson, Samuel Wyer

Our Waltzes, choreographed by Vicente Nebrada
To be performed by ten dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet, this Latin infused collection of neo-classical work celebrating love and romance by Venezuelan choreographer Vicente Nebrada has been performed for over 40 years. Filling the stage with fluid movements, love, romance and passion, Our Waltzes was created for the International Ballet of Caracas in the late 1970s and has since appeared in the repertory of many international companies. 

The score for Our Waltzes draws together music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries by a Who’s Who of Venezuelan composers of the period: Teresa Carreño, Salvador Llamozas, Manuel Guadalajara, Isabel de Maury, Sofia Limonta, Ramon Delgado Palacios and Heraclio Fernández. 

Liebestod, choreographed by Valery Panov
Wagner’s powerful music from Tristan and Isolde inspires emotive and dextrous dance in choreographer Valery Panov's visceral solo piece for some of the Company's leading male dancers. 

 

NEW WORK IN DEVELOPMENT: City of a Thousand Trades

World Premiere performances at Birmingham Repertory Theatre will be on 6, 7 & 8 May 2021; on sale details to be announced.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary season of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s move to the City in 1990, Birmingham Royal Ballet and The REP are delighted to reveal initial details for City of a Thousand Trades, a new one act abstract ballet in development, inspired by and celebrating the richly diverse cultural and industrial heritage of Birmingham.

Commissioned as part of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s ‘Ballet Now’ programme which, under the new direction of Carlos Acosta, seeks to find exciting, diverse, international creative talent, City of a Thousand Trades will be brought to stage by choreographer Miguel Altunaga, with music by Mathias Coppens, designs by Guilia Scrimieri, and lighting by Michael Lee-Woolley.

Birmingham became known as the City of a Thousand Trades at the height of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, thanks to the exponential growth of businesses using the central location and vast water network for transport and manufacturing. As the city grew into the second largest in the UK, highly skilled workers and tradespeople migrated to the city from throughout the Commonwealth including Ireland, India, the West Indies, and from all over the world, creating a melting pot of cultures.

The international creative team of City of a Thousand Trades is using pre-recorded interviews with a cross section of the Birmingham community as a reference, to make connections and to tell its residents’ stories. Their voices and opinions, tone, music and ambitions will greatly influence this work: Where have they come from? Where are they now? What are their hopes and desires for the future of the great city of Birmingham?

Havana-born choreographer Miguel Altuanaga has created work for Rambert, The Royal Ballet (as part of the Deloitte Ignite Festival 2014), Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, Tate Modern, and for bands Simply Red and The Zutons, and for Raindance an award-winning film Love Tomorrow, and previously for Carlos Acosta (Memoria). As a performer he is twice winner of the Cuban Best Male Solo Award, and a Critics’ Circle of London National Dance Award nominee.