Birmingham Royal Ballet announces promotions, joiners, and leavers for 2023/24 season
Carlos Acosta, Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, has announced promotions within the Company and new joiners for the 2023/24 season saying, “It has been a whirlwind year so far for everyone involved in Birmingham Royal Ballet. As the 2022-23 Season draws to an end I know everyone is looking forward to a well-deserved break and to returning in August with renewed energy for the exciting season ahead. We will continue to balance classical favourites with new work specially commissioned for the company and, after a hugely successful first year, we bring a new cohort to our BRB2 company for another national tour. I want to say a very special thank you in particular to Marion Tait who has been a constant inspiration to everyone here and in the world of ballet. Also Carmen Piqueras and Brandon Lawrence whose glittering careers I know will continue to flourish.”
Announced on stage by Carlos Acosta during the run of Swan Lake at Birmingham Hippodrome, Lachlan Monaghan and Max Maslen were promoted to Principal.
The following promotions have also now been made within the Company: Gabriel Anderson, Rosanna Ely, Sofia Liñares and Lucy Waine have been promoted to First Artist.
Audiences have enjoyed performances by these artists in everything from Swan Lake to BRB2. Gabriel joined BRB in 2016, Rosanna in 2014, Sofia and Lucy in 2020.
Joining the company are: Olivia Chang Clarke – Artist (previously Apprentice) and Yasiel Hodelin Bello (Cuban National Ballet School) – Soloist.
Joining the 2023/24 season BRB2 company as Artists are Nasrullah Abdur-Rahman (USA / Boston Ballet School), Ariana Allen (UK / Royal Ballet School), Alisa Garkavenko (Ukraine / Princess Grace Academy), Thomas Hazelby (UK / Royal Ballet School), Rosa Lidia-Nuesi (Dominican Republic / Acosta Danza), Alexandra Manuel (USA / Royal Ballet School) and Alfie Shacklock(UK/Australia / Royal Ballet School).
They will join the cohort of the first year of BRB2, Oscar Kempsey-Fagg (UK), Mason King (UK/New Zealand), Frieda Kaden (Germany), Mailene Katoch (France) and Jack Easton (USA).
Ballet Staff Appointments include: Patricia Tierney – Répétiteur and Samara Downs – who will transition to the role of Assistant Répétiteur in the coming season.
Leaving the company at the end of the season are Marion Tait – Rehearsal Director and Coach; Carmen Piqueras – Répétiteur and Brandon Lawrence – Principal Dancer will take up a new position at Zürich Ballet. He ended his time at BRB by performing in all three pieces in the final performance of the summer triple bill: Apollo, Interlinked and ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café.
Born in London, Marion Tait joined the Royal Ballet School at 15, graduating to The Royal Ballet’s touring company. She danced the ballerina roles in all the classics and in Romeo and Juliet, Elite Syncopations, Las Hermanas, The Invitation, Hobson’s Choice, The Dream, The Burrow, Fall River Legend (Lizzie Borden) and Pillar of Fire (Hagar). She created many roles in ballets by MacMillan and Bintley, and appeared as a guest worldwide. She was given an OBE in 1992 and made a CBE in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours. She has been nominated for two Olivier Awards, won the Evening Standard Ballet Award and was named Dancer of the Year 1994. Marion assisted Desmond Kelly in Ballet Changed My Life – Ballet Hoo!, the education project documented on Channel 4 in 2006, for which she was presented with the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in 2008. In more recent years she was the Company’s Ballet Mistress and then succeeded Desmond Kelly as Assistant Director, a role she stood down from in early 2021. In February 2020, Marion was awarded the De Valois Award for outstanding contribution to dance at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards.
Born in Murcia, Spain, Carmen Piqueras trained with Jose Antonio Robles and then with the Carmina Ocaña Ballet School in Madrid. She has danced in several European companies including Ballet Victor Ullate, European Ballet, Zürich Ballet, English National Ballet and joined the Semperoper Ballett, Dresden, in 2006 where she was then promoted to a Soloist. She has danced a wide variety of repertoire from classical to contemporary. Since 2008 Carmen has been a guest ballet teacher in many different dance companies throughout Europe. She was Ballet Master with the Semperoper Ballett (2016-21), responsible for the choreographies of MacMillan, Balanchine, Forsythe, Asthon, Dawson, Watkin, Celis, Peck, Inger, Bausch, among others. She joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2021.
Samara Downs joined BRB in 2003 and was made Principal in 2016. As a nine-year old ballet student, Samara danced in BRB’s The Nutcracker party scene. Since then she has danced in more than 300 performances of that production. She has created roles for many ballets including, David Bintley’s Cinderella, Ruth Brill’s Rhapsody in Blue and Alexander Whitley’s Kin. Her repertory roles include everything from Frederick Ashton’s Enigma Variations to Sir Peter Wright’s Swan Lake taking in Balanchine, Cranko, MacMillan and numerous other important 20th Century choreographer’s work in her award-winning career.
Brandon Lawrence joined BRB from the Royal Ballet School in 2011. He was promoted to Soloist in 2016 and First Soloist in 2018. He was made a Principal in 2019. Created roles: Principal role in George Williamson’s Embrace, Pan in Ruth Brill’s Arcadia, La Grâce in David Bintley’s The King Dances, Alexander Whitley’s Kin., Red Couple in Juanjo Arqués’s Ignite, and roles in Didy Veldman’s Sense of Time, Jessica Lang’s Lyric Pieces and Wink, Jack Lister’s A Brief Nostalgia, Miguel Altunaga’s City of a Thousand Trades and Juliano Nunes’s Interlinked. Brandon has helped with the LEAP Department’s Ballet? What’s That? events aimed at those completely new to the world of ballet.
Visit brb.org.uk to learn more.