The UK’s leading classical ballet touring company will be crossing two oceans in 2018, as Birmingham Royal Ballet announces extensive international touring to Virginia and Japan. The company will be flying across the Atlantic to perform Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet at Virginia Arts Festival (20-22 April 2018). Next, from 11 to 27 May, the Company heads east to perform in four cities across the southern region of Japan. Performing in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, they will bring to life Sir Peter Wright’s The Sleeping Beauty and Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée, alongside further performances of The Sleeping Beauty in Nishinomiya, Shiga and Nagoya.

In April 2018, Birmingham Royal Ballet makes a welcome return to Virginia Arts Festival after seven years to set hearts alight with Kenneth MacMillan’s exquisite Romeo and Juliet. Love at first dance, forbidden passions, dangerous secrets and star-crossed fate combine in this exhilarating classic ballet. From the balcony scene’s ecstatic pas de deux, exploring love in all its soaring wonder, to the lovers’ heart-breaking ends, Romeo and Juliet is dance at its most poignant and beautiful.

Promoted by NBS Performing Arts Foundation based in Tokyo, the company’s tour to Japan celebrates two greats of British ballet with performances of Sir Peter Wright’s The Sleeping Beauty and Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée.

Dancing alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet principal Mathias Dingman, Alina Cojocaru will guest in two performances of The Sleeping Beauty in Tokyo (18 and 20 May). Born in Bucharest, Alina trained in Kiev for seven years before joining the Royal Ballet School in 1997. Upon completion of her training she returned to Kiev to join the company as a principal dancer. She joined the Royal Ballet in 1999, and was promoted to principal in 2001 after a performance of Giselle. Alina joined the English National Ballet in 2013 as a Lead Principal. She continues to perform with companies worldwide, and is a regular guest with the Hamburg Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. In February 2012 Alina premiered her Alina Cojocaru - Dream Project in Tokyo, Japan, which she directed and staged, featuring friends and colleagues from the Tokyo Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, ENB and Royal Ballet. Alina's second Dream Project took place in July 2014.

Mathias Heymann will guest in two performances of La Fille mal gardée in Tokyo (25 and 27 May) alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet principal Momoko Hirata. Mathias trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School, and joined the corps de ballet of the Paris Opera Ballet at the age of 17. In 2006, he was promoted to coryphée and awarded the Prix du Cercle Carpeaux and Prix AROP de la Danse. Following further promotions in 2007 and 2008, Mathias was made an étoile on 16 April 2009 following his debut performance as Lenski in John Cranko’s Onegin. In 2012, he was awarded the Prix Benois de la Danse and the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

The Sleeping Beauty is one of the grandest ballets in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s repertory, with a classical score by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Marius Petipa. The opulent world of Imperial Russian ballet, with its marvellous mixture of virtuoso dance, fairy tale characters and dazzling spectacle, has delighted audiences for over a hundred years. Sir Peter Wright’s 1984 production for Birmingham Royal Ballet, with designs by Philip Prowse, is acclaimed as one of the best in the world.

Sir Frederick Ashton’s sunniest, funniest masterpiece, La Fille mal gardée (The Wayward Daughter) mixes spectacular classical ballet with finely wrought English comedy, colourful sets designed by cartoonist Osbert Lancaster, a clog-dancing dame and a super-cute miniature pony. It is based on a 1789 French ballet originally created by Jean Dauberval; John Lanchbery created the music for Ashton’s ballet from Ferdinand Hérold’s 1828 score. Inspired by Ashton’s love of the English countryside, La Fille mal gardée includes some of his most virtuoso, energetic choreography as well as elements of traditional folk dancing.