Ballet, Birmingham & Me, 2009-2010

On 7 December 2010 the Ballet, Birmingham and Me production of Cinderella was performed by 59 young people from Birmingham, and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the orchestra of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

It took place at Birmingham Hippodrome in the wonderful scenery designed by John Macfarlane for Birmingham Royal Ballet's lavish new production of Cinderella, but this was no ordinary performance of this famous story, as it had been created by the participants and reflected their interests and concerns.

Following the success of Ballet Hoo! in 2006, Birmingham Royal Ballet was determined to continue this area of work in order to offer opportunities to many more young people. Birmingham City Council appreciated the significant impact that Ballet Hoo! had on the lives of young people involved and suggested a partnership between Birmingham Royal Ballet and Birmingham Youth Services.

In 2008 Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs joined the partnership discussions. It was soon evident that there was a shared desire to offer inspirational opportunities for young people of the city that would inspire young people, raise aspirations and help them achieve what they didn't think was possible.

Bringing together three organisations in partnership proved challenging but the longevity of this project and the shared aim of offering the very best opportunities to young people enabled the partners to learn from each other and work together to provide rich and extensive experiences for young people. Youth workers and Birmingham Royal Ballet's Learning team worked closely on two small-scale projects in 2009: 'Still Life' at the Penguin Café and Cyrano. Both these projects offered opportunities for young people to attend performances, participate in workshops and perform in a professional theatre.

The creation of BB&Me Cinderella started in January 2010. Young people from five Youth Centres across the city enrolled for the project. Team building and activity days were arranged by the Youth Workers with support and coaching in commitment, time management and goal setting, confidence building as well as regular ballet classes delivered by the Learning team.

To ensure young people were at the heart of the project a 'youth artistic board' was developed, consisting of representatives from all the youth centres who consulted with their groups and discussed artistic decisions. Their ideas shaped the story and inspired the costume designs. Intensive workshops in August marked the start of the creative process. Alongside the gruelling rehearsal schedule all the young people were working to achieve a nationally recognised Arts Award.

The journey was varied, challenging and a roller coaster of emotions for all but the strong partnership and high level of skills and expertise that each partner brought to the project and the dedication and commitment of the young people enabled us to achieve. The impact of this project for all those involved is immeasurable, but the memories will last forever.

Over 200 young people participated across the project, with 60 making the final performance.The project required enormous amounts of hard work, dedication, patience, determination and team work from everyone involved, with staff working to fulfill their own roles and sharing their skills as role models and mentors to young people.

The final result was a performance that exceeded all expectations.

'Thank you for
The opportunity to be a part of BB&Me
An AMAZING show...
A WONDERFUL experience...
The NEW and GREAT friendships created etc...
made the whole experience one of the BEST moments of my LIFE'

'I've never been involved in anything like this and stuck it out until the very end'

'It's been such an amazing opportunity working with you all and being a company with such great people!
We started this project as just young people around the city and we have matured and become a family because of all of you guys...
you've given us the chance in a lifetime which nobody else would have been able to give us… and through all the hard work, the ups and downs, last minute changes in the show we still managed to put on an amazing performance...
and we would not have been able to do it without any of you!...
we rocked it last night...
so thank you all again!...'

'I will never forget this and forget the help and confidence boost it gave me'

'It’s really rewarding project to see kids from outside the dance world get an opportunity and I think the reason I got involved was to see the end performance and to see them grow – and that’s a really cool experience.'

'In terms of “reaching for the stars”, we don’t always get these opportunities in a youth work setting, but with the rich partnerships involved, we did.'
bayc Youth Arts Development Officer, November 2010

To find out more about the partner organisations, click the links:
Birmingham Youth Services

Visit the Ballet, Birmingham & Me website to see more about the project.

Download a copy of the evaluation report here.

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