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BRB 2005-2006 season

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This is the season so far, mainly for the first half of the season - there will be more dates.

Birmingham Hippodrome

5-8 October

Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko)

12-15 October

Hobson's Choice (Bintley)

Sunderland Empire

18-19 October

Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko)

20-22 October

Hobson's Choice (Bintley)

Sadler's Wells (London)

25-26 October

Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko)

27-29 October

Hobson's Choice (Bintley)

Plymouth Theatre Royal

1-2 Nov

Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko)

3-5 Nov

Hobson's Choice (Bintley)

Edinburgh Festival Theatre

8-9 Nov

Solitaire (Macmillan) / Checkmate (de Valois)/ The Lady and the Fool (Cranko)

10-12 Nov

Hobson's Choice (Bintley)

Birmingham Hippodrome

8-15 Dec

Beauty and the Beast (Bintley)

The Lowry, Salford

18-21 Jan

Sleeping Beauty

Birmingham Hippodrome

22-25 Feb

The Seasons (Bintley)/ Carmina Burana (Bintley)

28 Feb- 5 MarchSleeping Beauty

3-6 May

Agon (Balanchine), Pulcinella (Brandstrup), The Firebird (Fokine)

10-13 May

La Fille Mal Gardee (Ashton)

There have been several retirements throughout the 2004-2005 season, including Rachel Peppin and Serge Pobereznic, and now Tiit Helimets is leaving to join San Francisco Ballet and his wife, Molly Smollen, will be leaving too. Asta Bazeviciute is leaving to join Dutch National Ballet. This leaves BRB with only 8 principals at the end of the season, whic is an unfortunate situation for a major company to be in. They are auditioning this month and it remains to be seen who will join the company and who will be promoted.

Edited by Becca_King
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Interesting to see the combination of pieces very familiar to me -- and others not at all. They certainly travel a lot, and the residents of those small cities are fortunate. (It really helps when distances are relatively short, as in Britain but definitely not the US.) Question: whose or which version of Sleeping Beauty?

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Hi Bart,

London and Edinburgh aren't small cities but capital cities, and most of the other cities are pretty big too :cool:. I don't know if you know this, but BRB is specifically a touring company - that's why it travels a lot. It has a base but it only spends about 8 weeks a year performing there, and the rest of the season is spent in its regular cities, which mostly feel they have just as much a claim to it as Birmingham does, particularly as some of these cities generally aren't permitted by the Arts Council to be visited by other of the publicly funded touring companies - they're often only allowed one each (although I think people in Birmingham actually pay extra money towards it). For eg., I live near Sunderland so 'get' BRB, but I live a couple of hours train journey away from the nearest venue to which ENB tours, and that has been like that for years. It doesn't compare to the distances involved in America, but a lot of people in the UK feel that although we have five big or biggish ballet companies, they tend to gather in specific areas so that other areas don't get as much. For eg. all four English companies go regularly to London, and one is entirely resident there, but only two go to the capital of Scotland, and only one goes to Wales. None of the English companies go the Northern Ireland. And while the Birmingham-based BRB and the Leeds-based NBT go to London, the Royal Ballet doens't return the favour to Leeds and B'ham. Personally I feel that we have plenty ballet companies and dancers to go round, but not enough dialogue between the companies and not enough willingness, and sometimes money, or at least money spent in the 'right' areas, to move around. Therefore the ballet coverage is patchy in the UK, when it could be a nice even coverage. If you're living in Aberdeen and you want to see the Royal Ballet, you have an eight-hour train trip each way, and yet they're our 'national company'. But that's just my opinion :). And it's off topic again. But I'd be interested to hear what it's like in the US. I notice that regional companies like Pennsylvania Ballet are in regions pretty close to NYC, and I wonder whether there are any regions which have nothing (ballet-wise) while others have so much? Please feel free to move this post if it prompts any discussion on the topic.

As for your comment about the distance between the cities making touring easier, I've always agreed with that when discussing the companies which don't tour (or company which doesn't...). I still maintain that it's easier for a publicly funded company to tour than for the average person to travel hundreds of miles to visit that company - touring may be expensive for a company but I think it's their duty when they're receiving money from taxpayers UK-wide - but that's a different topic as the BRB are one of the companies which do tour pretty extensively in England. :angry2: Touring is a pet subject of mine - beware :) .

The Sleeping Beauty is the Peter Wright version after Petipa.

I'm afraid I don't know whether Molly Smollen will be dancing in San Fran. I will really miss her and Helimets. I remember them particularly in ballets like Giselle and Romeo and Juliet, and Helimets made a fine Apollo and certainly looked the part. And Smollen has exquisite feet.

*apologies for the multiple edits - as I said, this is a pet topic of mine! :)

Edited by Becca_King
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I was thinking of Plymouth, Salford and Sunderland. US cities of their size rarely have the chance to get regular visits from a company of the reputation of BRB. I guess the existence of government subsidies is the deciding factor in the UK. Here, the concept of "government subsidy" (at least in recent years) seems so distant and unreachable as to be truly alien.

Peter Wright's Sleeping Beauty -- excellent! I noticed on the BRB website the availablity on video of a number of their full-lengths, but don't recall having seen them here, though the R&J must have been available c. 15 years ago.

RE your question about American regionals (eg., Pennsylvania Ballet's proximity to NYC), I hope that others more knowledgeable than I will answer. Seems to me that cities like Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, Phoenix, Miami, etc., -- all homes to important regional companies -- have a mixed bag of subscription series by the home companies (which also tour in what appears to be a scattered and not very consistent way), and visiting companies. Money seems to be a big problem.

I wonder, for instance, if any American regionals have tried the BRB's 10-pound a ticket policy, at least for some performances, to get younger and "new" bodies into the seats.

