Carlos Acosta's BRB2 begins new UK Tour with global emerging ballet talent

Carlos Acosta’s BRB2 begins new UK Tour with global emerging ballet talent

In Spring 2023, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s (BRB) Director, the world-renowned Carlos Acosta, launched BRB2 – a new initiative through which BRB pro-actively seeks out some of the best young ballet graduates from across the globe.

After 12 months with BRB2, all five original members of the 2023 cohort will join the Birmingham Royal Ballet Company as Artists at the end of the current season. They are: Jack Easton, Frieda Kaden, Maïlène Katoch, Mason King and Oscar Kempsey Fagg.

Now, after a hugely successful inaugural tour in 2023, BRB2 hits the road again with further performances of Carlos Acosta’s Classical Selection, a mixed programme of balletic highlights chosen by Acosta himself, visiting some venues for the first time. Opening in Cheltenham, the tour then visits Poole, Northampton, Canterbury and Peterborough. BRB2’s visit to Canterbury will mark the first time Birmingham Royal Ballet has performed in the city.

BRB2 features some of the brightest young stars in the ballet world, hailing from the UK, USA, Ukraine, France, Germany, New Zealand and Australia, and offers a unique opportunity for audiences to be the first to see ballet’s elite rising stars on stage.

In this second year the original cohort, who are all joining the main Company as Artists from this Autumn, are joined by five new members of the company selected by Carlos Acosta and Assistant Director Dominic Antonucci. They are: Ariana Allen (UK / Royal Ballet School), Alisa Garkavenko (Ukraine / Princess Grace Academy), Thomas Hazelby (UK / Royal Ballet School), Alexandra Manuel (USA / Royal Ballet School) and Alfie Shacklock(UK/Australia / Royal Ballet School).

Alisa Garkavenko trained at Kyiv State Ballet School and Vaganova Ballet Academy in Ukraine. When Russia declared war on Ukraine, Alisa was offered refuge at Monaco’s Princess Grace Academy before joining BRB2. Alisa said: “I think it is really important to have junior companies like BRB2 because this kind of company, they are giving the opportunity to young dancers to show their talent. It’s an incredible experience.”

BRB2 is a magnet for the best UK and international talent, providing extensive training and professional experience, sending developed, professional dancers back into the dance sector and providing role models for the next generation. The two-year performance programme provides vital employment for the next generation of exceptional ballet dancers (aged 18-22) to transition from training into jobs at BRB or other leading ballet companies, impacting the dance sector worldwide.

BRB2 dancers have danced alongside the main Company, with many from last year’s cohort performing pivotal roles in the current repertoire, including the world premiere of Black Sabbath – The Ballet, The Nutcracker and the current UK tour of The Sleeping Beauty.

The music for End of Time and Dying Swans will be performed live by Jeanette Wong (Head of Piano) and Antonio Novais (Principal Cellist). Jeanette will also perform two solo piano pieces by Ravel to accompany a brand-new duet, titled Mirrored, choreographed especially for BRB2 this year by Will Tuckett.

Carlos Acosta said: “Everyone was so delighted with how the inaugural year of BRB2 went. It’s been a great year, watching the inaugural group of dancers grow and develop, and to welcome the second intake join and quickly establish themselves as vital members of the Company. Many BRB2 artists are already taking important roles in the current The Sleeping Beauty tour and I cannot be more thrilled that all of the initial intake will be joining the Company full-time at the end of this season. It’s not just about talent spotting though! My Classical Selection is a brilliant evening of ballet whether you are an established fan or looking for a way to discover what ballet is all about.”

BRB’s First Soloist, Kit Holder, will again lead BRB2 as Artistic Coordinator, he said: “Last year’s inaugural BRB2 tour was a huge success and set the bar very high both technically and artistically. It’s been wonderful to support the development of these young dancers who are already becoming seasoned professionals and I’m really pleased that our initial cohort will all be staying on to continue their careers as full members of Birmingham Royal Ballet. I am excited to watch their careers continue to develop and I’m proud to have helped propel them on to continuing success.  I’m also excited by the new dancers who have joined us this season to begin their professional careers and I look forward to showcasing the talents of all of these young artists with audiences across the country in the spring.”

The programme for the 2024 UK tour includes the world premiere of Mirrored, a wholly new duet created by William Tuckett for BRB2. Further pas de deux include Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody – premiered at The Royal Ballet in 1980 by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lesley Collier; August Bournonville’s most famous ballet La Sylphide; the love duet from Swan Lake – probably the most famous pas de deux in ballet; Carlos Acosta’s take on Fokine’s The Dying Swan which features two dancers instead of one (hence The Dying Swans plural) and is double the usual length; Marius Petipa’s Diana and Actaeon pas de deux; Ben Stevenson’s End of Time set to Rachmaninov’s gloriously melancholic Sonata in G Minor (3rd movement).

In the second half Gustavo Mollajoli’s A Buenos Aires celebrates the spirit of tango to music by Astor Piazzolla; the iconic Edith Piaf’s Je ne regrette rien choreographed by Ben Van Cauwenbergh, whose Jacques Brel-inspired humorous gala piece Les Bourgeois will also feature. Acosta’s choreography for the Carmen pas de deux promises to raise the temperature with Bizet’s heat-seeking score. Will Tuckett’s new duet Mirrored will captivate audiences before Jorges Garcia’s Majisimo closes out the programme, performed to Massenet’s music from Le Cid.

For full tour details visit

BRB2 Masong King and Mailene Katoch in Swan Lake Pas de Deux, Photo credit Johan Persson