Curated by Carlos: City of a Thousand Trades / Imminent / Chacona

Page 1

Director Carlos Acosta

Curated by Carlos City of a Thousand Trades Imminent Chacona 4 – 6 November 2021

BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET ROYAL BALLET SINFONIA Patron Her Majesty the Queen President HRH The Prince of Wales Vice-President The Lady Sarah Chatto

Director Carlos Acosta cbe Chief Executive Officer Caroline Miller obe

Founded by Dame Ninette de Valois om, ch

Prima Ballerina Assoluta Dame Margot Fonteyn

Founder Choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton om, ch, cbe

Director Laureate Sir Peter Wright cbe

Founder Music Director Constant Lambert

Music Director Laureate Barry Wordsworth

Music Director Koen Kessels

WELCOME We’re delighted to be back at Sadler’s

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza as they

Wells for this sublime triple bill.

head off on their adventures, alongside

Miguel Altunaga’s City of a Thousand

a host of colourful characters. I hope

Trades and Daniela Cardim’s Imminent

you, your family and friends will be

premiered in Birmingham in June,

able to join us for these performances.

alongside the Company premiere of Goyo Montero’s Chacona.

As ever, a heartfelt thanks to each and every one of our supporters. A special

Carlos Acosta. © Johan Persson.

For these performances, Goyo has

thank you must go to the Garfield

created a new pas de deux for Chacona,

Weston Foundation, Aud Jebsen, the

which I will perform alongside the

Michael Bishop Foundation and Oak

wonderful Italian ballerina, Alessandra

Foundation for their extraordinary

Ferri, in her Birmingham Royal Ballet

support in 2021. We are also delighted


to welcome HSBC UK as Principal Sponsor of Birmingham Royal Ballet

Looking ahead, we have a packed

across 2021/22. We are extremely

schedule of live performances to look

grateful for this support.

forward to. We round off the year with the Christmas essential, The

I hope you enjoy the performance.

Nutcracker, both in London and Birmingham. We start 2022 with a tour of my brandnew production of Don Quixote, created especially for the Company. Set in sunny Spain, this lively comedy follows

Cover image: Alessandra Ferri and Carlos Acosta. © Johan Persson.


City of a Thousand Trades

Tyrone Singleton. © Johan Persson.

Music Mathias Coppens Choreography and Co-Director Miguel Altunaga Dramaturg and Co-Director Madeleine Kludje Designs Giulia Scrimieri Lighting Michael Lee-Woolley Poet and Voiceover Casey Bailey, Birmingham Poet Laureate 2020-22

City of a Thousand Trades is supported by the Oakley Charitable Trust and is a Ballet Now commission Ballet Now is generously supported by Oak Foundation’s Special Interest Programme, which provided major funding for the project. Ballet Now is also supported by the Foyle Foundation, The John S Cohen Foundation, and The H Steven and PE Wood Charitable Trust.

Produced in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre World premiere: 10 June 2021, Birmingham Repertory Theatre

For biographies of the creative team visit


© Johan Persson.

MEET MIGUEL ALTUNAGA Deborah Weiss speaks to Miguel Altunaga, Choreographer of City of a Thousand Trades Born in Havana, Cuba, Miguel

story! I’m learning a lot about myself,

platform for emerging choreographers.

Altunaga, choreographer, dancer,

how to lead, not to do too much or

There was an idea to do something

photographer and film maker,

too little, finding a balance. Also

that really represents the city. It’s not

best known in the UK for his long

things about scheduling, planning,

only Birmingham, but I wanted to

association with Rambert, recently

meetings – it’s big because it’s a very

make something that audiences could

premiered his first commission for

important company. I’m very proud to

connect to their own city and own

Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of a

be here actually! Ideally I would like to

journey. Birmingham has this name

Thousand Trades, which is described as

continue to dance and choreograph,

in the UK but also across the world.

a love letter to the city of Birmingham.

but to be honest, I really enjoy seeing

It’s known as the workshop of the

dancers and artists doing my work. I

world, with all the opportunities that it

love collaborating and creating.

offers. It’s a city that embraces people’s

When we talked, before the June premiere, he claimed he’d not been

dreams, realises their ambitions. It

sleeping well. ‘As a choreographer,

‘The commission came about because

becomes more emotional, not just

the responsibility is a whole different

I submitted a proposal to Ballet Now, a

about bricks and mortar, but more


human, about the people. What do you trade for a better life?’ The music is an original score by Belgian composer Mathias Coppens. He has managed to reference the different cultural backgrounds within the city, alongside Heavy Metal. Altunaga explains, ‘It’s basically a classical score but it also embraces the different communities. I always try to create a friendship, good chemistry, an honesty where he is allowed to tell me what he thinks and I do the same. When we are working, we’re focused on something that is greater than ourselves. We talked every evening about what to keep, what needed changing. I have also spent hours with Madeleine [Kludje, dramaturg and co-Director from Birmingham Repertory Theatre], trying to work out how to put together something that is cohesive – because I

Yijing Zhang and Brandon Lawrence. © Johan Persson.

want the audience to connect with the piece, with the music, with the dancers and feel that they could be there, be one of them. It’s a challenge because I love things that are abstract, but it’s good for me to work with something that has more literal moments, to get the audience back with me.’ To date, Altunaga has worked mostly within the contemporary genre. It was interesting to discover that he finds ballet dancers thrilling to work with. ‘I

“I want the audience to connect with the piece, with the music, with the dancers and feel that they could be there, be one of them”

love every dance form. My experience is that ballet dancers are able to do everything as long as you coach them workshops. They were so eager, it

musicality, emotions and I know I

was great. We tried to create a cast

have basic things that I go towards,

‘As a choreographer, you physicalise

where there is no hierarchy because

but I really want every single piece I

everything, so they can see what

it’s about the people of the city, so it’s

do to have its own personality. Each

you want. I’ve always loved classical

very diverse. I also wanted a sense of

piece should have its message and it

ballet and thought one day I would

community. It’s about growth, dreams.

