Birmingham Royal Ballet has announced its 2016/2017 Birmingham Hippodrome season. Despite the premiere of David Bintley’s The Tempest and a new short work from company dancer Ruth Brill, with just five programmes (all involving storytelling) and only one triple-bill (the present season has seven programmes, three of which are mixed), it strikes as rather disappointing.
The season opens with The Tempest on October 1, based on Shakespeare’s play about Prospero’s magical isle and a man determined to right past wrongs by means of his mysterious powers. We are promised what sounds like a family friendly telling with storms and shipwrecks, puppets and drowning men, sorcery and tricks. The ballet comes with a newly commissioned score by Sally Beamish and designs by Rae Smith, whose drawings provided the backdrop for the National Theatre’s The War Horse. The Tempest is the final ballet in the 2016 series marking the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard.
As usual, the countdown to Christmas sees the arrival of The Nutcracker, the season including the 500th performance of the perennially popular ballet.
Two further full-lengths with family appeal follow. Bintley’s Cinderella returns for the first time since 2012 in February, which like the autumn season has lost its usual mixed programme, with Sir Peter Wright’s production of Coppélia (seen only last year) earning a swift recall in June.
Those wanting a programme with variety finally get their wish in the second half of June with a triple bill of storytelling. The most interesting ballet of the three looks to be Arcadia, first artist Ruth Brill’s first main stage creation for the company. To music by John Harle, it’s set in the idyllic lost world of the title; a pastoral paradise and place of perfect bliss roamed by Pan, the god of the woods, fields, shepherds and flocks. Also on the programme is Michael Corder’s 2008 ballet, Le Baiser de la fée, and John Cranko’s utterly English Gilbert and Sullivan-style tale, Pineapple Poll.
Birmingham Hippodrome 2016-2017 season at a glance:
The Tempest: October 1-8, 2016.
The Nutcracker: November 25-December 13.
Cinderella: February 15-25, 2017.
Coppélia: June 13-17.
Baiser triple bill (Le Baiser de la fée/Arcadia/Pineapple Poll): June 21-24.
Public booking for packages opens May 9, for individual tickets May 19 (subscriber and Friends dates are earlier). Visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com or telephone the box office on 0844 338 5000.
Autumn 2016 tour dates confirmed to date (more to follow):
The Lowry, Salford: Wink/The Moor’s Pavane/The Dream – September 15–17.
Sadler’s Wells, London: Wink/The Moor’s Pavane/The Shakespeare Suite; October 10-11; The Tempest – October 13-15.
Sunderland Empire: The Tempest – October 20-22.
Theatre Royal Plymouth: Wink/The Moor’s Pavane/The Dream – October 25-26; The Tempest – October 27-29