Gruelling hours of rehearsal to perfect every last leap and turn, costume fittings for a cast of 60, that nerve-wracking wait before finally taking to the stage; these are familiar steps in the preparation of every Birmingham Royal Ballet production. Whilst the Company’s world-class dancers prepare for their production of The Sleeping Beauty at Birmingham Hippodrome, a group of dance students from across the West Midlands will take to the same stage in Sleeping Beauty Dreams.
Sleeping Beauty Dreams is a unique performance project for dance students of all ages. The performance at Birmingham Hippodrome will be the culmination of a four-month quest to inspire and develop dance talent from across the region, bringing big ballet aspirations to life.
Over 150 hopefuls from the age of eight took part in open auditions in September 2017 under the watchful eye of former BRB dancers Rachel Hester and Jenny Murphy. A final cast of 60 was selected, securing the chance to experience the intensive training, rehearsal and eventual performance of a classic ballet, in front of a full audience, at Birmingham Hippodrome.
Ballet students young and old are the stars of Sleeping Beauty Dreams, taking on pivotal roles such as the Lilac Fairy, the evil Carabosse and the iconic Bluebird pas de deux. Accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, the cast will perform an adapted version of Marius Petipa’s choreography against the background of Philip Prowse’s exquisite sets for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production.
The students will be joined by Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers Yvette Knight as Princess Aurora and Edivaldo Souza da Silva as Prince Florimund.
James Garrington, who trains at Debonair Dance Academy in Cradley Heath, will be dancing The Bluebird, amongst other ensemble roles. He commented: ‘Sleeping Beauty Dreams has been an amazing experience because it’s really developed my skills and given me more confidence in my dance ability. My favourite part about Sleeping Beauty Dreams is dancing roles I’ve only ever dreamed of and having the opportunity to show people what I can do.’
James is one of only a handful of boys taking part in the project, a prospect which he admits was initially daunting. ‘At first it was quite nerve-wracking, being one of the only boys in the production. However, it’s definitely made me appreciate the roles I get to dance, and the progress I’m making. I started ballet, not because I wanted to be different, but because I wanted to try something new.’
‘My favourite thing about ballet has to be the leaps because it makes all of your hard work look effortless. It’s a way to express yourself, even if you’re feeling nervous. If any boys are interested in ballet but not sure if it’s for them, I’d tell them to just come along and try. Everyone who takes part enjoys it, so you have to give yourself the opportunity to find out.’
Young boys in the West Midlands don’t have to look far to find their ballet role models. James adds ‘I admire Iain Mackay (former BRB principal, now Director of Yorkshire Ballet Summer School) because his style of dance is very powerful. He’s given me a lot of inspiration to continue dancing and follow the same path in the future.’
This inspiring evening of dance, when ballet dreams will come true, takes place at Birmingham Hippodrome on Monday 19 February, 7pm. Tickets: birminghamhipppdrome.com / 0844 338 5000.
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