shouldn’t be about me. It’s much bigger

well, with the right energy.

than me.’

be in this position, but in order for them to understand me, I first have to

‘It’s the biggest project I’ve ever done.

understand them. With contemporary

I’m very positive about it but the best

choreographers, they set you tasks

thing is that I’m learning a lot. The

and you find your own voice. Classical

atmosphere in the studio is fantastic,

dancers wait to be told what to do. You

they all work so hard – that’s what

are the choreographer, they are the

I will take with me. It’s been a great

dancer. It’s amazing! The craft

experience, it couldn’t be better.

really sharpens. We did a lot of drama

‘I have my goals. I love the physicality,

Deborah Weiss is a former principal dancer who danced primarily with London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet) and the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich. Since 1993 she has been a freelance dance writer and critic.



Amy Stutz speaks to Madeleine Kludje, Co-Producer of City of a Thousand Trades

‘What do you trade to build a

ballet at all and have felt like there has

new life?’ asks City of a Thousand

always been a barrier there, can use this

Trades. Described as a love letter

as a way to get into it. ‘They will get to

to Birmingham, it’s a celebration of

see a ballet that speaks their language

the city’s richly diverse cultural and

because it’s about connection. We hope

industrial heritage.

people see themselves within the story. ‘We got a real insight into people’s

I spoke to Madeleine Kludje, Associate

experience of Birmingham, and we’ve

Director at The REP, and Dramaturg

used elements of those testimonies

and Co-Director of this new ballet,

within the music of the show.’

about how the city inspired this show. Composed by Mathias Coppens, ‘City of a Thousand Trades looks at the

it isn’t music you’d usually expect

thousands of people who have traded

from a ballet. To carry the narrative,

something to be here. Whether that’s

Mathias has creatively intertwined the

for a better life, or just a different life,’

testimonies with spoken word from

says Madeleine. ‘When people move to

Birmingham Poet Laureate Casey

a new city and they have so much hope

Bailey and sounds within the city.

– hope to build that life that they want.

‘Yes, we have strings because we have

We explore those people’s dreams and

an orchestra playing,’ Madeleine

aspirations in this show.’

explains. ‘But we also have electric guitar which nods to Ozzy Osborne

This ballet tells the story of how

and the heavy metal influence on the

Birmingham became known as the City

city. Everything you’ll hear links to

of a Thousand Trades at the height

Birmingham in some way’.

“This piece

is about Birmingham but it’s about all cities as well. Every city can connect in some way, as it portrays the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful”

of the Industrial Revolution. Skilled workers migrated to the city from

‘We look at City of a Thousand Trades

throughout the Commonwealth,

in the very literal sense because

creating a melting-pot of cultures and

Birmingham was known for the silk

the city we know today.

trade and the metal industries. We have percussionists on stage that make

Over the course of 20 years, Oral

sounds that represent the factory trade

Historian Helen Lloyd interviewed

in Birmingham. This really creates the

hundreds of different people around

feeling of building a city.’

Birmingham. ‘It was about getting their experiences of what it means to

The dancers, just like Director of

be in Birmingham,’ says Madeleine.

Birmingham Royal Ballet Carlos Acosta,

‘We looked at Lloyd’s interviews and

have fed their stories into the piece too.

interviewed people ourselves.’ These

They’ve lived these experiences moving

stories then shaped this powerful new

to Birmingham to achieve their dreams.

ballet. ‘Carlos was talking to me about how ‘Miguel and I wanted to hone in on

important it is to do a ballet like this,

the storytelling,’ explains Madeleine.

to talk about what people have traded,

‘People who love going to the ballet will

for people to see themselves and their

love this. But people who don’t go to the

experiences reflected on stage,’ says


Technical credits Scenic construction/painting Birmingham Repertory Theatre / Scottfleary Model maker Patrick Cahill Draughtsperson Simon Oliver Oral Historian Consultant Helen Lloyd Costume makers Phil Reynolds Dyeing Sheila White Costume Supervisor Elaine Garlick Production Managers Ben Leveson / David Pritchard

Shuailun Wu. © Johan Persson.

Madeleine. ‘He really connected with

‘This piece is about Birmingham but

‘People think it’s the bricks and mortar

the piece and the emotional journey

it’s about all cities as well. Every city

that make a city, but it’s the people. City

as he reflected on when he first moved

can connect in some way, as it portrays

of a Thousand Trades is a love letter to

to the UK from Cuba, not being able to

the good, the bad, the ugly and the

the people that make this city and the

speak a word of English and learning to


way we all connect, because together

fit into a new environment.

we will thrive.’ ‘We want people to connect

‘I’ve learnt through working on this

emotionally with the stories in this

piece that we all go through the same

ballet. To remember that feeling when

feelings and emotions when moving

they first came to the city and what

to a new city. Because we want to do

they went through to build their life

better, for ourselves and for our families

here. It’s not easy, it’s hard work and we

and to fit in.

all experience the highs and lows.

Amy Stutz is an arts and culture writer based in the West Midlands. Amy runs a successful blog that champions the best in theatre and cultural events across the UK.


THE MUSIC Mathias Coppens, Composer of City of a Thousand Trades

“Well, the

electric guitars were inspired by Black Sabbath, that says enough I think! ”

At the same time we wanted soulful

The score uses a lot of unusual

strings and the cool of electric guitars.

percussion, how was it writing for

All these elements had to blend

all the different instruments – did

together and mix with electronics,

these provide particular challenges?

quite a cocktail of elements! The most

It was a challenge, not only to find an

difficult task was to go organically from

interesting way to combine all these

one scene to another implementing

different sounds and playing technics,

musical material that would connect

but also because the two percussionists

these different worlds and create a

are on these big towers, far from the


other players, not being able to really communicate with the conductor.

