Birmingham Royal Ballet has formed a brand new company called BRB2 to identify the best young ballet graduates aged 18 to 22 from around the world.
The BRB2 company is set to tour the UK this year from April to June 2023.
BRB2 is a two-year performance programme, helping young dancers transition from training into jobs at Birmingham Royal Ballet or other leading ballet companies. The new scheme aims to 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 and providing role models for the next generation.
BRB2 has been inspired by Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company and ABT Studio Company.
The BRB2 dancers will perform with the Birmingham Royal Ballet company in their main productions, and also have their own touring schedule.
The tour kicks off at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton on 25 April 2023, and then moves to the Theatre Royal Nottingham (28 & 29 April), New Theatre Peterborough (3 & 4 May), the Linbury London (12 & 13 June), and the Wolverhampton Grand (25 June).
In this first year, six of the company are current BRB dancers and six are the founding group of BRB2. In 2024, the founders will graduate and, in their second year, will 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 Carlos 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).
Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta, said in a press statement: “It is with great pleasure that I present my Classical Selection and introduce you to Birmingham Royal Ballet’s rising stars in our exciting new company, BRB2. 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. With the support of David and Mary Laing, The Kirby Laing Foundation and The Linbury Trust I am thrilled that we can bring this dream to life in 2023! 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.”
BRB’s First Soloist, Kit Holder, will lead BRB2 as Artistic Coordinator in this first year, in a role that has been created to support Kit’s professional development and the continued development of his leadership skills. Along with Carlos Acosta, Kit has developed the exciting programme featuring favourite pieces from classical ballet across over a century of performance.
Kit Holder said: “BRB2 will not only ensure that young professional dancers joining Birmingham Royal Ballet will be ready to deliver world-class performances in a wide range of roles, but they, along with those going on to other companies and organisations, will be ready to make a positive contribution to the wider dance world.”
BRB2 UK Tour 2023 – The Programme
The programme for the 2023 UK tour includes: Pas de Deux from: Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody – premiered at the Royal Ballet in 1980 by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lesley Collier, Collier herself will be rehearsing the BRB2 duo who will perform this piece; August Bournonville’s most famous ballet La Sylphide; the love duet from Swan Lake – probably the most famous pas de deux in ballet; Carlos Acosta’s take on Fokine’s The Dying Swan which features two dancers instead of one (hence The Dying Swans plural) and is double the usual length; Marius Petipa’s Diana and Actaeon pas de deux; Ben Stevenson’s End of Time set to Rachmaninoff’s gloriously melancholic Sonata in G Minor (3rd movement).
In the second half Gustavo Mollajoli’s A Buenos Aires celebrates the spirit of tango to music by Astor Piazzolla; the iconic Edith Piaf’s Je ne regrette rien choreographed by Ben Van Cauwenbergh, whose Jacques Brel-inspired humorous gala piece Les Bourgeois will also feature. Acosta’s choreography for the Carmenpas de deux promises to raise the temperature with Bizet’s heat-seeking score and Will Tuckett’s solo Nisi Dominus will reinstate some sense of calm to proceedings before Jorges Garcia’s Majisimo closes out the programme, performed to Massenet’s music from Le Cid.