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Press Release: Birmingham Royal Ballet autumn season 2019


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PRESS RELEASE  
19 August 2019

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BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET AUTUMN SEASON 

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s autumn season features a fitting balance of classical and contemporary ballet including Giselle and a Mixed Bill including the World Premiere of the latest Ballet Now commission and a partnership with Ballet Black. 

 

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Autumn 2019 could be described as a ‘bridge season’ during which Birmingham Royal Ballet moves towards the arrival of Carlos Acosta as Director in January 2020. The season is also classic BRB with its balance of classical and contemporary works: a three-date autumn tour of Giselle and a Mixed Bill featuring the latest Ballet Now commission plus a partnership with Ballet Black before a Christmas revival of Sir Peter Wright’s glorious The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome and the Royal Albert Hall to end the year. 

 

Mixed Bill: A Brief Nostalgia; The Suit; Nine Sinatra Songs: 19 September – 30 October
The fourth commission from BRB’s ground-breaking Ballet Now initiative is A Brief Nostalgia by rising young choreographer and Queensland Ballet dancer Jack Lister. Featuring a new score by award-winning Scottish (and first-time ballet score) composer Tom Harrold, this world premiere will open the exciting and eclectic mixed bill before Ballet Black – fresh from their staggering performance with Stormzy at Glastonbury - will take to the stage to perform Cathy Marston’s critically acclaimed The Suit, inspired by Can Themba’s South African fable. BRB’s dancers return to close the programme with Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, a glamorous portrait of seven couples that traces the arc of romantic relationships. Nine Sinatra Songs is one of Tharp’s most frequently performed works and has become an international, crowd-pleasing favourite. 

 

Giselle: 25 September – 2 November
David Bintley’s BRB legacy takes immediate effect with a UK tour of his, and Galina Samsova’s, production of Giselle this autumn. First staged 20 years ago in 1999, and featuring Adolphe Adam’s original score performed by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, BRB Principals Momoko Hirata and César Morales will star on the opening night as the eponymous heroine and her anti-hero Count Albrecht. The revival of this exquisite and heart-wrenching staging opens at Birmingham Hippodrome before travelling to Plymouth ahead of a two-date London run at Sadler’s Wells. Full casting to be announced. 

 

Cassa Pancho MBE, Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Black, said: "I'm thrilled that Ballet Black will be joining Birmingham Royal Ballet for their exciting mixed programme in autumn 2019. It's a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with one of the most established British ballet companies, and for our own brilliant dancers to work alongside the world-class talent at BRB." 

 

The end of the year also sees the now annual revival of Sir Peter Wright’s acclaimed production of The Nutcracker which returns to Birmingham Hippodrome for the festive season (22 November – 14 December), transporting the audience beyond the theatre to a realm of giant Christmas trees and dancing snowflakes. The magic continues at the Royal Albert Hall for a third year with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s spectacular reimagined version of The Nutcracker (28 - 31 December), complete with projections from 59 Productions and Simon Callow as the voice of Drosselmeyer. 

 

Further Autumn Announcements
September will also see the announcement of the programme for Carlos Acosta’s summer festival which will take place at Birmingham Hippodrome and Sadler’s Wells in June to end the 19/20 season. Carlos’s first (20/21) season for Birmingham Royal Ballet will be announced in February 2020. 

Press images for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 2019/20 autumn season are available to download here. 

For further information please contact laurenmorton@brb.org.uk.
 

Listings Information 

 

Mixed Programme 

A Brief Nostalgia | The Suit | Nine Sinatra Songs 

September – October 2019 

 

A Brief Nostalgia 

Choreography: Jack Lister Music: Tom Harrold
Designs: Thomas Mika Lighting: Alexander Berlarge

 

The Suit

Choreography: Cathy Marston Music: Philip Feeney
Designs: Jane Heather Lighting: David Plater Dramaturgy: Edward Kemp 

 

Nine Sinatra Songs 

Choreography: Twyla Tharp © 1992
Songs sung by: Frank Sinatra
Scenic Design originally by: Santo Loquasto Original costumes by: Oscar de la Renta Lighting originally by: Jennifer Tipton 