The soundtrack is influenced by Birmingham’s industrial heritage –

There’s also not a lot of space for

how did you approach this?

music stands, so they basically have to

Well, the electric guitars were inspired

memorise everything, which I’m really

You compose extensively concert

by Black Sabbath, that says enough

impressed by! And then I also had to do

and film music, is this your first

I think! The score also has a massive

research in how I had to write for non-

commission for ballet?

percussion set up, the instruments are

Western instruments, which patterns

I have written different kinds of music,

broadly divided into two categories,

would work on, for example, a doumbek

including concert music, soundtracks,

with metal instruments representing

or a riq, not really in my comfort zone

theatre and opera. Together with

the trades, and drums representing

being a pianist myself.

conductor Michiel Delanghe, I have

the global ethnic diversity that exists

an ensemble for contemporary music,

within Birmingham. We have an anvil

It also didn’t help that we had to make

completely dedicated to music theatre.

that represents the smithing and large

the entire show using zoom, because

But this is my first opportunity to write

metal industry and a small anvil used

Kevin Earley has a lot of unique

a ballet piece, which I’m grateful for.

in the jewellery business, there is a

instruments, which I could only check

brake drum (from a van) that represents

out online. It’s pretty amazing that

Coming from Belgium and growing

Birmingham’s famous motor industry,

before the premiere in June I’d never

up with the work of Anne Teresa De

there is also a washing machine drum

met Kevin, or anyone else from the

Keersmaeker and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

representing electrical engineering,

creative team – this show is a real

this is a dream come true. As a pianist

a railway track, some scaffold pipes,

pandemic baby!

I did accompany dancers at the Royal

because we’re literally constructing a

Conservatory in Antwerp, so I know

city on stage, and we have bottles which

What have you enjoyed most about

some insight into ballet.

are obviously referring to glass making

the collaboration with Miguel,

and brewing.

Madeleine and the rest of the team?

What sort of musical challenges did

We had so many online meetings and

this present?

On the other hand all the different

for some unique reason there was

Miguel told me his approach would

drums represents the different

always so much energy coming out

be very cinematic, but he also wanted

communities in the city, orchestral

of my computer screen. It is really an

an intense and very physical show.

percussion for the UK or Europe in

honour to work with such a bunch of

We almost immediately agreed on

general, roto toms for North America, a

super-talented and creative people who

a lot of percussion, since he’s also a

surdo for Latin America (Brazil), bongos

are at the same time kind, humble and

percussionist and as a Cuban he speaks

(Cuba!), djembe for Africa, doumbek for

caring. This is definitely not the last

the language of rhythm very well.

the Middle East and a dagu for Asia.

show we will make together!


For a biography of Matthias Coppens and the creative team visit

When we see beyond borders we see opportunity everywhere. Visit


Haoliang Feng. © Johan Persson.

Imminent Music Paul Englishby Choreography Daniela Cardim Design April Dalton Lighting Peter Teigen Dramaturg Lou Cope Assistant Choreographer Peter Leung

World premiere: 10 June 2021, Birmingham Repertory Theatre


The London performances of Imminent are supported by

Imminent is a Ballet Now commission Ballet Now is generously supported by Oak Foundation’s Special Interest Programme, which provided major funding for the project. Ballet Now is also supported by the Foyle Foundation, The John S Cohen Foundation, and The H Steven and PE Wood Charitable Trust.

MEET DANIELA CARDIM Diane Parkes speaks to Daniela Cardim, Choreographer of Imminent

Eilis Small. © Johan Persson.

Imminent explores the sensation of

‘At the same time you saw political

knowing that something isn’t right, that

polarisation increasing everywhere

something inside is pulling at us, and

and it felt like the world was stepping

it’s telling us we need to make change.

backwards, that people were losing

Though the world around us seems to

dialogue and connection.’

be flowing harmoniously, sometimes we need to listen to our instincts, resist

Daniela and Dramaturg Lou Cope then

the status quo and find the strength to

needed to distil this sense of unease

see opportunities in paths unknown,

into a broad theme that could inspire

embracing both the fear and the hope

this new abstract work.

as we do so. ‘I couldn’t do a ballet about climate The initial inspiration grew out of

change, it’s too big a subject and we

Daniela’s concerns about climate

wanted to create a more abstract

change and extreme politics.

work, but Lou and I realised that what we were really talking about

‘I’m from Brazil and when we started

was a situation where we can sense

discussing this work there were these

something bad will happen, yet we

terrible fires in the Amazon forests

choose to ignore it until it’s too late.

“There’s a window of opportunity and we can make a positive change if enough people choose to act.”

and I had been reading all these articles about climate change and

‘This could happen with anything, with

how politicians were making wrong

climate change or even with disease,

decisions about that. It felt so urgent

when all of a sudden you get sick and

and yet no one seemed to be doing

your life changes and there is nothing


you can do but deal with it. You have to

For a biographies of the creative team visit


© Johan Persson.

make a change, to take risks, to adapt.

working in the supermarkets. Hopefully

worked with a great team who each

Even if it’s scary. It’s strange because we

now we don’t take them for granted as

bring their own expertise to the work.

were talking about this before COVID

much and there is a bit more kindness

Paul Englishby’s music is epic, with


and caring for people. COVID is a

touching melodies, Lou Cope helped

tragedy but hopefully we can learn

me shape what I wanted to say and

COVID’s impact on Imminent was

that we need to respect each other, be

how we could translate that into dance,

immediate. ‘We were about to start

kinder to each other – that we need

April Dalton has created some beautiful

rehearsals last year when COVID


designs, and it has been brilliant to be

happened and everything was

able to work through choreographic

postponed until further notice,’ Daniela

And this new sense of hope has filtered

ideas with Peter Leung. It’s also been

recalls. With the easing of lockdown

into Imminent. ‘If people start to

great to have lighting designer Peter

restrictions, the team returned to

acknowledge the problem, they can

Teigen involved with the project from

work this spring. But the worldwide

begin to address it. And thus now

day one. It’s been a long journey for

pandemic and its effects on people led

we see the inspiration for the piece

all of us, but our relationships, and

Daniela and Lou to re-think some of the

through the lens of people gradually

hopefully the work, has deepened

emphasis in Imminent.

facing up to the need to change,’

because of that.’

says Daniela. ‘There’s a window of ‘We thought about what COVID had

opportunity and we can make a positive

Diane Parkes is a freelance journalist

taught us. It is, of course, a terrible

change if enough people choose to act.’

specialising in the arts. A reporter for more than 30 years, she has worked for

thing but we learned that, if we work together, we can make a difference.

