David Mead

Robert Helpmann and Pauline Clayden in the original 1944 Sadler's Wells Ballet production of 'Miracle in the Gorbals'.  Photo Edward Mandinian

Robert Helpmann and Pauline Clayden in the original 1944 Sadler’s Wells Ballet production of ‘Miracle in the Gorbals’.
Photo Edward Mandinian

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 2014/15 season features an appealing mix of family-friendly full-length ballets with some cracking mixed programmes.A great deal of interest will be provoked by the reconstruction of Robert Helpmann’s 1944 ground-breaking work, “Miracle in the Gorbals”, by original cast member Dame Gillian Lynne. To be presented in October as part of a “Shadows of War” programme, the ballet is set in a run-down and dangerous Glasgow suburb. It dispensed with all the frippery of traditional ballets, replacing it with a gritty realism that proved an enormous success. After the shock of a girl’s suicide, the arrival of a mysterious stranger who is able to bring her back to life creates waves among the violent inhabitants of the tenements. Sets and costumes are by Adam Wiltshire after original set designs by Edward Burra.

Alongside “Miracle” will be Kenneth MacMillan’s “La Fin du jour”, which captures the glamorous ‘la plage’ lifestyle of the depression era; and David Bintley’s nostalgic ‘picture postcard’ view of Scotland, “Flowers of the Forest”, the title of which comes from the famous ballad for the flower of Scottish youth slain on Flodden Field.

Making his 20th year as Artistic Director, in June 2015 David Bintley will present a new one-act ballet, “The King Dances”. The ballet is to reimagine the beginnings of ballet in the court of the 14-year-old Louis XIV of France, whose dancing of the role of Apollo the sun god in “Le Ballet de la Nuit” earned himself forever the soubriquet the Sun King.

“The King Dances” will appear in a double-bill with what many consider to be one of Bintley’s finest works, “Carmina burana”, also the first ballet he created for the Company as Director. It’s a thrilling large-scale production in which an encounter with the mind-blowing Goddess Fortuna deals three seminarians a major lesson in the fickle nature of fate. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia will be joined by Birmingham’s Ex Cathedra choir for the run.

The final mixed programme of the season is an all-American affair, “Moving Stateside”, which features George Balanchine’s “Serenade”, Jessica Lang’s “Lyric Pieces”, and Twyla Tharp’s pulsing crowd favourite, “In the Upper Room”.

The season also sees the return of two full-length classic ballets from Bintley: the gothic fairy-tale “Beauty and the Beast”, and his humorous trip through time and love, “Sylvia”. The programme is completed by two more full-lengths from former Director Sir Peter Wright: Coppélia, and his sumptuous “The Nutcracker”, still a benchmark production.

Birmingham seasons at a glance:
30 September – 4 October 2014: Beauty and the Beast
8 – 11 October 2014: Shadows of War (La Fin du jour / Miracle in the Gorbals / Flowers of the Forest)
28 November –13 December 2014: The Nutcracker
18 – 22 February 2015: Moving Stateside (Seranade / Lyric Pieces / In the Upper Room)
24 – 28 February 2015: Coppélia
17 – 20 June 2015: The King Dances | Carmina burana
24 –27 June 2015: Sylvia

Autumn 2014 tour dates confirmed to date:
The Lowry, Salford: 24 – 27 September Beauty and the Beast
Sadler’s Wells, London: 14 – 16 October Beauty and the Beast, 17 – 18 October Shadows of War
Theatre Royal Plymouth: 28 – 29 October Shadows of War, 30 October – 1 November Beauty and the Beast
Sunderland Empire Theatre: 6 – 8 November Beauty and the Beast