David Bintley: My five most memorable moments so far

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As David Bintley prepares to step down after 24 years as Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, we sat down with him to look back at his illustrious career and to reminisce on his five most memorable moments so far.

1. After my graduation from The Royal Ballet School, my first performance with Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet as the newest member of the Company, was at Sadler's Wells Theatre. I was thrown on due to injury in the role of a peasant in Sir Fred’s La Fille mal gardée. I walked onstage at 7.30pm at the exact moment that my grandfather died. He always said he would see me dance one last time.

2. Armed with a hundred ideas and a choreographic vocabulary of two steps, my first professional ballet, The Outsider, premiered at Birmingham Hippodrome in 1978. I was 20 years old. Little did I know how much Birmingham was to figure in my future.

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3. After ten years at Sadler's Wells I transferred to the company at Covent Garden and my first ballet for them was ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café. Seven years later I made Tombeaux and left the company. The intervening years had not been particularly happy ones but pointed the way towards the future for me, and with the closing of that chapter opened the next, and most important, in my life.

4. With a young family to support, the two years I spent between leaving The Royal Ballet and becoming director of Birmingham Royal Ballet were lean ones. The day we heard that I’d ‘got the job’ however, we ordered the one bottle of Bollinger that the local Chinese restaurant possessed, and probably had done for many years. It wasn’t very cold but it tasted wonderful! 

5. When I first moved up to Birmingham a somewhat uninformed radio interviewer asked me if my best work was behind me? I assured him it wasn’t, but after directing the Company now for 24 years, I suppose I would have to grudgingly admit that much of my best work now lies in the past. I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve though, and am looking forwards to the future with a sense of a circle completed. I began my career with the Royal Ballet at Sadler’s Wells in 1976, and I end it 43 years later in the same theatre with one of my happiest works, created for Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and premiered at the Royal Opera House in 1989, Hobson’s Choice.

Why not explore David's ballets as Director of BRB from 1995 - 2018 through #PhotosAtFive, a celebration of his wonderful works in pictures.