Acosta announces plans for Birmingham Royal Ballet 2020-21

Published: 7 February 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Less than a month into his new job as Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta has announced plans for world premières, classic revivals and new partnerships in his first year as Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

He said, "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."

For June 2020, Acosta has curated a three-week summer festival spanning London and Birmingham under the title Curated by Carlos (10–13 June at Sadler’s Wells; 19–27 June at Birmingham Hippodrome) featuring a mixed bill of ballet including a new duet for Alessandra Ferri and Carlos Acosta by Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero, Chacona, set to music by J S Bach.

The latest Ballet Now commission, Imminent, from British-Brazilian choreographer Daniela Cardim featuring commissioned music by Paul Englishby receives its première, and Theme and Variations, George Balanchine’s love letter to classical Russian ballet set to the final movement of Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite No.3, completes the programme.

BRB will perform Carlos Acosta’s production of Don Quixote at Birmingham Hippodrome (19–27 June) as part of the final weekend of Birmingham International Dance Festival, the first time this production will be presented in the UK outside the Royal Opera House in London.

Alongside mainstage shows in both venues, Acosta has invited visual artist Conrad Shawcross to present his artwork, The Ada Project, which features contemporary musicians “responding to the movement and physicality of his robotic instrument” at both the Lilian Baylis Studio in London (10–13 June) and the Patrick Studio in Birmingham (23–27 June), inspired by Ada Lovelace, the Victorian mathematician, computer visionary and daughter of Lord Byron.

As part of the exhibition programme there will be special evenings of talks in which Carlos Acosta will invite artists, writers and thinkers to appear in conversation, including journalist, writer and presenter Mariella Frostrup, philosopher and author A C Grayling, novelist and journalist Howard Jacobson, author Katie Hickman and novelist, biographer and critic Miranda Seymour.

On the opening night of the festival, Cuban-Iranian band Ariwo will perform in the foyer of Sadler’s Wells before the show and in the intervals. Ariwo brings together Iranian electronic composer and co-founder of Parasang, Pouya Ehsaei, Carlos Acosta and Irakere’s 'percussion virtuoso' Hammadi Valdes figurehead of London's Cuban music scene Oreste Noda and Tom Misch /Alfa Mist supporting London based jazz trumpeter Sam Warner.

For a free family day at Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 27 June, the foyer spaces will feature costumes displays, arts and crafts, face painting, a talk for families by artist Conrad Shawcross, technology and art workshops, ballet training, flamenco sessions, music workshops, touch tours and audio descriptions for sight-impaired children and adults, the chance to watch BRB dancers take class and watch the production team set up on stage, and more.

For autumn 2020 a Triple Bill (1–3 October at Birmingham Hippodrome; 27 and 28 October at Sadler’s Wells) features Seventh Symphony by Uwe Scholz in a celebration of Beethoven’s music for the 250th anniversary of his birth, a world première from Morgann Runacre-Temple with design by Sami Fendall and a new music score to be announced and Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián’s Forgotten Land, set to Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem.

On tour, Kenneth Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet will travel to Plymouth, Birmingham and London in October and in January to March 2021, David Bintley’s version of Cinderella will also tour alongside the First Steps version for children aged three to seven years to Southampton, Salford, Birmingham, Plymouth, Sunderland and Bristol. There will also be a tour in May 2021 which will include Jorge Crecis’ Ten and a new commission to be announced shortly.

BRB’s An Evening of Music and Dance will return to Symphony Hall Birmingham on 12 February 2021, and the company has been invited back by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to perform with them again at the Royal Albert Hall in an evening titled The Beauty of Ballet conducted by Music Director Laureate Barry Wordsworth on 4 November 2020. The company will also perform at [email protected] Festival and Latitude Festival in Suffolk, both in July 2020.

Marking the 30th anniversary of Birmingham Royal Ballet moving to Birmingham, BRB returns to the Hippodrome and Royal Albert Hall with Sir Peter Wright’s version of The Nutcracker that he created as a gift to the City of Birmingham in 1990. The company will also partner with fellow Birmingham arts organisation Sampad South Asian Arts & Heritage, which also celebrates its 30th Anniversary in 2020.

BRB will join 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 companies’ shared history, titled Heritage, feature Sir Frederick Ashton’s Dante Sonata (1940).

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.