Born in Rio de Janeiro and now based

newspapers, magazines, online and arts

COVID made it more evident than ever

in London, Daniela danced with Ballet

organisations locally and nationally.

that it’s possible to make a change, but

do Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro

we need enough people to choose to

for five years and with Dutch National

do it. So, for example, if everyone locks

Ballet for 11 years before turning her

down then the number of COVID cases

talents to choreography. For Daniela,

comes down but you need everyone to

one of the benefits of this project has

do it for this to work.’

been the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals.

‘And we realised how we depend on people who we took for granted. We

‘Very often, when choreographing,

need nurses, we need people on the

I have worked with only a designer

front line, people growing crops and

and the dancers. For Imminent I have


Technical credits Production Manager Paul Moore Costume makers Parkinson Gill, Phil Reynolds Dyeing and Printing Sheila White Costume Supervisor Elaine Garlick

THE MUSIC Composer Paul Englishby tells us about his score for Imminent How did you go about reflecting some of the ideas and themes of the ballet in the music? In the case of Imminent, we spent a long time discussing what we wanted to express all together, choreographically, musically, design and lighting wise. The piece began in early conversations as a study of the elements fire, water, earth and air, and through brainstorming how we could resonate with a current audience we found ourselves talking about climate change among other things. We wanted to explore the idea of beginning with harmony and order, and that being disrupted, upset or infected somehow, and the ensuing disorder and chaos, ending enigmatically with a possibility of hope; that nature or life will find a way back. So the piece could be a metaphor for our earth and our effect on it through over consumption; it could also reflect a disease of the body or mind, or a

Alexander Yap and Eilis Small. © Johan Persson.

virus; little did we know when we began that our very plans would be

What are the joys and challenges of

view; it’s been fascinating. Daniela is

disrupted and thrown into disorder by

writing for dance? Is it very different

extremely inclusive and encourages

a pandemic. So musically the structure

from composing scores for film or

open discussion. Once our idea was

is as above, beginning with a steady


fairly concrete, I wrote an initial draft

repeated ground bass over which

One of the joys is that the music comes

and made a demo, after which Daniela

a long canon grows and multiplies

first, before the choreography, so it’s

has had requests for extending, cutting,

like natural growth, representing the

a little like writing a score for a film

or further development, and we

Earth, possibly, and harmony. The

before the pictures arrive. There is

eventually arrived at the piece that I

development of that material gets

freedom to express, within a pre-

then orchestrated.

disrupted, chopped up, disarranged,

organised but flexible structure, which

and eventually destruction is described

is just about the ideal way to write for

Have you got any future plans to

in the orchestra. After which there is a


compose for ballet/dance?

barren spacious landscape from which

I’m lucky enough to work regularly

a small idea creeps through allowing for

What have you enjoyed most about

with choreographer Will Tuckett, and

the possibility of hope.

working collaboratively with Daniela

we have some plans for work next year,

and the team?

and I would obviously love to work with

Very lovely people, and always through

Daniela again, it’s been a joy.

the process of deciding what we are hoping to produce, we have all had our say and expressed our points of

For a biography of Paul Englishby visit


© Johan Persson.

Chacona Music Johan Sebastian Bach, Chorale Prelude No.3 (arranged by Ferruccio Busoni), Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D Minor Choreography Goyo Montero Costume Designs Verena Hemmerlein, Goyo Montero Original Lighting Nicolás Fischtel, Goyo Montero Additional Lighting Peter Teigen Répétiteur Carlos Lázaro Aquillué Assistant to the Choreographer Ivan Gil-Ortega


Piano Jonathan Higgins Guitar Tom Ellis Violin Robert Gibbs World premiere: Ballet Nacional de Sodre in Montevideo, 2017. First performance by Birmingham Royal Ballet: 10 June 2021, Birmingham Repertory Theatre. First performance with additional pas de deux: Birmingham Royal Ballet, 4 November 2021, Sadler’s Wells, London.

DANCING ON THE EDGE Choreographer Goyo Montero talks to David Mead about his ballet Chacona

‘I have always been in love with the Chacona,’ says Goyo Montero of the final movement of Bach’s Partita No.2 in D Minor. ‘The first time I heard it in a concert as a kid, I was blown away. When I started doing choreography, I always wanted to use this music.’ The opportunity came in 2003 when he was commissioned by the Spanish Ministry of Culture to make a work with important Spanish dancers of the time who were working abroad. The resulting Vasos Comunicantes (Communicating Vessels) used different versions of the Partita for violin, guitar and piano for a series of solos, duets and trios before connecting everything

“The piece is like a marathon but it’s also very rewarding. If you give, it’s going to give you something back”

with the Chaconne. Chacona as a stand-alone ballet came about in 2017 when Julio Bocca asked him to stage it for the Ballet Nacional de Sodre in Montevideo. ‘I think it works because it has a natural curve. Musically it has a unity and something compact about it. It also goes through the feeling of the different instruments. It brings the dancers into the feeling of three different worlds.’ Montero explains that while the piece was made for classical dancers, it uses contemporary technique and has a contemporary heart in the sense that it is of now. Like much of his choreography, it is physically very demanding. ‘I do that to bring honesty out. When you are really tired, when you have the challenge of keeping your energy up, you somehow forget your brain. You are just there and in the moment.’ Besides being open, Montero believes that artists, in all the arts,

For biographies of the creative team visit

Haoliang Feng and Yuki Sugiura. © Johan Persson.