 

Birmingham Hippodrome
Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB; 0844 338 5000 birminghamhippodrome.com
Thursday 19 – Saturday 21 September 

 

Sadler’s Wells, London
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN; 020 7863 8000 sadlerswells.com
Tuesday 29 – Wednesday 30 October 

 

Giselle 

September – November 2019 

Choreography: Marius Petipa, Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, David Bintley Music: Adolphe Adam
Production: David Bintley, Galina Samsova
Designs: Hayden Griffin

Lighting: Mark Jonathan 

 

Birmingham Hippodrome
Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB; 0844 338 5000 birminghamhippodrome.com
Wednesday 25 – Saturday 28 September

 

Plymouth Theatre Royal
Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2TR; 01752 267222 theatreroyal.com
Wednesday 23 – Friday 25 October 

 

Sadler’s Wells, London
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN; 020 7863 8000 sadlerswells.com
Friday 1– Saturday 2 November 

 

Sir Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker 

November – December 2019 

Choreography: Peter Wright, Lev Ivanov, Vincent Redmon Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Production: Peter Wright
Designs: John F. MacFarlane

Lighting: David A. Finn 

Birmingham Hippodrome
Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB; 0844 338 5000 birminghamhippodrome.com
Friday 22 November – Saturday 14 December On sale now 

 

Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Albert Hall present The Nutcracker 

December 2019 

Choreography: Peter Wright, Lev Ivanov, Vincent Redmon Additional choreography: David Bintley, Marion Tait Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Designs: Dick Bird 

Lighting: Peter Teigen
Projections Design: 59 Productions Sound Design: Bobby Aitken 

Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP; 020 7589 8212 royalalberthall.com
Saturday 28 – Tuesday 31 December 

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:
 

Birmingham Royal Ballet 
Based at Birmingham Hippodrome since 1990, Birmingham Royal Ballet is the United Kingdom’s leading classical ballet touring company performing a range of traditional, classical and heritage ballets as well as ground-breaking new works with the aim of encouraging choreographers of the future.

 

Internationally renowned dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta CBE has been appointed as the company’s new Director. He will take up his appointment in January 2020. Music Director is Koen Kessels. Birmingham Royal Ballet performs at Birmingham Hippodrome for approximately ten weeks of the year and the remainder of the year tours throughout the United Kingdom and overseas.   

The Royal Ballet Sinfonia is Britain's busiest ballet orchestra, playing for Birmingham Royal Ballet's wide-ranging programme in the UK and abroad. The Sinfonia also plays frequently for The Royal Ballet and many of the world's other leading ballet companies, including regular performances with; The Royal Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, New York City Ballet, Australian Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Kirov, Norwegian Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and La Scala Ballet.

 

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52 minutes ago, alison said:

Well, with bottom prices pushing £30 in Birmingham I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave it until Sadler's Wells to see Giselle :( 

 

I find prices at Birmingham consistently higher at the bottom end than anywhere else I book for, whether for ballet or opera, and it does put me off going there if the same show is on somewhere equally (in)convenient. Has it always been that way, or is it a result of the well publicised cuts by the council to arts spending?

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It's certainly been that way for a considerable time: I suspect it may be partly because they can't set the top prices that high, so the range has to be relatively low.  I guess you have to be relatively well-heeled to go to the ballet in Birmingham :( 

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1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

I was absolutely shocked by the prices for Swan Lake in Birmingham next Spring.  The prices almost seem to be going up exponentially in Birmingham and in Leeds.

 

Just for some perspective....

I see top price for Swan Lake in Birmingham is 69 pounds (correct me if I'm wrong)

Here in Toronto our top ticket price is $240, or about 150 pounds.

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2 hours ago, toursenlair said:

 

Just for some perspective....

I see top price for Swan Lake in Birmingham is 69 pounds (correct me if I'm wrong)

Here in Toronto our top ticket price is $240, or about 150 pounds.

 

And the way the £ has been plummeting it would probably cost you about $10 to buy a top price ticket in Brum!

