‘The performances are going to be absolutely fantastic!’


Writer Diane Parkes talks to Birmingham Royal Ballet First Soloist Kit Holder, and BRB2’s Artistic Coordinator, about BRB2’s first visit to Lighthouse.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s company of young dancers BRB2 will be bringing a packed programme of classics and a world premiere to Poole this spring. 

Playing Lighthouse on 18 May the company, which features talented dancers handpicked from the top ballet schools across the globe, will be performing Carlos Acosta’s Classical Selection. 

With a programme including Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody pas de deux, the love duet from Swan Lake, A Buenos Aires set to music by Astor Piazzolla and Edith Piaf’s Je ne regrette rien choreographed by Ben Van Cauwenbergh, the evening will showcase the dancers’ expertise. 

The production also includes the world premiere  of a duet by internationally renowned choreographer Will Tuckett set to two pieces of piano music by Maurice Ravel. 

BRB2’s inaugural dates last spring gained both critical and audience acclaim, and BRB2 artistic coordinator Kit Holder says the team can’t wait to return to touring. 

“Last year the dancers were absolutely incredible. We’d worked really hard and we knew we were delivering some really great performances but the audience responses still took us by surprise. We had standing ovations every single performance through the tour and it’s so gratifying that the audience is understanding just how special what they are seeing is, and is responding to that.” 

Launched by Birmingham Royal Ballet director Carlos Acosta in February 2023, BRB2 provides dance graduates with a two-year development programme in which they perform not just as the young company but also in the main BRB productions. 

Last year’s cohort of five performers have been joined by five new artists and Kit says the tour this spring will again be something special. 

“The new cohort joined us in August and they come from all over the place – a couple are from the UK, a guy from Australia, a girl from the US, one from the Ukraine, so a truly international group. They are the best dance graduates from around the world so they are already of a professional standard but we want to get them to world class top standard.  

“It’s really exciting to get people at the beginning of that journey and see the potential. I love that, being in a position to encourage them in this but also to bring in the knowledge from within and around the company to help them on that journey. 

“All of these dancers are such a high standard of dancer and performer already that a lot of what I have to do is just to try and create the environment for them to flourish and do their best work. They already know what they have to do, it’s just enabling them to get there.” 

The group receive training in different techniques and works – including pieces which would usually be danced by principals. 

“One of the advantages of this company is they get to be coached in those principal level roles by a range of people,” says Kit. “This includes Carlos and BRB’s assistant director Dominic Antonucci and we sometimes have visiting guest teachers or repetiteurs from whichever show we’re working on. Our BRB principal dancers will also come in and help rehearse them in certain roles, so they get this wealth of information and they are very motivated to progress.” 

The programme has already caught the imagination of the ballet world and Birmingham Royal Ballet is now inundated with approaches from young dancers keen to gain a place in BRB2. 

“People are coming to us for it,” says Kit. “If anything, it’s a frustration that we can only take in a small number each year.”  

Many of the dancers have also gained roles in works performed by the main Birmingham Royal Ballet company. 

“We’ve seen the dancers from that initial cohort really going from strength to strength and not just with their BRB2 hats on but as BRB dancers,” says Kit.  

“That became particularly apparent in Black Sabbath – the Ballet shows last autumn, they really came to the fore. And then that followed through into The Nutcracker where there are a lot of opportunities for people to dance small numbers and in The Sleeping Beauty where those BRB2 dancers are heavily featured

“That for me is very satisfying as the dancers are not just delivering a high standard technically and artistically but they are learning good professional behaviour, to be able to maintain and to manage their workload healthily and sustainably.”  

The 2024 BRB2 tour, which features both live cello and piano music and some recorded tracks, gives audiences an opportunity to experience this dance talent in its early stages, says Kit. 

“They are going to see top quality performances from top quality professionals and the programme consists of some real heavy hitters of the ballet repertoire.  

“The first half is very classical, roughly the greatest hits of 19th century ballet, and the second half is a little more recent, predominantly the 20th century, although we have Will’s brand-new piece in there. The second half is slightly less classical musically as well, so we have some tango, but still very much ballet. 

“There is variety across the show, so whatever your taste in ballet, there will be something for you. And the performances are going to be absolutely fantastic, audiences are going to see the highest calibre of performance from these dancers.  

“These are the best and it’s an opportunity to catch these people early in their careers before they go on to be top dancers in companies across the world.” 

The dancers have also been fortunate to work on a world premiere with Will Tuckett, who choreographed the award-nominated Lazuli Sky for Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2021. 

 “Will is a fantastic choreographer, he’s very smart and he knows what works for an audience, what is beautiful to look at,” says Kit.  

“He’s brilliant in the studio, his way of working is really conducive to getting the best out of the dancers and he works very collaboratively. The work is made very much on the dancers and it is going to be gorgeous.” 

It will be the first time BRB2 have performed in Poole and Kit is looking forward to sharing their talents with new audiences. 

“BRB hasn’t been to Lighthouse for a while but they have a fantastic dance audience there. We’re really excited to and reconnect with audiences that we haven’t seen for a while.” 

Tickets available now at BRB2: Carlos Acosta’s Classical Selection – Lighthouse (lighthousepoole.co.uk)

Kit Holder

Kit Holder - photo credit Johan Persson