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Press Release BRB 2013/14 Season at Birmingham Hippodrome

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  • UK premiere of David Bintley’s The Prince of the Pagodas with scenery and costumes by War Horse designer Rae Smith
  • Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker returns for Christmas
  • A mixed bill to celebrate the work of choreographer Frederick Ashton includes a new revival of

Les Rendezvous

  • A mixed bill to showcase the work of Birmingham Royal Ballet Director David Bintley includes

Still Life at the Penguin Café

  • Plenty of family-friendly performances, including weekend matinees, during the Company’s 24th season at Birmingham Hippodrome
  • Flexible range of ticket prices from as little as £15 with a generous choice of concessionary rates


Birmingham Royal Ballet announces the 2013/2014 Birmingham Hippodrome season, the 24th season at its home theatre in the Midlands. The season will celebrate the Company’s varied repertory, from the all-time favourite The Sleeping Beauty in the autumn through to the return of The Nutcracker for Christmas and La Fille mal gardée in the summer of 2014. Added to the mix will be the UK premiere performances of a new production of The Prince of the Pagodas in February 2014. This adaptation, by Company Director David Bintley, with scenery and costumes by War Horse designer Rae Smith, will be staged during the composer Benjamin Britten’s world-wide centenary celebrations. Alongside the full-length works, the Company will perform three programmes of shorter works to include the return of Bintley’s ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations and a new revival of Frederick Ashton’s Les Rendezvous.


During the 13/14 season Birmingham Royal Ballet will continue to focus on creating new works and presenting quality productions at affordable ticket prices. The Company has held most of its prices for the last few seasons and from September 2013 a flexible range of prices will enable the Company to offer tickets from as little as £15 with a generous range of concessionary rates available to many.


Throughout the season, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 60 full-time dancers from across the world will be accompanied by Britain’s busiest ballet orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. The Sinfonia under the musical directorship of Koen Kessels, with Principal Conductor Paul Murphy and Conductor Phil Ellis, plays for Birmingham Royal Ballet's wide-ranging programme in the UK and abroad.


The 13/14 Birmingham season begins with a mixed bill named Penguin Café. This will celebrate some of David Bintley's most popular, innovative and best-loved shorter works from the last 25 years.


Penguin Café

Tombeaux / E=mc² / ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café                               3 – 5 October 2013


Tombeaux is Bintley’s lament on the death of his mentor, the great choreographer Frederick Ashton. This homage to classical ballet will draw the audience into a passionate and melancholic landscape. Music is by William Walton and designs by Jasper Conran with lighting by John B. ReadE=mc² won the last-ever ITV South Bank Show Award for Dance in 2010. Danced to a specially commissioned score by Australian composer Matthew Hindson, E=mc² explores Einstein’s ‘Special Theory of Relativity’ in music and dance of breathtaking energy and speed. Costumes are by Kate Ford and lighting by Peter Mumford.  Completing the bill is one of Bintley’s best-known ballets, ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin CaféThe ballet introduces a colourful host of endangered animals seeking shelter from the storm. Be introduced to a morris-dancing flea, a ballroom-dancing ram, a carnival-loving woolly monkey and many more, in a ballet that takes a witty and poignant look at man’s impact on the world. Music is by Simon Jeffes and designs by Hayden Griffin and lighting by John B. Read.


The Sleeping Beauty                                                                                    8 – 12 October 2013


The Sleeping Beauty is one of the most popular fairytale ballets of all time. With a classical score by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Marius Petipa,The Sleeping Beauty is considered one of the greatest ballets from Imperial Russia. This spectacular production is by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s former director Sir Peter Wright, creator of some of the Company’s best-loved productions including The NutcrackerCoppélia and Swan Lake. With its romantic finale packed with every fairytale character imaginable, The Sleeping Beauty is as engaging now as when the Sadler’s Wells Company premiered it in 1984. Designs are by Philip Prowse and lighting by Mark Jonathan.


The Nutcracker                                                                                             22 Nov – 12 Dec 2013


Over the last two decades many audience members have said their Christmas truly starts when they see Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker.In this unparalleled, world-famous production by Peter Wright, complete with sets and costumes by the designer of the Company’s stunning Cinderella, this is one family-friendly ballet not to be missed.  Music is by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, choreography by Peter Wright, Lev Ivanov and Vincent Redmon. Designs are by John F. Macfarlane and lighting by David A. Finn.


Three of a Kind

Card Game / Slaughter on Tenth Avenue / Elite Syncopations                  19 – 22 February 2014


Three of a Kind presents three witty classics from three masters of choreography: John Cranko, George Balanchine and Kenneth MacMillan. InCard Game, Stravinsky, himself a keen poker player, plays with allegiances, rivalries and power. Cranko’s witty choreography entered the Royal Ballet repertory in 1966. In this modern classic, the sly Joker banishes the proud Queen, the Two, Three, Four, Five and Six strike a straight flush, and little Two of Diamonds tries to spoil everyone’s fun. Music is by Igor Stravinsky and designs are by Dorothee Zippel and lighting by Peter Teigen. Created by great ballet choreographer George Balanchine for the musical On Your Toes!, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a crazy 1930s comedy, its humour and vitality providing plenty of entertainment. After discovering that a hitman in the audience is to shoot him as soon as his stage routine is over, a luckless leading man has no option but to extend his frantic solo until the cops arrive! Music is by the great Richard Rodgers and designs by Kate Ford and lighting by Johnny Westall-Eyre. In Elite Syncopations, a completely stripped-back theatre bursts into life as dancers in brilliantly coloured costumes gather for a dance competition. An equally vibrant rag-time band play old favourites from Scott Joplin and his contemporaries to accompany a string of sketches, spanning the dazzling, the witty and the touching, as each dancer at the competition takes their turn. One of MacMillan’s best-loved creations, Elite Syncopations is certain to leave audiences smiling. Choreography is by Kenneth MacMillan and designs are by Ian Spurling and lighting by John B. Read.