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2 hours ago, Two Pigeons said:

To pay for a top price ticket I would need to have a pretty clear indication who I was expecting to see.

I was really hoping that BRB's ridiculous casting announcement policy would change under new management.  Maybe when Carlos takes over it will.  Having been in the RB for so many years where casting is announced months in advance, I hope he will have an understanding of how important this is to people paying their hard-earned money for tickets, travel and accommodation.  I have often found that by the time casting is announced, the train fares and hotels are a lot more expensive because they are being booked so much closer to the date of travel.  For those of us who work full time, we also have to organise time off if the programme we want to see is during the week.  I, and many others I know, would make the trip more often if we had more time to plan, save and pay. 

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31 minutes ago, Sim said:

I was really hoping that BRB's ridiculous casting announcement policy would change under new management.  Maybe when Carlos takes over it will.  Having been in the RB for so many years where casting is announced months in advance, I hope he will have an understanding of how important this is to people paying their hard-earned money for tickets, travel and accommodation.  I have often found that by the time casting is announced, the train fares and hotels are a lot more expensive because they are being booked so much closer to the date of travel.  For those of us who work full time, we also have to organise time off if the programme we want to see is during the week.  I, and many others I know, would make the trip more often if we had more time to plan, save and pay. 

 

I find it just makes me buy more tickets and perhaps that is the idea!

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17 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

I find it just makes me buy more tickets and perhaps that is the idea!

That's fine if you can afford it, but if you have to plan a trip and pay for train and accommodation and it's only affordable as a treat, or once a booking period, then knowing in advance who is scheduled to dance is very helpful! 

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The thing is, I really would like to support BRB more than I do, but there are several things preventing me allocating more of my limited budget to them.

 

Ticket pricing for the cheapest seats at Birmingham Hippodrome might be something they can’t do much about, but better notice of casting and more inspiring programming for mixed bills (as mentioned previously, perhaps with one dedicated to the “heritage” rep and one to newer works) *are* within the Director’s gift: these are top of my wish list for the new regime rather than any new initiative or the revival of a particular ballet.

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When is casting usually announced for BRB? I know ENB which is also a company that tours frequently usually announces casing quite late, maybe like a month before.

 

I wonder why smaller companies can’t announce when the tickets go on sale, surely by then they know who will be dancing due to rehearsals and internal casting needing to be decided? Or perhaps because they are smaller they need more flexibility? I have to say I don’t follow BRB much (but may do in future) but find the late casting for ENB frustrating - by the time it’s announced usually the cheaper tickets or best value tickets within the price band have gone, leading to me buying tickets in advance and hoping I get lucky, failing that I just go to see the company and that piece generally. 

 

If RB can do it, why not others - casting is always subject to last minute changes anyway, I’m sure people would rather know and chance it that there may be last minute injuries/scheduling changes rather than waiting till the wire. 

 

Also £30 for cheapest tickets isn’t really on - I’m always of the belief if you need to raise prices it should hit the highest prices first, and then next proportionate rising. There should always be tickets available in the £15-20 region. 

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15 minutes ago, JNC said:

 

When is casting usually announced for BRB? I know ENB which is also a company that tours frequently usually announces casing quite late, maybe like a month before.

 

 

Very often BRB announce as little as two weeks ahead (and I think on occasion less than that).

 

In their defence, I should say that they’re better at announcing the “other” roles than RB, who very often don’t give any notice of dancers other than the two leads and a couple of character parts.

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55 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

The thing is, I really would like to support BRB more than I do, but there are several things preventing me allocating more of my limited budget to them.

 

Ticket pricing for the cheapest seats at Birmingham Hippodrome might be something they can’t do much about, but better notice of casting and more inspiring programming for mixed bills (as mentioned previously, perhaps with one dedicated to the “heritage” rep and one to newer works) *are* within the Director’s gift: these are top of my wish list for the new regime rather than any new initiative or the revival of a particular ballet.

 

 

I agree totally about more inspiring triple bills.  For about 3 decades my watchword was 'never miss a triple'.  For a few years now that is pretty much exactly what has happened.

