New director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta has announced plans for the 2020-21 season, plans that include a ballet by Uwe Scholz, a first for any company in the UK, and a work by Jiří Kylián, a first for the company.
Acosta says, “Bringing major new works to the stage will forge a new direction for this wonderful company. I plan to present international choreographers whose work will be new to British audiences. I want Birmingham Royal Ballet to be surprising and unpredictable, whilst continuing to be world class exponents of the classical repertoire that means so much to me personally. Continuing to drive, develop and support initiatives such as Freefall, Dance Track and First Steps connects directly with my desire to ensure the future, on and off stage, is more reflective of our experience and society today. I embrace this responsibility and hope to bring new audiences to ballet by being accessible, by nurturing talent and by creating opportunities to experience and be inspired by this beautiful artform, in many different ways. I am grateful to Arts Council England for their vital funding of Birmingham Royal Ballet and to Aud Jebsen, for generously supporting my artistic vision in my first year as Director.”
Audiences get their first look at Carlos Acosta’s vision in June 2020 in a three-week summer festival spanning London and Birmingham that brings together dancers and musicians; visual artists, writers and thinkers who inspire him under the banner Curated by Carlos.
At the heart of the festival is a mixed bill that includes the world premiere of a new duet for Alessandra Ferri and Acosta by Spanish choreographer and resident at Acosta Danza, Goyo Montero whose work Chacona, set to J S Bach, receives its UK premiere. Also on the programme are the premiere of the latest Ballet Now commission, Imminent, from British/ Brazilian London-based choreographer Daniela Cardim featuring commissioned music by Emmy Award winning composer Paul Englishby, and Theme and Variations by George Balanchine.
For the second half of the Curated by Carlos festival, Birmingham Royal Ballet will perform Acosta’s production of Don Quixote at the Birmingham Hippodrome, opening as part of the final weekend of Birmingham International Dance Festival which runs throughout June. This will be the first time the production has been presented in the UK outside the Royal Opera House.
Alongside mainstage shows in both venues, Acosta has invited acclaimed visual artist Conrad Shawcross to present his artwork, The Ada Project, featuring contemporary musicians responding to the movement and physicality of his robotic instrument. The exhibition will be open to audiences at both the Lilian Baylis Studio in London and the Patrick Studio in Birmingham. Shawcross has programmed choreographic pathways based on various mathematical aspects of Victorian mathematician Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron. Each pathway has been responded to by a series of music commissions by leading contemporary composers, including Mira Calix and Tamara & Mylo.
As part of the exhibition programme there will be special evenings of talks and live music performances with the robot, hosted by Conrad Shawcross. The talks series titled Meetings of Minds, sees Carlos Acosta inviting a number of artists, writers and thinkers to appear in conversations about their creative. Speakers include journalist, writer and presenter Mariella Frostrup, philosopher and author AC Grayling and novelist and journalist Howard Jacobson, author Katie Hickman and novelist, biographer and critic Miranda Seymour, writer of In Byron’s Wake, a book about Ada Lovelace and her mother.
The Curated by Carlos festival culminates in a free Family Day at Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 27 June. Alongside the two shows that day of Don Quixote and The Ada Project exhibition, families will have the chance to immerse themselves in the world of ballet and explore Birmingham Hippodrome as the company animates and transforms the foyer spaces with a variety of activities including costumes displays, arts and crafts, face painting, a talk for families by artist Conrad Shawcross, technology and art workshops, ballet training led by Birmingham Royal Ballet artists and National Youth Ballet, flamenco sessions, music workshops led by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, touch tours and audio descriptions for sight impaired children and adults, the chance to watch Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers take class and watch Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production team set up the sets on stage, and more.
Autumn 2020 sees a triple bill featuring Seventh Symphony by Uwe Scholz, former director of Leipzig Ballet who died in 2004, and whose work has never been presented in the UK before. A celebration of music and neo-classical dance that fills the stage with 36 dancers, its first UK appearance in this year, the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, is highly appropriate.
Also on the triple bill are the world premiere of a new Ballet Now commissioned work by Morgann Runacre-Temple with 2019 Linbury prize-winning design by Sami Fendall and a new music score to be announced; and renowned Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián’s epic and melancholic Forgotten Land, set to Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem.
On tour Kenneth Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet can be seen in Plymouth, Birmingham and London in October. From January-March 2021, the company will present David Bintley’s Cinderella. In tandem, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s First Steps version of Cinderella for children aged three to seven years and families, will tour to Southampton, Salford, Birmingham, Plymouth, Sunderland and Bristol.
Additionally, there will be a mid-scale tour in May 2021 which will include Jorge Crecis’ Ten, originally created for Acosta Danza, and a new commission to be announced shortly, bridging a gap for Ballet provision in smaller towns and cities in the UK.