Momoko Hirata and Yasuo Atsuji with Pianist Jonathan Higgins. © Johan Persson.

are at their best when they feel a

different for each dancer and each

It’s like a living organism, he says,

tiny bit uncomfortable, a little out

company.’ There’s always room for

perhaps a flock of birds or a shoal of

of their depth. ‘I think it’s the only

personal interpretation too. ‘I think if a

fish, something with a heightened

way to evolve, to transform yourself.

dancer feels regarded as an artist and as

state of mind as a group but also full of

The moment you know what your

someone who brings something to the

individual personalities.

instrument is, it’s somehow over.’

piece more than just doing the steps, then that dancer is going to bring the

While its parent ballet Vasos

With Chacona, he says he tries to bring

work forward by adding something of

Comunicantes has connections with

dancers ‘to the tip of falling. It’s all

their own. It’s not just then my work,

the book of the same title by French

off balance, it’s all about weight and

it becomes their work, their Chacona,

modernist writer André Breton and

tension’. That has to be there from the

something unique to them.’

its ideas around dreams and reality, Montero says Chacona is basically a

first moment to the last, he explains. ‘The piece is like a marathon but it’s

And for these performances there is

way of connecting with the music. ‘I

also very rewarding. If you give, it’s

a new addition, in the shape of a duet

think it has a strong positive vibe that

going to give you something back.’ It

created especially for Carlos Acosta

is needed in this time of isolation, fear,

also connects with audiences, he feels.

and Alessandra Ferri. Also using music

darkness, insecurity. It’s 25 minutes of

‘Some pieces can be obscure and more

by Bach, this pas de deux is intended

pure energy and pure joy. It’s no more

difficult but this piece you can really

to ‘bring in Chacona or give birth to it,’

than that.’

get into. You can be at one with the

reflecting the moods and personalities


of the original piece and strongly connected with it.

Montero adapted the ballet for Birmingham. ‘I am not a choreographer

‘I have always been blown away by

that thinks choreography is sacred.

pieces that make me think and where

It has to fit the dancers. It has to

I can find some storytelling within or

take them to places where they are

that make me associate ideas, colours,

challenged, so it has to be slightly

feelings. I think Chacona is about that.’


David Mead is a choreographer, editor of, and also writes for Dancing Times and a number of international publications Technical credits Additional Costumes Parkinson Gill, Phil Reynolds Costume Supervisor Elaine Garlick

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S AROUND THE CORNER Alessandra Ferri in conversation with Jenny Gilbert

‘Life is full of surprises,’ muses Alessandra Ferri, the great Italianborn ballerina who ‘retired’ in 2007. This week, Ferri, 58, makes her debut with Birmingham Royal Ballet in choreography specially created for her and Carlos Acosta, 48. Their duet forms part of the remarkable Chacona, a work by Goyo Montero that features onstage solo performances by a violinist, a classical guitarist and a pianist alongside the dancers of the Company. Rarely is a choreographer able to draw on such mature and finely developed artistry in a leading couple. The pair first danced together many years ago in Cuba, performing the bedroom pas de deux from Manon for a gala in Havana. ‘Sometimes between dancers there’s an instant connection, a sense of common sensibility,’ says Ferri. ‘Each of you knows you want to work with that person again but then life has other ideas.’ Neither she nor he could have guessed how long they’d have to wait for that next project, still less predict the 18-month delay of the scheduled first performance. But we all know what happened in the spring of 2020. Nonetheless, Ferri found the idea of dancing with Carlos again ‘superappealing’. ‘I think it’s quite special that we’re doing it now, at this stage in our lives when we’re different artists from what we once were. Artistically one never stops developing or getting deeper into what dance is.’ Alessandra Ferri and Carlos Acosta. © Johan Persson


Being a mature artist, continuing to perform when others of one’s generation have long since hung up their pumps, is, she says, ‘interesting, even liberating. You liberate yourself from your own image of what you were in your 30s and 40s and you reach a whole new level that was inconceivable then.’ If that makes it sound easy, she insists it is not. ‘It’s very painful dealing with the fact that you can’t do certain things any more. It’s like letting go of somebody who has been very dear to you. But as long as you don’t try to replicate what you once were, you can move forward, because it’s your life that you’re telling when you dance. What changes, when you’re older, is how you play the instrument.’ The bald facts are astonishing. Ferri retired from ballet for seven years, then came back. But did she retire, really? She insists that she did. ‘In 2007, I completely stopped dancing. No performances, no class, nothing. But after a couple of years of just enjoying

my life, my kids and whatever [she has two daughters, now grown up], I started to get physical pain. When your body is so highly trained and you suddenly stop, it’s a shock to your whole skeleton. My back hurt, my legs hurt. Basically I didn’t feel healthy at all.’ She was living in New York at the time and thought maybe a few yoga classes might help, and a spot of Pilates. Then once she started feeling a little better she thought she might join a class led by her old ballet teacher. After a couple of years of this, things snowballed. A chance encounter on the street with the veteran New York choreographer Martha Clarke led to her first postretirement performance. ‘I had thought it would be some little thing off-Broadway, but it wasn’t. Then along came Wayne McGregor and asked me to do Woolf Works for The Royal Ballet, then John Neumeier with a project for me in Hamburg. There was no moment when I actually made the decision to return to dancing. One thing just led to another.’