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

That's fine if you can afford it, but if you have to plan a trip and pay for train and accommodation and it's only affordable as a treat, or once a booking period, then knowing in advance who is scheduled to dance is very helpful! 

 

As we only get one week of ENB in Liverpool a year I also have to plan a trip, accommodation and transport costs.  It's why I never have any spare cash!!

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30 minutes ago, JNC said:

Also £30 for cheapest tickets isn’t really on - I’m always of the belief if you need to raise prices it should hit the highest prices first, and then next proportionate rising. There should always be tickets available in the £15-20 region. 

 

I absolutely agree, JNC. And having high prices at the lower end somewhat flies in the face of the supposed drive to banish cries of elitism.

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27 minutes ago, JNC said:

When is casting usually announced for BRB? I know ENB which is also a company that tours frequently usually announces casing quite late, maybe like a month before.

 

I wonder why smaller companies can’t announce when the tickets go on sale, surely by then they know who will be dancing due to rehearsals and internal casting needing to be decided? Or perhaps because they are smaller they need more flexibility?

 

 

BRB usually announce casting for full length ballets 2 weeks before the performance week starts.  It's often later than that for mixed programmes.  Recently they have announced the casting for full length ballets for all venues at the same time as the Birmingham casting has been announced but this cannot be guaranteed.

 

I can't really comment on ENB.

 

Northern Ballet (at best) tend to announce casting on the week of the performance.

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2 minutes ago, Scheherezade said:

 

I absolutely agree, JNC. And having high prices at the lower end somewhat flies in the face of the supposed drive to banish cries of elitism.

 

I mostly agree.

 

However, when I see the prices that are being charged for touring musicals these days they start to make ballet look cheap!!  In Liverpool and at the Lowry the top price average for ballet seems to be around £45 but musicals are often in the £60+ range.

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About the cheapest prices: Welsh National Opera cheapest prices at the Birmingham Hippodrome are consistently higher than at other venues, and by a clear margin. This even allows for the horrible ATG fees at other theatres, which I try to avoid but can’t always.

 

It seems to be a problem with the theatre rather than the company. (I also really dislike their misleading practice of showing reduced rate seats for the disabled as the lowest available price - I can’t think of another theatre which does this.)

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3 hours ago, Scheherezade said:

 

I absolutely agree, JNC. And having high prices at the lower end somewhat flies in the face of the supposed drive to banish cries of elitism.

But a ticket to a premier league football match is more than the cheaper ballet tickets which belies the 'elitism' argument.   Given that we are watching a lot of highly skilled artists and a live orchestra, I think the prices are reasonable.  

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4 minutes ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

But a ticket to a premier league football match is more than the cheaper ballet tickets which belies the 'elitism' argument.   

 

Not, for some reason, in the eyes of those who cry "elitism", though.  And the arts do need to be made accessible by keeping some prices low.  I don't deny that you're paying a lot of salaries with your bucks, though :) 

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One would hope that arts organisations don’t adopt the cult of greed shown by the average football club. And don’t forget that the price of football tickets goes towards the exorbitant salaries paid to premier league players. 

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19 minutes ago, Scheherezade said:

One would hope that arts organisations don’t adopt the cult of greed shown by the average football club. And don’t forget that the price of football tickets goes towards the exorbitant salaries paid to premier league players. 

 

 

And their vastly over remunerated agents.

 

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The price seats at theatres relate to their sightlines. Birmingham Hippodrome has better sightlines than most theatres and so doesn't feel the need to offer the reduced prices that many other theatres do. 

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1 hour ago, RMM1 said:

The price seats at theatres relate to their sightlines. Birmingham Hippodrome has better sightlines than most theatres and so doesn't feel the need to offer the reduced prices that many other theatres do. 

 

I don't think it's that simple. In my experience sightlines for bottom priced tickets are as good or better at the Bristol Hippodrome, the Coliseum and Sadler's Wells for appreciably less than I would pay at the Birmingham Hippodrome (for all of these I get the cheapest available ticket; this is my general approach except at ROH, where the horseshoe shape rules out the cheapest seats for ballet IMO).

