Birmingham Royal Ballet has searched across the Midlands to find the perfect fit for Cinderella’s jewelled slipper, in a production that brings to life the big ballet aspirations of young and old alike. Cinderella Dreams, which premieres on 20 February, is the culmination of a six month quest to inspire and develop dancers from across the region. The production adapts David Bintley’s classic choreography and Sergei Prokofiev’s lush score to create a new and vibrant version of Cinderella, showcasing emerging talent from ages eight to 76 working alongside dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Over 150 hopefuls from the age of eight took part in open auditions in September 2016 under the watchful eye of former BRB dancers Rachel Hester and Jenny Murphy. A final cast of 65 was selected, securing the chance to experience the intensive training, rehearsal and eventually performance of a classical ballet, in front of a full audience, at the home venue of BRB, Birmingham Hippodrome.
The role of Cinderella will be danced by 12 year old Pamela Hawkins, who began dancing at the age of four with the Sharon Green Dance Academy in Bodicote, Oxfordshire.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved the story of Cinderella. So being asked to dance this role in my first ever full length ballet is truly amazing,” says Pamela, “right now Cinderella Dreams is the highlight of my week. I can't wait for Thursdays when I travel up to Birmingham with my mum or dad to the rehearsals. It's the most exciting thing I've ever been part of. “
Bringing about Cinders magical transformation is Ilona Johnson –Gibbs who, at 76, fulfils a lifelong ambition to become a ballet dancer as The Fairy Godmother.
Ilona commented, “I really believe that dance is the ultimate leveller. It knocks down walls to achievement and sweeps away barriers. I feel thrilled I can do this over 70 years after I fell in love with ballet.”
Having returned to the art form three years ago after a fall at work she rediscovered the health and fitness benefits of pulling on ballet shoes again after an absence of 60 years. In a life filled with many years as a model for titles such as Vogue, a further career as a fine art dealer and motherhood, Ilona will make her grand ballet debut 72 years after first falling in love with dancing.
The project has been developed with the Department for Learning at Birmingham Royal Ballet under the watchful eye of Project Manager, Rebecca Brookes.
“Cinderella Dreams has been an inspirational project for all involved,” states Rebecca, “we have been fortunate enough to work with such a wealth of talent from across the Midlands and whilst it has been challenging, it's also extremely rewarding to see the benefits that it brings to the lives of all involved.”
Cinderella Dreams is the perfect production for all those who aspire to dance on the big stage. A beautiful, charming and magnificent showcase for the wealth of dance talent in the Midlands.