As director Carlos Acosta says, while Birmingham Royal Ballet has a lot to celebrate, it’s important that the company keeps moving forward, challenging itself and its audiences, and aiming high. He speaks of the “importance of balancing the creation of platforms for emerging talents to shine, alongside the joy we bring to the classical canon of work that the company is so proud to perform.”
And it’s another new, full-length work that stands out amidst the company’s 2024-25 programme. Premiering in Birmingham (October 3-5, 2024) before moving to Sadler’s Wells (October 22-23), Luna is a two-act abstract ballet in six movements, which follows City of a Thousand Trades and Black Sabbath – The Ballet as the final part of Acosta’s Birmingham Trilogy.
Luna is inspired by the pioneering and socially enterprising women of Birmingham who have contributed to the shape of the city that is the company’s home. Drawing inspiration from the book Once Upon a Time in Birmingham: Women Who Dare to Dream by Louise Palfreyman, it features an all-female, international creative team, who will explore contemporary universal themes including matriarchal roles in society, education, female empowerment, overcoming adversity, and community.
Some of the choreographers will be new names to British audiences, including Iratxe Ansa, graduate of the John Cranko School in Stuttgart, who went on to dance for Ballett Basel, the defunct Gulbenkian Ballet in Lisbon, National Dance Company of Spain when led by Nacho Duato, Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon, and Nederlands Dans Theater. She has guest choreographed for many companies, and in 2019 co-founded Madrid-based Metamorphosis Dance.
Wubkje Kuindersma, a freelance choreographer from The Netherlands, has been Young Creative Associate with Dutch National Ballet since 2021. Her acclaimed duet Two and Only for Dutch National Ballet delivered Marijn Rademaker a nomination for the Prix Benois de la Danse 2018. Elsewhere, Kuindersma has created new works for Dutch National Ballet’ Junior Company, Ballett Dortmund, das Hessisches Staatsballett, Dansk Danseteater, Beijing Dance Academy, Bundesjugendballet of John Neumeier, and Skanes Dansteater, and is presently creating her first full length story ballet, Echoes of Van Gogh, at West Australian Ballet.
Thais Suarez began her career in the internationally renowned company, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, where she was a principal dancer for almost a decade. With her partner Norge Cedeño, in July 2018, she co-founded OtroLado Dance Company, her choreographic career since including collaborating with top companies such as Gauthier Dance, Aterballeto and Acosta Danza.
More familiar is British choreographer Seeta Patel, known for her contemporary approach to bharatanatyam. Most recently, her interpretation of The Rite of Spring, developed from an original small-scale piece to now have an extended cast and full orchestra, premiered to much critical acclaim.
Olivier Award award-winning choreographer Arielle Smith is probably best known to ballet audiences for her successful Jolly Folly, made for English National Ballet. Other credits include Carmen for San Francisco Ballet, numerous theatre works, and Matthew Bourne’s Romeo & Juliet, for which she was associate choreographer.
Turning to established ballet favourites, the autumn season opens at the Birmingham Hippodrome (September 25-28) with Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée. This is the first time the ballet has been presented by under the directorship of Acosta, who, for many, is one of the definitive interpreters of Colas. Fille will also be preformed at Plymouth Theatre Royal (October 10-13) and Sadler’s Wells (October 24-25), and is part of the official 2024-28 Ashton Worldwide Festival.
Additional BRB events programmed as part of the Festival include A Celebration of Ashton at Birmingham Symphony Hall in February 2025, and a special Ashton Foundation ‘Insight’ masterclass, featuring Acosta and Sandra Madgwick coaching Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers in the roles of Colas and Lise on 30 April 2024 at Elmhurst Ballet School.
Sir Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker returns for its usual pre-Christmas Birmingham season (November 22-December 14, 2024), before it’s Royal Albert Hall version is presented in London (December 29 – 31).
That is followed by another audience popular production, Sir David Bintley’s Cinderella, which opens at the Mayflower Southampton (February 6-8, 2025) before returning to its Birmingham Hippodrome home (February 19-29), then The Lowry Salford (March 6-8), Sunderland Empire (March 13-15), Bristol Hippodrome (March 27-29) and Plymouth Theatre Royal (April 9-12).
Announcing the season, Acosta noted how the company’s 2023 hit, Black Sabbath – The Ballet has had a raft of international interest. Its European premiere will be at the Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam, presented by Holland Dance Festival (June 13-15, 2024). Talks about taking the ballet to the USA in summer 2025 are well advanced.
Summer 2024 will also see Birmingham Royal Ballet make its first-ever visit to Iceland to perform Carlos Acosta’s Classical Selection in Reykjavik.
Spring 2025 will see the third BRB2 UK tour, this time featuring an all-new programme, to be announced.