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Beauty and the Beast

The Firebird
Raymonda Act III

The Nutcracker


Enigma Variations
'Still Life' at the Penguin Café

The Two Pigeons

The Dance House
The Dream

David Bintley on the 2008-09 season

Part one: autumn

part one | part two | part three | part four | part five | part six

Birmingham Royal Ballet's 2008-09 season in Birmingham was revealed at the start of April 2008, with subscription packages available at the end of the month, and booking for individual tickets opening shortly after. Further details on how to book can be found by clicking here.

While containing a full run-down of the ballets to be performed at Birmingham Hippodrome during the year, the repertory also gives an indication of the pieces that the Company will be touring. Click here to visit the What's on section to find out more.

The autumn season contains two different mixed programmes, one in Birmingham and a slightly different one on tour. David Bintley, Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, explains:

'The problem I've had is that we end the 2008 summer season with a new version of Le Baiser de la Fée by Michael Corder, but it then doesn't tour anywhere,' says David. 'We'd programmed his new work in during the summer, as that was the only time that Michael was available, but there wasn't then the opportunity to tour the piece.

'So presenting the piece in the autumn, when we tour to four or five different venues is an opportunity to let more people see it, as well as Petrushka. But we couldn't repeat them in Birmingham, so we've come up with another programme.'

While touring venues will be presented with the new version of Le Baiser de la Fée and Petrushka, Birmingham audiences will see Kenneth MacMillan's Concerto, and Raymonda Act III, by Rudolph Nureyev after Marius Petipa. In each case the pieces are joined by the welcome return of Mikhail Fokine's The Firebird.

'It's good to do Firebird again,' says David, 'because that was very successful last time we did it. And it supports the theme for the programme, which is the Russian connection with the music.'

Firebird represents composer Stravinsky's only appearance this year, with the programme – entitled Russian Steps – also containing music by Shostakovich and Glazunov.

There's not so much of a Russian influence in Concerto outside of the music,' says David. 'But Firebird and Raymonda of course come from two great periods in Russian dance. The Ballets Russes was a rejection of everything of which Raymonda was a late-flowering example - the grand classical ballet with fantastic music by Glazunov. Probably his masterpiece I would say.'

'I don't think Birmingham Royal Ballet has ever done Raymonda, but we did it as SWRB [when the company was based in London under the title of the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet].

'Raymonda's got a fantastic design, it's beautiful design. I'll be looking to get both it and Concerto back into the repertory more regularly, because it's a lot of work to do just for these few performances – it's just one of the peculiarities of programming that these pieces don't then go on tour.'

For the time being, however, the two pieces remain an exclusive treat for audiences in the Midlands. One ballet that has been kept in Birmingham in recent years will finally be touring again though, David reveals.

'I wanted Beauty and the Beast to go on tour,' says David of the second half of the autumn season, 'because we've not toured it since its premiere season. It doesn't feel strange taking it out of its Christmas slot because it's not set at Christmas. We have done two seasons of it in Birmingham at Christmas time, but it also went tremendously well when we first toured it, and it'll be nice to have it seen in London as it's not been there at all yet.'

Click here to read the second part of this interview.
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