 

Granted, the seats were more comfortable at Birmingham than at the first two, but that doesn't go for Sadler's Wells - and while Bristol and the Coli are less comfortable, you can get bottom priced tickets much closer to the action than the back of the Rear Circle at Birmingham.

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Do I think ballet is value for money when we consider the training, cost of costumes, pointe shoes, travel for the dancers/sets/costumes etc (for those travelling companies), hire of theatres (again for the travelling companies), and of course salaries of dancers/other staff and cost of commissioning new pieces etc? Yes, it is great value for money. In fact, if we factor all this in, I imagine BRB selling tickets for £30 is likely a loss for the company, covered by more expensive tickets/funding from rich patrons/government funding etc. 

 

However value for money and what people can afford are different things. Ballet is subsided by the government (sadly yes, much less than before) because of it's cultural heritage and value as well as an appreciation that the vast majority of the population could not afford ticket prices if they were sold at face value. (Ok I don't know this for a fact but I imagine this would/should factor into public funding decisions.) 

 

A lot of people are priced out of football/plays/musicals (and possibly even the cinema the way it's going!) so I don't think it's a good argument to say that ballet should cost more because other comparative things cost more. I am not saying anyone is actually making the argument that ballet should cost more, but I think it's dangerous to say that higher prices can be justified because of X, Y, Z  - this is 100% true but doesn't mitigate that a lot people cannot simply afford to pay £30+ for entertainment. Are we to say to these people - well tough beans, don't have any culture in your life, you can't afford it, and just focus on feeding yourself and working? If tickets are £15, a family could go for around £50 which may be a lot to them, but worth it as a special treat. If you start charging £30, you are looking at over £100 for an evening's entertainment which just means it's out of reach for a certain sector of the population.  

 

You can see football for 'free' on TV (at home or the pub depending on the game, or at a reduced rate to being in the stadium if you're paying for a sports subscription as opposed to what you'd pay to see it live). You can wait for cheaper DVDs/home rental for cinema releases and split the cost of these with others who may watch with you. There isn't really a comparable alternative for seeing live ballet (bar the occasional cinema screening but not all ROH productions are live streamed, let alone BRB/ENB etc companies) and if a DVD is produced then it is more expensive than a standard film DVD I think due to comparatively lower demand. 

 

Yes musicals are ridiculously priced but this is argument for lowering the cost of musicals, not raising the cost of ballet. And in personal experience, with the plays I've seen in London there are always often seats in the £15-20 range, good deals for students/young people (including last minute 'rush sales' and on the day tickets), and the top tier tickets are still half the price of what you see at ROH (£60-80 compared to over £150-200 at ROH for some productions). 

 

In my opinion if we want people from all backgrounds to be able to go to ballet/opera/theatre/football whatever it may be, pricing needs to reflect this. I stand by my comment that the 'best' way of doing it (in my opinion) is by raising the price for the most expensive seats, as proportionally this will hit those people a lot less (if you can already afford over £100 for a ticket, an extra £10-20 isn't really going to hit you the same way that someone who only spends £15-20 for a ticket starts needing to spend £30 and over). I admit it's not a perfect solution and perhaps it's not done because it may annoy those people who are wealthier who would be targets to be patrons for larger donations perhaps so it's a nuanced argument. 

 

Sorry for a long post, I suppose I just feel quite passionately about this as I think it's really important to encourage all backgrounds to at least have the option of experiencing live ballet, and the sad reality is it is less 'popular' and mainstream than the aforementioned musicals/football etc, so rightly or wrongly you are never going to diversify audiences unless you price competitively with regard to these other 'alternatives'. I think ROH has positive things like the live streams and the young students scheme which do a lot, and as long as a reasonable number of tickets are priced £25 and under (I'm talking around 20%, not a token 10 or something!) despite recent price rises I will remain relatively happy (subject to these tickets being able for general public sale and not snapped up by friends which I think defeats the point somewhat...). 

 

 

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