Following the success of Ballet Hoo!, Birmingham Royal Ballet is working with Birmingham Youth Services and Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs on another exciting project for young people called Ballet, Birmingham and Me (BB&Me). The journey so far has seen young people from across Birmingham have the opportunity to participate in, create, lead, and watch dance activities whilst learning about all aspects of producing professional performances.
In March 2009 young people came to watch Birmingham Royal Ballet’s performance of ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Cafe. Funded by Birmingham City Council, creative dance workshops based on the show and led by Birmingham Royal Ballet artists, were offered to young people. These workshops culminated in a performance of the young people’s work at The Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome, in May 2009.
Following this the young people were invited back to Birmingham Hippodrome to watch the company perform Cyrano in autumn 2009. In the next phase of the project young people were tasked with learning how to express a story, character and emotions without the use of words. Drama practitioners worked with the young people in their centres using storytelling and physical theatre techniques to develop these skills. At the same time, young people began to come into Birmingham Royal Ballet and undergo ballet training. The young people were succesful in a bid they made to the Youth Opportunities Fund and were able to put on a showcase of the work to family and friends.
Now as Birmingham Royal Ballet prepares for a major world premiere of Cinderella in December 2010, the BB&Me youth company are continuing with their ballet training and working to create their own version of the same story, giving them the opportunity to choreograph, devise, perform and be involved in many of the backstage activities.
In January 2010 a group of approximately 15 young people were apointed as the project’s Youth Artistic Board (YAB). These key people represent all the participants from each of the five centres and work closely with the Artistic Director and Director of Choreography to advise and make decisions of an artistic nature of the production, which will be performed on 7 December this year.
Ballet, Birmingham and Me is funded through the Big Lottery Fund and is a People Dancing programme (part of the West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012) which is funded by the Legacy Trust UK, Arts Council England and Advantage West Midlands.