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Press Release: Young Birmingham based dance students to perform alongside the professionals in Birmingham Royal Ballet's 'unrivalled' The Nutcracke

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Media release: Monday 11 November 2019 – Continuing to strengthen the relationship between Elmhurst Ballet School and its associated company Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB), the Edgbaston in Birmingham based school is thrilled a number of its young students have been selected to perform in Sir Peter Wright’s world-famous production of The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome (22 November – 14 December) and the Royal Albert Hall in London (28 – 31 December) this Christmas season 2019. 


11 year old Wesley Mpakati from Tyseley in Birmingham is currently a Year 7 Lower School student at Elmhurst, and Joseph Burdett a 13 year old from Plymouth is in Year 9 at the school and successfully auditioned for the role of ‘Fritz’ in front of Marion Tait, BRB’s Acting Director. The character of young Fritz appears in Act One of the much-loved production and helps the story unfold when he mischievously takes a Christmas present meant for his sister Clara.


Elmhurst students joining Wesley and Joseph and also dancing in the Birmingham Hippodrome performances are: Holly Guiney (Year 7) from London; Leo Luscombe (Year 7) from Plymouth; Benedict Harrison (Year 😎 from Bromsgrove; and Thomas Kujawa (Year 9) from Isle of Wight. 


In this production of The Nutcracker, first seen in Birmingham almost thirty years ago, young Clara is swept away into an enchanting winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes and a Sugar Plum Fairy. Year after year, a magical Christmas tree and a handsome prince with his army of toy soldiers continues to engage audiences of all ages. The Elmhurst students will join other young children, 60 BRB dancers and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia in the annual Christmas treat that The Sunday Times said ‘no other version comes close’ to. 


Wesley, Joseph and Benedict joined Elmhurst’s Lower School from its ‘Elmhurst Young Dancers’programme. The programme of weekend classes for younger children helps to prepare them for full-time vocational training and another step closer to a professional career in dance. The weekend classes are held in Birmingham, Manchester, Plymouth and Sunderland.


Denise Whiteman, Director of Dance Training and ‘Elmhurst Young Dancers’ at Elmhurst Ballet School, said: On behalf of everyone at Elmhurst and the Young Dancers programme, I wish all our students taking part in this magical production, a very special time over the coming months. This is a fantastic experience for them and it also inspires the next cohort of students who wish to pursue a career in dance. Without the generosity of our supporters, including The Cecil King Memorial Foundation, our Elmhurst Young Dancers programme might not exist and a young person’s talent for dance could be missed.” 


Through the on-going relationship with BRB, Elmhurst’s students continue to enjoy close links with the main company, not only exposed to its incredible history and repertoire but they also take part in company class, experience company dancer and staff visits to the school, and have opportunities to tour both nationally and internationally, most recently in David Bintley’s Hobson’s Choice, and David Bintley and Galina Samsova’s Giselle.  




Elmhurst Ballet School is based in Edgbaston, Birmingham and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023. It is a world-renowned centre of excellence in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet and prepares talented young dancers aged between 11 and 19 to become the thinking dance professionals of the future. The school nurtures individuality through a holistic approach to training, education and health, which helps students to become independent, collaborative and versatile artists, ready to take their professional places on the world stage. Elmhurst’s dance training is of the highest quality and is delivered by current and former dance professionals. This training is enhanced by opportunities to work with Birmingham Royal Ballet, visiting choreographers and dance artists. Elite but not elitist, Elmhurst believes that talent is classless and its exceptional training opportunities should be available to young dancers regardless of their financial, social or cultural backgrounds. Whilst Elmhurst is an independent school, typically some 80% of students benefit from Government support to train at the school.


Twitter: @elmhurstballet // Instagram: @elmhurstballetschool // Facebook: Elmhurst Ballet School


More about Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker can be found at www.brb.org.uk/whats-on/event/nutcracker-2019

Photograph credit: Birmingham Royal Ballet in Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker. Bill Cooper 


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