An Evening of Music and Dance will return to Symphony Hall Birmingham in February 2021.
There are new partnerships in the pipeline including the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire whose orchestra will perform for Swan Lake Dreams on 23 February 2020. This outstanding Birmingham orchestra of young talented musicians will have the opportunity to perform for a ballet for the first time, conducted by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Principal Conductor, Paul Murphy and led by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia’s Leader, Robert Gibbs.
Birmingham Royal Ballet is also partnering with two Festivals in 2020, with Wayne McGregor inviting the Company to perform his duet 2Human at Dance@Grange Festival in July. The same month, the company will also perform for the first time at The Latitude Festival in Suffolk.
2020 marks the 30th anniversary of Birmingham Royal Ballet moving to Birmingham, and the company will again present Sir Peter Wright’s version of The Nutcracker, created as a gift to the City of Birmingham in 1990, at both the Birmingham Hippodrome and Royal Festival Hall. To mark the occasion, John Macfarlane’s stunning sets are being refurbished.
Birmingham Royal Ballet will also be celebrating by partnering with fellow Birmingham arts organisation, Sampad South Asian Arts & Heritage which also celebrates its 30th Anniversary in 2020. The company will host a choreo-lab residency bringing together two dancers and choreographers from both organisations, to share practice and explore each other’s dance languages. Bharatanatyam dancer and rehearsal director with Akram Khan Company, Mavin Khoo, and First Soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Kit Holder, will spend a creative week at Birmingham Royal Ballet working on new choreography. They will share their findings with local colleagues at the end of June.
Celebrating the company’s rich history, Birmingham Royal Ballet will join its sister company The Royal Ballet and Yorke Dance Project at The Linbury Theatre in May 2020 as part of an evening celebrating the choreographers who have shaped the Royal Ballet companies’ shared history. The evening, titled Heritage, will feature Birmingham Royal Ballet performing Sir Frederick Ashton’s Dante Sonata (celebrating the 80th anniversary of its making.
Acosta’s first year will culminate in the company’s return to The Royal Opera House in summer 2021 after an absence of twenty years with a programme to be announced.
Acosta says, “This is just the beginning of the journey. As I get to know the city of Birmingham and meet more and more artists from all walks of life, the more I see the opportunity to collaborate as a major part of my role. I look forward to announcing further exciting projects and embedding my vision and ambition in the very heart of this great city. Watch this space.”
Birmingham Hippodrome – February 18-29, 2020
The Lowry, Salford – March 4-7, 2020
Sunderland Empire – March 12-14, 2020
Theatre Royal Plymouth – April 1-4, 2020
A Valentine’s Celebration of Music And Dance
Birmingham Symphony Hall – February 14, 2020
Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry – February 15, 2020
Heritage: Dante Sonata
The Linbury Theatre , Royal Opera House – May 14-19, 2020
Seasons in Our World/Peter and the Wolf
Theatre Royal, Nottingham – May 22 & 23, 2020
Norwich Theatre Royal – July 3 & 4, 2020
Curated by Carlos
Chacona/Imminent/Theme and Variations
Sadler’s Wells, London – June 10-13, 2020
The Ada Project
Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells – June 11-13, 2020. Entry free
Meetings of Minds: Mariella Frostrup and Conrad Shawcross
Lilian Baylis Studio, June 10, 2020
Panel Discussion: Bach, Tchaikovsky and Beyond
Lilian Baylis Studio, June 12, 2020
Meetings of Minds: Professor AC Grayling and Howard Jacobson
Lilian Baylis Studio, June 13, 2020
Birmingham Hippodrome – June 19-27, 2020
Meetings of Minds: Miranda Seymour and Conrad Shawcross
Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome – June 23, 2020
The Ada Project
Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome – June 24-27, 2020
Meetings of Minds: Katie Hickman and TBA
Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome – June 26, 2020
Open Day and Family Events
Birmingham Hippodrome – June 27, 2020
Dance@TheGrange Festival, Northington, Alresford, Hampshire – July 10-11, 2020
The Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Suffolk – July 16-19, 2020
Seventh Symphony/new Morgann Runacre-Temple/Forgotten Land
Birmingham Hippodrome – October 1-3, 2020
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London – October 27-28, 2020
Romeo and Juliet
Birmingham Hippodrome – October 2020
Theatre Royal Plymouth – October 2020
Sadler’s Wells, London – October 2020
Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome – November 12, 2020
Birmingham Hippodrome – November 20-December 12, 2020
Royal Albert Hall, London – December 29-31, 2020
January-March 2021, dates to be announced
Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Theatre Royal, Plymouth
Mid-Scale Tour: Ten/tba
May 2021. Details to be announced