So, as a distant observer, what does she make of the recent transitions in Carlos Acosta’s career? ‘Well, for a start, he’s a total catch for Birmingham!’ she says without hesitation. ‘I always considered myself very lucky in that when I joined ABT [American Ballet Theatre] my director was Mikhail Baryshnikov, and I see Carlos very much in that mould. When you have a great dancer as a director in the company, it’s very inspiring for a young dancer. You have that great example in front of you. And like Baryshnikov, Carlos brings experience of different ballet cultures to his directorship, and that’s a big plus for the dancers too.’ As for her own plans, Ferri says she doesn’t make them. ‘You never know what’s around the corner. You think something is over, and then you find it’s not.’ Jenny Gilbert is a dance journalist, critic and writer.

© Johan Persson.


Charles Stanley is proud to support

Birmingham Royal Ballet Charles Stanley is one of the UK’s leading Wealth Management firms, providing bespoke investment portfolios and tailored financial advice at every stage of your financial journey. Working with charities, institutions, professional advisers and individual clients, we have created financial security for many tens of thousands of people throughout our 200 year history.

Find out how we can help you secure your financial future.

0121 314 7966 The value of investments can fall as well as rise. Investors may get back less than invested. Charles Stanley & Co. Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys We provide clear, sensible and practical advice to clients looking to protect their intellectual property. We believe in cutting through the complexity of IP and delivering our advice in plain, jargon-free language - a language you'll understand. Proud supporters of BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET T: 0121 236 0484



GET CLOSER: BECOME A SUPPORTER Becoming part of our Dancers’ Circle or BRB Friends is a hugely rewarding and engaging way to support the work of Birmingham Royal Ballet. Your support will help us deliver our extraordinary work, on stage and in communities, and will help ensure the future success of the Company.

As a thank you we offer our supporters a programme of benefits that include:

• Priority booking or a concierge-style ticket booking service* • Exclusive online events • Invitations to rehearsals, insight events and pre-show receptions* • Our annual supporters’ magazine • Regular e-newsletters * Dependent on level of support


Taking every chance to dance Welcome to your Events Calendar

Sarah Crompton catches up with Carlos Acosta and Caroline Miller

You never know what’s around the corner

We have curated a range of free events which you can enjoy from the comfort of your house via Zoom. Events include:

Tea with…

Back to the future

An opportunity to socialise with our fantastic dancers, musicians and production team, and to ask any questions you might have about their careers.

To Book Events To book any of the events, simply visit Birmingham Royal Ballet website All online events are free, but please book your space and details of how to join the event will be emailed to you.

Dancers’ Circle roundtable Guests from across Birmingham Royal Ballet will give an insight into their careers and experiences within the arts.

Jenny Gilbert talks to Alessandra Ferri

Exclusive Supporters’ talks First Soloist, Jonathan Payn, in conversation with guests.

and more... December 2020 – April 2021

Autumn 2021

Autumn 2020

For more information and to become a Supporter visit

Beatrice Parma and Brandon Lawrence © Sam Robinson

WELCOME: CHARLOTTE POLITI The Royal Ballet Sinfonia’s new Constant Lambert Fellowship Conductor tells us about her passion for music.

Named after the Founding Music Director of the Royal Ballet companies, the Constant Lambert Fellowship is a joint initiative with The Royal Ballet designed for conductors aspiring to gain the particular skills required to conduct for ballet. The mentoring is led by Koen Kessels, Music Director of both companies, and Paul Murphy, our Principal Conductor. This autumn we are delighted to welcome Charlotte Politi.

How did you discover your passion

What are your memories of your first

for conducting?

professional engagement?

As a child I loved playing in orchestras.

My first professional engagement was

Later I became passionate about

in opera. I loved the feeling of being

scores, recordings of orchestral music.

involved in a theatre production that

Conducting came slowly and naturally

includes not only music, but also stage

to me. I can’t think of a specific

direction, costume design, set design,

moment where I decided I wanted to

and so forth. Conducting a show of

become a conductor. Now when I think

over three hours flew by, because of

back, it seems it’s something I always

how everybody was so connected in the

wanted to do, even before I could put in

story telling.

words what it means to be a conductor. What do you hope to get out of the How did that lead to conducting for



I hope to learn from every musician, to

What attracted me to ballet is the

be inspired by every artist I will get to

wonderful repertoire. Furthermore,

work with. I hope I will be able to give a

I’ve always liked the idea of working in

positive constructive contribution and

collaboration with art forms other than

at the same time to develop my skills

music. I love the theatre company life,

and grow in my profession.

and the spirit of collaboration between arts.

“Charlotte is a very talented young conductor I am looking forward to mentoring her throughout this unique process and observing her development in the speciality of conducting for dance.’’ Paul Murphy, Principal Conductor 19

BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET Director Carlos Acosta cbe Assistant Director Dominic Antonucci Chief Executive Officer Caroline Miller obe Acting Chief Executive Officer Anna Williams fca, dcha Music Director and Conductor Koen Kessels Birmingham Royal Ballet Board of Directors Sir David Normington gcb Chair Barry Allen Marverine Cole Anthony Coombs Sandra Crossley Michael Elliott Jane Hackett Shireenah Ingram Jeanetta Laurence obe Christine Ondimu Hemma Patel Councillor Carl Rice Deborah Spence

BALLET STAFF Senior Répétiteur Michael O’Hare Répétiteur Carmen Piqueras Rehearsal Director & Coach Marion Tait Benesh Choreologist / Video Archivist Patricia Tierney DANCERS Principals Yasuo Atsuji Tzu-Chao Chou Mathias Dingman Samara Downs Maternity leave Céline Gittens Momoko Hirata Brandon Lawrence César Morales

Enrique Bejarno Vidal Anna Ciriano Rosanna Ely Ryan Felix Callum Findlay-White Tori Forsyth-Hecken August Generalli Miles Gilliver Josue Gomez Sarria Tessa Hogge Isabella Howard Regan Hutsell Sofia Liñares Hannah Martin Apprentice Eric Pinto Cata Emma Price Matilde Rodrigues Javier Rojas Hamish Scott

