Birmingham Royal Ballet Triple Bill

Birmingham Royal Ballet Triple Bill


Posted 2023-05-13 by dpmfollow

Thu 08 Jun 2023 - Sat 10 Jun 2023

When dancer Brandon Lawrence was nearing the end of his schooling at the prestigious Royal Ballet School he set his sights on joining one company – Birmingham Royal Ballet. Offered a place in the corps, he joined the company in 2011 and was promoted through the ranks, becoming a principal in 2019.

After more than a decade in Birmingham and becoming hugely popular with city audiences, Brandon is leaving to join Ballett Zürich this summer with the June Triple Bill being among his last performances in Birmingham.

It won’t be easy to say goodbye to the city Brandon says, as he has loved his time with BRB, which proves he made the right choice back in 2011. “We were asked to put together a list of companies we would like to join and I had BRB at the top of my list,” Brandon recalls. “I had seen them at Sadler’s Wells and the Coliseum, and with our former artistic director David Bintley being a choreographer I thought there would be really good hands-on opportunities. Being with BRB has been an absolute pleasure from the beginning right till this past tour of Swan Lake, under both David and our current director Carlos Acosta.

Brandon began dancing at the age of eight and joined Royal Ballet School at 14. And that learning process continued with BRB. “In the years with David, I feel like he nurtured me really well. I was always dancing and being involved, especially with new work, which I’ve always loved, and also with some of the classic heritage works that David brought back.

Brandon has danced key roles in ballets as diverse as David Bintley’s Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, Carlos Acosta’s Don Quixote, John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew, Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Ninette de Valois’ Checkmate, Peter Wright’s Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, Valery Panov’s Liebestod and Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée – to name just a handful.

And he says what he enjoys most about dancing is partnering. “You see each other struggle and then the satisfaction of overcoming it and being on stage. And what’s great is that it happens every season. My number one BRB highlight is the partnerships and sharing these dances with people like Delia Mathews, Céline Gittens, Yijing Zhang, Yvette Knight, Samara Downs and Tzu-Chao Chou. And it’s not just the dancers, it’s the crew, the admin team, the bigger picture. Then there’s the stuff surrounding being a dancer, I worked on various projects with the Learning, Engagement, Access and Participation team, then there’s dance development so pre-performance talks. I’ve been to Buckingham Palace, dining with the king and dancing for him. And I was recently filmed for the CBeebies series What’s in Your Bag?

He adds: “I will really miss the people. I think BRB is one of the most diverse classical ballet companies out there and that’s not just been since the era of Carlos, David very much made it that way. We’re not just talking about people from an Afro-Caribbean or a Cuban background, we’ve got dancers from Japan, China, Taiwan, Europe, America, so many different backgrounds.

This June Brandon will be performing in two of his favourite pieces – Juliano Nunes’ Interlinked and David Bintley’s Still Life at the Penguin Café as well as learning a new role, the lead in George Balanchine’s Apollo. “When this Triple Bill was announced, I thought ‘gosh, it’s like the stars have aligned’ - I couldn’t have chosen a better mixed bill to potentially go out on from this company,” says Brandon. I’ve never danced Apollo so it’s amazing to make a debut on that and I love Balanchine works. It’s going to be incredible having Carlos around who has danced it before and Patricia Neary, who learned it from Balanchine – it will be amazing to learn from them.

Nunes’ Interlinked focuses on gender fluidity, with dancers neither male nor female and a central pas de deux between two male dancers. “I also love Interlinked, it feels very poignant dancing that with Tzu-Chao. We premiered it last summer and that pas de deux has been performed in different places since. I think the audiences would like to see that again as it only had a short run and it will be lovely to do it again. And ‘Still Life’, my original director’s work, will feel like putting on an outfit that I used to wear all the time. I dance the Southern Cape Zebra which is one of the funkiest roles I’ve ever done, it’s so much fun. The message from the ballet about climate change is great and then there’s also Simon Jeffes’ music, David’s genius choreography and this iconic zebra costume - it’s one of my favourite costumes ever.”

Audiences also have the opportunity to see Brandon and Tzu-Chao perform the pas de deux from Interlinked at this year’s Birmingham Pride on May 27. “To have a spot on the main stage is absolutely fantastic,” says Brandon. “It’s about the message of the company having a presence there. If there is any work genre area which is more LGBTQ+ friendly it’s the entertainment industry.”

Brandon, who is a governor at Elmhurst Ballet School, hopes to continue working in the dance world for decades to come. “In the future, I would love to be a leader in dance, a director or something like that. But BRB will always be special for me, whenever I think about my dancing career, I count myself blessed.”

BRB perform the June Triple Bill at Birmingham Hippodrome on June 8-10, see here for information and tickets.


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