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'I was thinking of Plymouth, Salford and Sunderland.  US cities of their size rarely have the chance to get regular visits from a company of the reputation of BRB.  I guess the existence of government subsidies is the deciding factor in the UK.  Here, the concept of "government subsidy" (at least in recent years) seems so distant and unreachable as to be truly alien.'

I think BRB choose their theatres partly because of theatre size. They go to Bradford rather than Leeds, and Sunderland rather than Newcastle, because the theatres are bigger, although Leeds and Newcastle would be considered the main cities in their respective areas. As you may know, Salford is really Manchester's main theatre - a pretty major UK city, probably a bit bigger than Edinburgh.

I'd be very interested to hear more from anyone about the situation in America. You guys seem to have so many excellent regional companies. I mean, there are companies such as Boston and San Francisco whih seem to be just brilliant - I've seen Sarah Lamb dance with the RB, and I've seen the San Fran company at the Edinburgh Festival and in London - as well as good, steady companies such as Ballet West, which I saw at the Edinburgh Festival last year (I apologise for trying to judge these companies after only one or two viewings). I have often wondered whether most people have fairly easy access to ballet in the US - my definition of that in this instance would be a resident company or a good, fairly regular visiting company within 100 miles or so. Also, to what extent do NCYB and ABT tour in the US? This topic fascinates me as in England we are so small and it's easy not to see the bigger picture. And what sort of reputation do the regional companies have? In England people can be scathing of regional companies, even though they're the ones that are keeping dance in - well, the regions- going, seeing as the Royal Ballet doesn't tour in the UK. Is it the same in the US, or do some regional companies have as much respect as the Royal Ballet here? Since joining this site it has seemed to me that some of you in the US and other countries have more respect for the British regional companies than a lot of people in Britain do, and I wondered if this was because in the US, in many areas people are not so focused on NYCB and ABT.

Again, please feel free to move this discussion elsewhere :-).

Final EDIT: I mean, I honestly did not think that you guys would hold NBT and BRB in the esteem that you seem to, and I'm delighted and surprised by it. The way some - by no means all - people talk in England, one would think that people outisde the UK would barelt have heard of BRB and NBT. I think there is a general tendency in some quarters of England to put down anything, cultural or otherwise, which doesn't happen in the capital. Is it like that in the US?

Edited by Becca_King
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A wish list for board software -- the ability to split part of a post out!

I'm not going to move the last two posts from the BRB thread, but I am going to create a new thread on which to discuss US ballet companies and touring.

Edited to add: Here's the new thread on US company touring:


(To return to this thread from the new one, please click the link in the first post on the thread.)

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I was scratching my head looking for a logical break, because the new topic evolved seamlessly from the old.

But please, feel free to start new topics.

Edited to add: Now you are being naughty -- you raised another great topic in your edit, which I'm going to use to create a new topic on attitudes on regional companies :angry2:

Edited again to add the link to the new topic on Attitudes Towards Regional and "Second" Companies:


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Bart - just to make it clear, I admit to having *no* knowledge of the geography of the US. When I talk about the geography of the UK, I am just pointing things out/remarking on things in case anyone should care to know. What I mean to say is, it may seem like I've been 'correcting' your UK geographty knowledge, which isn't the case at all - I was just putting the vague facts as I see them forward in case they were important to the discussion. It would be very hypocritical of me to do otherwise! :angry2:

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The official list of promotions, departures, etc. from the Birmingham Royal Ballet is out. It has Molly Smolen doing "freelance" in the USA. The press release follows:

At the end of the 2004/2005 Season, Birmingham Royal Ballet is able to announce the following:


Carol-Anne Millar promoted to Senior Soloist

Rory Mackay, Jamie Bond, Momoko Hirata and Tyrone Singleton are promoted from Artists to First Artists

Dancers leaving or left during this season:

Asta Bazeviciúte (to Dutch National Ballet)

Tiit Helimets (to San Fransisco ballet)

Rachel Peppin (Retired)

Sergiu Pobereznic (Retired)

Michael Revie

Molly Smolen (Freelance in USA)

Dorcas Walters (Retired)

Lee Fisher (Now acting Education Manager for BRB)

Michael Kopinski (Freelance in London)

Andy Rietschel (to Royal Swedish Ballet)

Juliana Moraes (to Zurich Ballet)

Julie Comte (Freelance in France)

Nadia Frölich (South Africa)

Pierpaolo Ghirotto (Left to study Medicine)

Veronique Tamaccio (to Dutch National Ballet)

And the following dancers will join the Company:

Letizia Giuliani as a Principal, from Maggiodanza, Florence

Mateo Klemmayer as a First Artist, from Zürich Ballet

Joseph Caley as an Artist from the Royal Ballet School

Alexander Campbell as an Artist from the Royal Ballet School

Feargus Campbell as an Artist from the Royal Ballet School

Kristen MacGarrity as an Artist from the Royal Ballet School

Aonghus Hoole as an Artist from Zürich Junior Ballet

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The Alexandra Ballet Newsletter "Alumni News" section seems to be the place to get updates on Ms. Peppin.

According to the Fall 2005 Newsletter (page 6)

Rachel Peppin was also home in St. Louis to bring Miss A[*] the exciting news of her engagement to Robert Parker, Principal Dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet (UK). Peppin, herself a principal dancer with BRB, retired at the end of last season after dancing the lead role with Parker in the BRB production of Romeo and Juliet. Rachel is working to become a certifi ed Pilates instructor. A spring wedding is planned.

*Miss A is Alexandra Zaharias, Artistic Director of Alexandra Ballet.

On page 3 of the August 2003 Newsletter, there's a photo of her demonstrating a Pilates machine to Prince Charles.

(These are links to Adobe .pdf files.)

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