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It’s been a busy year so far for the BB&Me participants. After undergoing drama and ballet training back in the autumn-winter of last year (documentary to be posted here soon!), the 80-strong troupe marched into the new year with renewed vigour, proud of their achievements and excited about the journey ahead.
As the new year dawned and Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) began to rehearse elements of the brand-new version of Cinderella, BB&Me appointed an Artistic Director to lead participants toward their own adaptation of the well-loved fairytale. Dinos Aristidou joined the team and established a group of 17 young people who became the Youth Artistic Board (YAB). This core group of young people underwent leadership and decision-making training and now meet on a regular basis to represent their youth centres, advise and at times make decisions of an artistic nature. Some also received media training and have already taken on an ambassadorial role.
With this group in place and a whole company of young people eagerly awaiting the next stage, Dinos’s challenge was to find the young people’s storyline for the production. Following a successful team-building day held by Birmingham Youth Services, a number of artists from different art forms were engaged and tasked with using their specialism to explore the story of Cinderella in a non-performative way with each of the groups. After a ten-week exploration stage held at each of the youth centres the artists fed back the young people’s interests, which then started a process of sifting story ideas involving the YAB and then the much larger group before a final draft was created.
During this time Lee Fisher, BRB’s Head of Creative Learning, took the post of Director of Choreography for the project and developed a team of Choreographers made up of BRB dancers who would work closely with the young people to create sections of the ballet. Dancers include Tom Rogers, Kit Holder, Dusty Button, Chris Rogers-Wilson, Nat Skelton, Jenny Murphy, Johnny Caguoia and Rachel Hester.
Throughout, young people came to BRB for their weekly ballet classes with the support of their youth workers who have continually provided help, guidance, and assurance for the young people and played a central role in keeping them engaged and inspired to achieve.
Now that the storyline is in place, and characters have been developed, the young people await the August intensives where they will come into BRB and a casting process will begin. Exhausted but excited the young people realise that the project is about to step up a gear as we now move into the production phase.