Yuki Sugiura

Kit Holder

Miki Mizutani


Alexandra Burman

First Soloists

Anna Williams fca, dcha Company Secretary

Honorary Secretary

Louis Andreasen

Eilis Small

Yvette Knight

Jacqueline Mistry

Gabriel Anderson

Tyrone Singleton

Ian Squires

Governors of the Royal Ballet Companies and School Dame Sue Owen Chair Leanne Benjamin am obe Vice-Chair Sir Matthew Bourne obe Anne Bulford obe Hilary S. Carty bma ccmi Lady Alison Deighton Stephen Jefferies Jeanetta Laurence obe Iain Mackay Sir David Normington gcb Derek Purnell Luke Ritter cbe Christopher Rodrigues cbe David Ross Lindsay Tomlinson obe


Rory Mackay Valentin Olovyannikov Jonathan Payn Artistic Enrichment Officer Yaoqian Shang Soloists Laura Day Karla Doorbar Yu Kurihara Max Maslen Lachlan Monaghan Beatrice Parma Yijing Zhang First Artists Reina Fuchigami Haoliang Feng Gus Payne Rachele Pizzillo Alys Shee Daria Stanciulescu

Lennert Steegen Lynsey Sutherland Amelia Thompson Lucy Waine Shuailun Wu Alexander Yap ROYAL BALLET SINFONIA Principal Conductor Paul Murphy Conductor Philip Ellis Guest Conductor Martin Georgiev Constant Lambert Conducting Fellowship Charlotte Politi First Violins Robert Gibbs Leader Vanessa David Amanda Brown Deborah Schlenther Philip Aird Caroline Ferriman

Second Violins Rebecca Jones Mary Martin Fiona Robertson Robert Simmons Violas Errika Horsley Chris Pitsillides Cellos Antonio Novais Jane Rainey Double Basses Vera Pereira Maternity leave

Alan Taylor Flute Sandra Skipper Piccolo Oboe Maxwell Spiers Cor anglais Clarinets Ian Scott Harry Penny Bassoon Llinos Owen Contra bassoon Horns Andrew Littlemore Neil Mitchell Chris Pointon Trumpets Michael Allen Christopher Deacon Trombone Amos Miller Tuba David Gordon Shute Timpani Grahame King Percussion Kevin Earley Paul Parker Company Pianists Matthew Drury Ross Williams Jeanette Wong

Chief Commercial Officer Paul James BRAND, MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Director of Sales and Marketing Janina Mundy Head of Marketing Kate Howells Marketing Executive – Campaigns Kesha Beaupierre Marketing Executive – Audience Joe Palfrey PR & Media Executive Lauren Morton Creative Digital Producer Tom Rogers Senior Design Executive Lee Armstrong Design Executives Vicki Costin Matt Davis Social Media Executive Tia Cham LEARNING, ENGAGEMENT, ACCESS & PARTICIPATION Director of Learning, Access, Engagement & Participation Pearl Chesterman Head of Creative Learning Lee Fisher Participation Manager Rebecca Brookes

Anna Hodgkinson


Trusts & Foundations Officer Rhianna Swancott

Clinical Director Nick Allen phd msc mcsp srp

Individual Giving Manager Chris Smith

Company Physiotherapists Esther Collacott mcsp srp Khushnum Pastakia mcsp srp

Development Events Manager Hope McGoldrick

Masseur Jason Boyle

Individual Giving & Events Officer Ella Cockerton Corporate Partnerships Officer Emma Thompson

Stage Technicians Paul Fisher-Bazan Tom Reilly Alex Bacciochi Paton Lighting Design Consultant Peter Teigen Head of Lighting Johnny Westall-Eyre Deputy Head of Lighting Andy Wilson Senior Lighting Technicians Alastair Phillips Andy Rumble Lighting Technicians Scott Smith Marcus Trombley Apprentice

Human Resources Director Claire Owen

Executive Producer Abigail Reeve


Finance Manager Kamla Korotane

Head of Costume / Costume Supervisor Elaine Garlick

Senior Human Resources Administrator Sam Howe

Systems & Management Accountant Finance Jocelyn Addlington

Costume Production Coordinator Vanda Hewston

Human Resources Administrator Tania Muthuparakunnel

Finance Officers Deseree GreenawayWilliams Ruth Whelan

Production Costume Cutter & Maker Anna Willetts

Receptionist & Administrator Karen Fisher Business Administration Apprentice Lucy Tranter Health, Safety, Facilities & Risk Manager Oliver Drain Facilities Co-ordinator Glenn Rudge Caretaker Philip Pearsall COMPANY OFFICE

Participation Coordinator Katherine Field

Company Manager Will Mauchline Sabbatical

Engagement Coordinator Hannah MacGregor

Acting Company Manager Tristan Rusdale


Acting Assistant Company Manager Leanne Ward

Senior Manager – Trusts & Foundations

Chief Operating Officer Anna Williams fca, dcha FINANCE & PROJECTS

Engagement Manager Kasia Kraus

Director of Development Matt Freeman

Medical Advisors Bellevue Medical Centre

Senior Stage Technician Steve Hegan

Finance Assistant Charlotte Rowley ORCHESTRA STAFF Orchestra Director John Beadle Orchestra Manager Andrew Bentley TECHNICAL Technical Director Paul Grace Senior Stage Manager Diana Childs Deputy Stage Manager Eliska Robenn Assistant Stage Manager Gracie Adlington

Production Costume Technician Joanna Shilton Touring Costume Manager Shermaine Goucol Costume Technicians Lucy Cook Rebecca Jones Jennifer Priestly Gabrielle Raven Shoe Supervisor Michael Clifford Head of Wigs Lauren FitzGerald Deputy Head of Wigs Fay Johnson Wigs Assistant Lizzie Mcquire

Head of Scenic Presentation Doug Nicholson


Head of Stage Ben Leveson

PA to CEO & Director Jessica Rupert

Deputy Head of Stage Paul Moore

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s repertory is recorded in Benesh Movement Notation by qualified choreologists trained at the Benesh International, 36 Battersea Square, London SW11 3RA



© Ty Singleton.