The Prince of the Pagodas                                                                           25 Feb –1 March 2014


David Bintley has created an imaginative reworking of the classic story that celebrates the power of family love. Bintley’s The Prince of the Pagodas,to Benjamin Britten’s only commissioned ballet score, was rapturously received by audiences and critics at its premiere by the National Ballet of Japan in 2011. The spectacular and imaginative costumes from War Horse designer Rae Smith promises to bring to life the elegance and beauty of the Chrysanthemum Kingdom, and will capture the audiences’ imaginations in the journey through the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

The Prince of the Pagodas tells the story of the Princess Sakura who mourns the death of her brother and the slow disintegration of her once all-powerful father the Emperor of the Chrysanthemum Throne, who, broken by the death of his son, allows his new wife to take control of his kingdom. Presented with a choice of four powerful and wealthy husbands, Sakura’s memories of the true love she once felt for her brother gives her the courage to refuse her suitors. Her resolve is reinforced when a fifth suitor arrives at the palace – a scaly Salamander, both fascinating and repellent. Determined not to be forced to follow her stepmother’s bidding, Princess Sakura throws herself on the mercy of the new arrival. After a long and dangerous journey they arrive at the Salamander’s kingdom, but Sakura’s adventure has only just begun. Bintley follows in the chorographic footsteps of Cranko and MacMillan. Cranko choreographed The Prince of the Pagodas in 1957 for the Sadler’s Wells Ballet and MacMillan’s version premiered in 1989 for The Royal Ballet.

The Prince of the Pagodas is supported (2014) by The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The John Feeney Charitable Trust, The Britten-Pears Foundation, The Patrick Trust and The Boltini Trust.


Darkness and Light

Dante Sonata / Les Rendezvous / Façade                                                4 – 7 June 2014


Darkness and Light presents three early works from the founder choreographer of the Royal Ballet companies, master of the art form, Frederick Ashton. Fragile innocence confronts desperate evil in the simple and poignant Dante Sonata, created at the height of World War II. The elegant white-clad Children of Light battle the dark and serpentine Children of Darkness with only one certain outcome – like every war, there will be casualties on both sides. Danced to a passionate, virtuoso score by Franz Liszt, inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, the piece still holds a chilling resonance today. Designs are by Sophie Fedorovitch and lighting by Mark Jonathan. Created in 1933, Les Rendezvous was Ashton’s first major ballet for the then Vic-Wells Ballet. This gentle piece, in which friends and acquaintances meet and dance together in a park, allows each of the dancers an opportunity to display virtuoso skills and technique in a series of solos, pas de deuxand ensemble dances. Music is by Daniel Auber, arranged and orchestrated by Constant Lambert, with designs by Anthony Ward and lighting by John B. Read. Finally, based on Edith Sitwell’s deliciously nonsensical poetry, Façade embraces the fun of it all with whole-hearted and wilful abandon. Music is by William Walton with designs by John Armstrong and lighting by Peter Teigen.


La Fille mal gardée                                                                                       11 – 15 June 2014


The 2013/14 Birmingham Hippodrome season finishes with the funny and tender La Fille mal gardéeThis charming ballet was an instant hit when it was created by Frederick Ashton for the Royal Ballet in 1960. Ever popular because of its simple, engaging story, wonderful wit and passion, La Fille mal gardée is known for its famous clog and ribbon dances and remains a firm favourite for all the family, ballet aficionados or those new to ballet. Music is by Ferdinand Hérold,freely adapted and arranged by John Lanchbery, scenario by Jean Dauberval with designs by Osbert Lancaster and lighting by Peter Teigen.




  • BRB @ BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME 2013–14 season on-sale dates

10 April: BRB Friends’ season and individual tickets, and season tickets for previous subscribers processed from this date (post only).

17 April: New season ticket purchasers (post only).

7 May: Individual tickets BRB Friends (telephone) and Birmingham Hippodrome Friends.

8 May: On-line individual tickets, telephone and in-person individual tickets.

3–5 October 2013 - Penguin Café (Tombeaux | E=mc2 | ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café)

8–12 October 2013 - The Sleeping Beauty

22 Nov–12 Dec 2013 - The Nutcracker

19–22 Feb 2014 - Three of a Kind (Card Game | Slaughter on Tenth Avenue | Elite Syncopations)

25 Feb–1 March 2014 - The Prince of the Pagodas

4–7 June 2014 - Darkness and Light (Dante Sonata | Les Rendezvous | Façade)

11–15 June 2014 - La Fille mal gardée

·         Autumn 2013 tour dates confirmed (more information and 13/14 tour dates to follow)

The Lowry: 25 – 28 Sep The Sleeping Beauty

Sadler’s Wells, London: 15 & 16 Oct Penguin Café, 17 – 19 Oct The Sleeping Beauty

Sunderland Empire Theatre: 24 – 26 October 2013 The Sleeping Beauty

Theatre Royal Plymouth: 29 & 30 Oct Penguin Café, 31 Oct – 2 Nov 2013 The Sleeping Beauty


Edited by Janet McNulty
Changed minor detail
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