BRB2 is a new initiative where Birmingham Royal Ballet seeks out some of the best young ballet graduates from around the world to join a two-year performance programme, providing employment for the next generation of exceptional ballet dancers (aged 18-22) to transition from training into jobs at BRB or other leading ballet companies.
It will act as a magnet for the best UK and international talent, providing extensive training and professional experience, sending developed, professional dancers back into the dance sector. BRB2 is inspired by Dutch National Ballet Junior Company and ABT Studio Company.
BRB director Carlos Acosta said,
Since arriving at BRB, I have wanted to develop a young company. A company with its own artistic identity in which some of our finest young dancers would not only have the opportunity to take on lead roles of their own, but which would also provide a structure for brilliant young dancers graduating from ballet schools around the world to gain real-life experience with a touring ballet company.
The BRB2 dancers will not only train and perform with the whole Birmingham Royal Ballet company in major productions, but they will also develop their own touring programme, supported by senior members of BRB's ballet staff.
In most ballet companies new joiners and artists can spend years working their way up to dancing principal roles; this showcase puts the spotlight on the new talent in Birmingham Royal Ballet's ranks in an exciting, crowd-pleasing and challenging way. In this first year, six of the company are current BRB dancers and six the founding group of BRB2. In 2024, the founders will graduate and, in their second year, be joined by six new dancers – providing an ongoing platform for brilliant young talent to be showcased across the UK.
The dancers for the first cohort were selected by Acosta and Dominic Antonucci, BRB's Assistant Director. The founding members of BRB2 are Oscar Kempsey-Fagg (UK), Mason King (UK/New Zealand), Frieda Kaden (Germany), Mailene Katoch (France) and Jack Easton (USA).
Joining them for the first UK tour will be Enrique Bejarano Vidal (Mexico), Olivia Chang Clarke (UK), Regan Hutsell (USA), Sofia Linares (Spain), Eric Pinto Cata (UK), Lucy Waine (UK) and soloist Riku Ito (Japan).
BRB's First Soloist, Kit Holder, will lead BRB2 as Artistic Coordinator in this first year. This role has been created to support Kit's professional development and the continued development of his leadership skills.
BRB has a strong track record in launching the careers of some of the world's most renowned dancers, who have developed their skills at BRB and then gone on to become global stars. BRB is proud that Darcey Bussell, Leanne Benjamin, and Miyako Yoshida, amongst others, had their first professional jobs at Birmingham Royal Ballet. BRB2 will help the company give opportunities to more of the brightest stars of the future.
Rhapsody – pas de deux
Choreography: Frederick Ashton
Music: Sergey Rachmaninoff, Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini
La Sylphide – Act II pas de deux
Choreography: August Bournonville
Music: Herman Lovenskiold
Swan Lake – Act II Pas de deux
Music: Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky
The Dying Swans
Choreography: Carlos Acosta (after Michel Fokine and Michel Descombes)
Music: Camille Saint-Saens
Diana and Actaeon – pas de deux
Choreography: Marius Petipa, Agrippina Vaganova
Music: Cesare Pugni
End of Time – pas de deux
Choreography: Ben Stevenson
Music: Sergey Rachmaninoff, Cello Sonata in G Minor (3rd movement)
A Buenos Aires
Choreography: Gustavo Mollajoli
Music: Astor Piazzolla, Primavera Portena
Je ne regrette rien
Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh
Music: Edith Piaf's Je ne regrette rien
Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh
Music: Jacques Brel's Les Bourgeois
Choreography: Carlos Acosta
Music: Bizet – Shchedrin
Choreography: Will Tuckett
Music: Claudio Monteverdi (from Vespers)
Choreography: Georges Garcia
Music: Jules Massenet (from Le Cid)
Northampton Royal & Derngate
25 April 7.30pm – full live orchestra
Theatre Royal Nottingham
28 April 7.30pm; 29 April 2.30pm & 7.30pm
New Theatre Peterborough
3 & 4 May 7.30pm
The Linbury Theatre, London
13 & 14 June 7.30pm
24 & 25 June 7.30pm
The full Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Paul Murphy, will perform live on opening night in Northampton and for the rest of the tour there will be specially recorded music with End of Time and Dying Swan performed live by Jeanette Wong (Head of Piano) and Antonio Novais (Principal Cellist).
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.