sat 22/06/2024

Birmingham Royal Ballet, 2013-14 Season | reviews, news & interviews

Birmingham Royal Ballet, 2013-14 Season

Birmingham Royal Ballet, 2013-14 Season

A new Prince of the Pagodas and a light-hearted outlook on lean times

Peerless beauty: BRB's Sleeping Beauty is the handsomest in the country

A new ballet on Benjamin Britten's The Prince of the Pagodas headlines Birmingham Royal Ballet's announcement of its 2013-14 season. David Bintley is tackling a tricky score that Britten wrote originally for John Cranko in 1957, and later taken up by Kenneth MacMillan in his 1989 ballet staging for the Royal Ballet. Designed by War Horse designer Rae Smith, the ballet will premiere next February at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Originally created for National Ballet of Japan in 2011, it tells of a princess who resists her wicked stepmother's attempts to marry her off and instead follows a salamander into a fantastical love story.

Other enticements to the ballet in the Midlands include two of the best classical productions in Britain, BRB's opulent Sleeping Beauty and its spellbinding Nutcracker, while Ashton's deathlessly charming La fille mal gardée brightens the summer.

An all-Ashton bill, an all-Bintley bill and a triple of comic classics makes a bright response to lean times for those looking beyond full-length classics, and the season also provides an inquiring musical perspective with William Walton and Matthew Hindson among those whose scores will be played, as well as Britten.


The season in full

The Sleeping Beauty - 25-28 September, Lowry, Salford; 8-12 October, Birmingham Hippodrome; 17-19 October, Sadler's Wells, London; 24-26 October, Sunderland Empire Theatre; 31 October-2 November, Plymouth Theatre Royal. With a classical score by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Marius Petipa, The Sleeping Beauty is one of the greatest ballets from Imperial Russia, and BRB has a spectacular production by its former director Sir Peter Wright, sumptuously designed by Philip Prowse and lighting by Mark Jonathan.

Tombeaux / E=mc² / "Still Life" at the Penguin Café - 3-5 October, Birmingham Hippodrome; 15-16 October, Sadler's Wells London; 29-30 October, Plymouth Theatre Royal. Three of David Bintley's best, the gorgeous darkling Walton work Tombeaux, with inky Jasper Conran designs, his astronomy-inspired E=mc² (a great score by young Matthew Hindson), and the popular yet poignant Penguin Café, with its endangered animals seeking refuge not in Noah's Ark but in a cocktail bar.

The Nutcracker, 22 November-12 December, Birmingham Hippodrome. An unparalleled and world-famous production by Peter Wright, with stunning designs by John F Macfarlane, and a score that resident orchestra the Royal Ballet Sinfonia always does justice to.

Card Game / Slaughter on Tenth Avenue / Elite Syncopations - 19-22 February 2014, Birmingham Hippodrome. "Three of a Kind" is a triple bill of amusing classics from three masters of choreography: John Cranko, George Balanchine and Kenneth MacMillan. In Cranko's Card Game, a poker game is played out by the cards with allegiances, rivalries and power. Created by the great Balanchine for the Richard Rodgers musical On Your Toes!, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a crazy 1930s comedy as a luckless leading man discovers that the moment he stops dancing he will be shot by a hitman in the audience. In Elite Syncopations, dancers in brilliantly coloured costumes gather for a dance competition as an equally vibrant ragtime band play old favourites from Scott Joplin and his contemporaries.

The Prince of the Pagodas - 25 February-1 March, Birmingham Hippodrome. David Bintley has created an imaginative reworking of a fairy story that celebrates the power of family love. Bintley's staging to Benjamin Britten’s only commissioned ballet score was premiered by the National Ballet of Japan in 2011. Spectacular and imaginative costumes from War Horse designer Rae Smith promise to bring to life the elegance and beauty of the Chrysanthemum Kingdom in the story of Princess Sakura who reacts against the slow disintegration of her once all-powerful father, who has allowed his new wife to take control of his kingdom, by escaping with a Salamander. 

Dante Sonata / Les Rendezvous / Façade - 4-7 June, Birmingham Hippodrome. "Darkness and Light" presents three early works from the founder choreographer of the Royal Ballet companies, Frederick Ashton. Fragile innocence confronts desperate evil in the simple and poignant Dante Sonata, created at the height of World War Two, danced to a passionate, virtuoso score by Franz Liszt. Created in 1933, Les Rendezvous shows friends and acquaintances meeting and dancing together in a park. It has new designs by Anthony Ward. Façade is a deliciously nonsensical parade of characters, based on Edith Sitwell’s poetry, with cows, tango dancers and silly asses.

La Fille mal gardée - 11-15 June,  Birmingham Hippodrome. Ashton's charming masterpiece has been a hit ever since it premiered in 1960, with its simple, engaging love story between naughty Lise and Colas, and immortal characters like the clog-dancing Widow Simone and goofy Alain with his red umbrella. 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.


Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters