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The We Are Birmingham shop in Birmingham City Centre has granted us the space to display some of the brilliant costumes from our performance of Cinderella, on their gallery level, until 18 February.

An exhibition consisting of fourteen of the costumes has been installed, including eight-foot tall prints of photographs taken during the general rehearsal. You can see close ups of four of them here:

If you’d like to go an visit the exhibition, the address is: King’s Parade, Dale End, Birmingham, B4 7LN (If you walk down High Street from the Bullring, it’s past Marks and Spencers and MacDonalds, on the right).

The shop’s opening hours are:

Monday: closed
Tuesday: closed
Wednesday: 12-5.30
Thursday: 12-5:30
Friday: 12-7:30
Saturday: 12-5:30
sunday: 12-4:30

The performers and the youth workers had not been able to watch the actual performance, so everyone came together to see how it looked.  This was the first time that everyone had met again since the performance and also the first part of 3 sessions bringing the project to a close.

 Although the film was only filmed from a small camera at the back of the Hippodrome, you could still get a sense of the magical evening of the 7th December. Every time a new performer came on stage, they were clapped and cheered.  Wonderful memories…………

However, everything was fine on the night.  Yes the young people were nervous but they performed as if had been dancing on the Hippodrome stage all their lives.  The show was wonderful, with the stunning costumes and scenes.  Out in the audience, parents, siblings, family members and friends clapped whooped and encouraged everyone on stage.  The atmosphere was electric.

 At the end the young people came out for a curtain call and received a huge ovation!

Finally it’s the night of the performance and the auditorium is buzzing with the energy of the unexpected before the curtain rises. So thrilling to be here and to see so many different people in the audience. The young people have been amazing all day and I know they will perform their best and that they now have the confidence to hold the piece as it really does feel like their own. The journey and what has been achieved is extraordinary, they have been extraordinary and seeing their achievement and their ownership of the stage, the material, the music and Birmingham Royal Ballet is thrilling. Filled with pride. Its been a long and at times difficult journey for them and for us all- but nothing worth while comes easy. It’s great to see a dream come alive on stage. It will stay with us for a long long time.

Dinos – Artistic Director

As the show gets closer we are practically living at Birmingham Royal Ballet now. Rehearsals Saturday, Sunday and all day Monday!! There’s a real mood of excitement and anticipation amongst everyone. We feel ready, we want to get out there and perform. We want to show people what we can do.

One of the back stage crew noted that a bad dress rehearsal meant a good performance on opening night so when everything went smoothly during rehearsals we wondered…

Finally we got on stage! A whole day had been booked for rehearsals and to visit the stage, to meet Diana the stage manager and to find out about what happened back stage.

This was Monday and we had seen how things were done by the professionals on Friday night. There was a our first time together since then and there was a buzz in the dance studio as everyone shared their thoughts about Friday night’s show and speculated about how their first time on the stage would be.

We spent the morning in BRB doing a run-through of the show. We still had some small wrinkles to iron out in the choreography. Performance night is getting closer and rehearsal time running out. Everyone knows we need to work even harder for the last couple of weeks.

We were introduced to Diana and her team and were given a health and safety talk before we were allowed on stage. First impressions were about how big it is, then the inevitable ‘wow’ factor looking out at all of the seats and imagining them filled with friends and family. We got to see some of the props and watch how the sets were moved. Someone noticed the net at the front of stage and we all debated the likelihood of falling off stage into the orchestra pit.

We did another run through and it was then we began to realise the small things that are big things really matter, like running in front of the lights and casting a shadow, or forgetting to bring a prop on or off stage and worst of all missing a cue – it is a big stage and it takes a long time to run from one wing to another via backstage.

One week and one day to go – nerves are really starting to kick in!

A couple of weeks before our own big night the company got the opportunity to see how the professionals do it.

What a treat to see how everything fits together – the music, the stage, the costumes, the scenery and of course the dancers and the story they were telling. The music is so familiar to everyone now that company members were often distracted by the realisation that this was where their part would be. The gasps of amazement when the clock separated must have been audible for much of the audience nearby.

The excitement slowly gave way to apprehension for some of the young people for whom sitting in the audience and looking around at the amount of people in the theatre brought home how scary performance night will be.

Adding to the excitement on the night was the special treat of meeting David Bintley who met with the company to give words of encouragement. The young people are very appreciative of his support.

Last Thursday (18 November) evening around 70 BRB Friends came in to watch a special presentation and rehearsal event involving some BB&andMe participants, youth leaders and staff in our Studio 1. The Friends are very used to watching rehearsals from the Company – this being one of the benefits they enjoy from their membership – they support us in many ways, and we give them access to learn more about what we do. This event was something very different, and so worth doing. I was really encouraged by the number of people interested in getting an insight into this project, by way of this opportunity – the ones attending and many other members had enquired about the performance on 7 Dec too , and the take-up has been fantastic!

Pearl set the scene as to the background , followed by Gina, Dinos, Danni, Lee and Phil all explaining their involvement, expectations, experiences over the last year and a half. This gave the Friends a good picture as to how everything had been created and it highlighted how ‘hands on’ the students had been in putting the production together.

The participants worked really hard during the 50 minute rehearsal, responding to coaching by Jenny, Lee and Dinos. They took their advice like true professionals and the Friends were very impressed with the end results.

Finally, at the Q&A – everybody was extremely relaxed, open and funny! It was so good to see the different age groups coming together and members were buzzing when they left the studio, let alone the participants! Anyone not already booked for the show – following their experience on this evening, were definitely going to the Box Office the next day. This is all down to you all!

I can’t thank you enough for letting the Friends see you at work – you’ve now got some pretty strong support out there to add to that from your family and friends. Sounds a bit stiff to say this but on the Friends behalf, I’ll say well done and good luck – we’re with you all the way!

Sheila (Hitchman)
Friends Co-ordinator

The orchestra rehearsal on Saturday was the first chance for the young people to hear the orchestra ‘up close and personal’.

We all descended on the Patrick Centre to watch the orchestra go through their paces.  It was another step towards the ‘reality’ of what we will be doing. Having only heard the music on cd with parts played on piano during their own rehearsals today’s session allowed the young people to appreciate the music at a much higher level. 

Reaction was an almost stunned amazement at the sound created by a full orchestra.

Reality is beginning to bite.

Helen Fownes-Davies, designer for BB&Me,

My job is to design and then oversee the realisation of all the costumes and props going into the show.

Everything is really getting busy in the wardrobe department; most of the cast have had a first fitting now and after a few more sessions everyone will have seen their costume in some form or another.

We still have a lot of work in terms of pulling all the elements together, whilst all the makers are finishing the costumes, shoes are being ordered and fitted, hair and make-up discussed in detail with University College Birmingham and all the props and elements of the design are being carefully talked through how they will be used and what they will look like.

There are still a few props to source, particularly when the show is being rehearsed some new bits and pieces always appear! We have to work together in making sure the design works as a whole, the costumes compliment each other, they will work on stage on top of John Macfarlane’s beautiful design and will all be ready on time for the critical dress rehearsals!.

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