A Day with Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB)

Job perks for an aspiring dancer don’t get much better than getting a front row seat with backstage access to one the UK’s finest ballet companies.

An incredible opportunity was given for myself a Dance Ambassador at The Lowry to travel down to see the production of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ on Saturday 24th February. The purpose of my trip was to give a sneak peak at the production before the company packs up and takes over the stage here!

My day started off with a train journey from Manchester to Birmingham planned to arrive just in time for the matinee performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome, which of course with my luck and the reliability of public transport in Britain, was cancelled. A rush for the next Birmingham train, a packed carriage and stressed passenger (ME) still managed to arrive with time to pick up my ticket, grab a programme and find my seat. WHICH WAS BASICALLY A FRONT ROW SEAT.  I was practically sat in the orchestra pit, I couldn’t believe it.

The lights dimmed and the curtains opened revealing a royal fantasy setting with stunning gold curtains and thrones. Each dancer that entered the stage for the prologue had their own unique breath taking costume with precise details I could admire from my seat.

The show itself was electrifying. I’ve never actually gasped out loud at a production before but when The Fairy Carabosse (Jade Heusen) swooped in from stage left towering in a chariot carried by her attendants meters off the floor I couldn’t contain it.

Having studied and taught ballet for going on 4 years now I know how much pain it is alone to dance in pointe shoes but Princess Aurora (Nao Sakuma) spent the whole of Act 1 –Act 3 making it look completely effortless as she floated across the stage performing in solos, duets and group pieces.

Without words the dancers portrayed the journey using gestures and facial expressions that enchanted the audience who exploded into applause as the dancers took their bows.

Oh and in the Finale it rained glitter gold confetti. I had no words.

Leaving the theatre depressed, never having so much leg envy in my life!  (Both the female and male dancers’ legs almost as long as 5ft 2 me.) I headed round to the stage door ready for an all access backstage tour.

Waiting in the stage door entrance I managed to spot the two principle dancers, Princess Aurora (Nao Sakuma) and Prince Florimund (Yasuo Atsuji), with their gushing parents. They were snapping pictures of them posing in costume fresh off the stage, congratulating them on a spectacular and faultless performance.

I then met with BRB Company Manager Will Mauchline who led me round wardrobe, dressing rooms and the theatre.

The wardrobe for The Sleeping Beauty is the largest and most complex in the BRB repertory which was evident from walking down the backstage corridors. Costumes spilled out of wardrobe and were littered on each side, with racks and rails of elegant Tutu’s and gowns ready for the dances changes. Taking over The Lowry’s Instagram story I snapped as many pictures as I could being absolutely shell-shocked.

I also got the chance to ask any burning questions about the production or performers, of which I had many but choose a select few. Will told me all about the dancers training regime. How some dancers have been with the company from younger than 12 years old while others travel from the other side of the world such as Japan and Canada to train and perform with BRB.

The passion and determination is apparent hearing about the endless hours the dancers spent in preparation for this production but you can see the raw talent these dancers possess on stage. I can’t recommend enough for you to come and see BRB whenever they are The Lowry. Their shows are perfect for not just dance enthusiasts but anyone who wishes to spend a couple of hours transported to a completely different world.