Major Supporters

Aud Jebsen The Michael Bishop Foundation Oak Foundation

Principal Sponsor

Special Project Supporters Carol Barrie Jayne Cadbury and Nigel Goodman* Charles Glanville and James Hogan The Kirby Laing Foundation David and Mary Laing Sir Michael and Joan Perry *unrestricted


Dancers’ Circle – Principal Julia and Anthony Glossop Tony Newcombe Dancers’ Circle – Soloist Jill and Andrew Chapman CMP Wealth Management Richard and Jennie Cunis Maureen Kirby Marian Mulady Sally Rowe Gillian Shaw John Weston Dancers’ Circle – Artist Philip Baldwin and Phillip Arnold Jenny Batelen and Rob Brett Roger and Felicity Burman Amanda Carter Dr Jim Clews Guy and Judy Crofts Irving and Olga David Sandra Davison Robyn Durie Susan and Frederick Furniss Tessa Gillespie Prof Caroline Gordon P.S. and C.A. Gravestock Wendy and Gordon Hardy Jill and Malcolm Harris Tom Hotchkiss Dr Sandra Kendall

Tessa and Charles King-Farlow Shirley Leaver Hilary Macaulay Chantelle Mackay Shaaron and Andrew Morgan Robert and Eleanor Nagle Katie Newbon Linda Nicholls Sir David and Lady Win Normington Rosemary Perl Keith Perry Amanda & Emily Pillinger Chris Relph Ross Roberts Carole Sallnow Barbara Scott Miles Scott and Lucille Roughley Margaret Shand Su and Richard Simkin Carla and Dilys Skinner Mark & Amanda Smith Nick Makin and Brenda Sumner Brian & Susannah Swindell Ron & Jackie Treverton-Jones and our many individual supporters who prefer to remain anonymous.

Trusts and Foundations

The Alan Woodfield Charitable Trust The Alison Hillman Charitable Trust Amar-Franses and Foster-Jenkins Trust The Arts Society Birmingham The Aspinwall Educational Trust The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust Baron Davenport’s Charity Bayfield Charitable Trust BHSF Medical Charity and Welfare Trust The Bernard Piggott Charitable Trust The Boshier-Hinton Foundation The Brian Shaw Memorial Trust The Britford Bridge Trust The Calleva Foundation The Cecil King Memorial Foundation The Charles Brotherton Trust The Chatwin Trust Clare King Charitable Trust The Clore Duffield Foundation The John S Cohen Foundation The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust Dumbreck Charity The Edgar E Lawley Foundation Ensix Charitable Trust Eric W Vincent Trust Fund Eveson Charitable Trust George Fentham Birmingham Charity The George Henry Collins Charity GJW Turner Trust The Goodenough Charitable Trust The Grantham Yorke Trust The Grey Court Trust The Grimmitt Trust The H Steven and P E Wood Charitable Trust The Hawthorne Charitable Trust The Helen Rachael Mackaness Charitable Trust Henry James Sayer Charity The Idlewild Trust IMI Critical Engineering Charitable Appeals Committee The James Frederick and Ethel Anne Measures Charity The John Avins Trust

The John Thaw Foundation Langdale Trust Limoges Charitable Trust London Ballet Circle The Loppylugs and Barbara Morrison Charitable Trust The Lord Austin Trust M K Rose Charitable Trust The Marchus Trust Marsh Charitable Trust The Michael Marsh Charitable Trust Michael Watson Charitable Trust The Oakley Charitable Trust Owen Family Trust The Patricia Routledge Charitable Trust The Peter and Teresa Harris Charitable Trust Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire PRS Foundation Quayle Charitable Trust Richard Cadbury Charitable Trust The Roger and Douglas Turner Charitable Trust The Roughley Charitable Trust The Rowlands Trust RPS Drummond Fund The Rix-Thompson-Rothenberg Foundation/Baily Thomas Charitable Fund The RVW Trust The S and D Lloyd Charity Sabina Sutherland Charitable Trust The Saintbury Trust Scops Arts Trust Souter Charitable Trust St Jude’s Trust St Thomas’ Dole Charity Stanley Picker Trust The Sterry Family Foundation The Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust

Corporate Supporters Charles Stanley The Grand Hotel National Express Nicholls Brimble Bhol Price Pearson (Taxwise) Forresters

The Thistle Trust The Uncle Bill Trust The Vandervell Foundation W E D Charitable Trust The Wilmcote Charitrust and those trusts and foundations that prefer to remain anonymous.

The John Sumner Trust

For full lists of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s generous supporters visit



THE NUTCRACKER 28 – 31 December 2021 7 performances only



‘…wonder and spectacle’

‘The biggest Nutcracker in London’

24 Birmingham Royal Ballet is registered charity No.1061012 and is funded by

PERFORMANCE CALENDAR The Beauty of Ballet Dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet join the

Carlos Acosta’s

Don Quixote

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Wednesday 10 November, 7.30pm

Thursday 10 – Saturday 12 February

Royal Albert Hall

Mayflower Theatre Southampton

The Nutcracker

Friday 18 – Saturday 26 February

20 November – 11 December

Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Hippodrome Wednesday 2 – Saturday 5 March

The Nutcracker

The Lowry, Salford

28 – 31 December

Royal Albert Hall

Thursday 10 – Saturday 12 March Sunderland Empire Wednesday 16 – Saturday 19 March Theatre Royal Plymouth

Our specialists listen to your requirements and always put your needs first. We leave the drama on the stage.

Proud supporter of Birmingham Royal Ballet


01384 456 780