Tag Archive: Delia Mathews

Seven Cinderellas

This year Birmingham Royal Ballet will perform Cinderella 23 times at Birmingham Hippodrome. A total of seven dancers are currently preparing to dance the lead role, to spread the demanding workload evenly throughout the Company.

Here’s an introduction to our seven Cinderellas, along with notes on where you may have seen them before…

Elisha Willis

Elisha originally worked with David Bintley to create the role of Cinderella back in 2010, and was featured in the BBC broadcast of the ballet. She has danced the lead female role in a number of David’s pieces, including Edward II, The Orpheus Suite, Cyrano and Hobson’s Choice. David describes Elisha as having ‘a fearless technique’. Here you can see a video diary recorded by the Director during the creation of Cinderella, including footage of Elisha in the title role at approximately the 1 minute mark.

Nao Sakuma

Another Principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Japan-born Nao is a virtuoso calssical performer. She has danced every major ballet in the Company’s repertory, and appeared as Cinderella during the production’s first season. She is a regular performer at the annual ArtsFest in Birmingham’s Centenary Square, and well as Gala events world-wide. Here you can see her in studio rehearsals for Le Corsaire, with Chi Cao:

Natasha Oughtred

A wonderful classical dancer, Natasha has worked with David in both narrative ballets (Far From the Madding Crowd, Sylvia) and abstract work (The Dance House, Galanteries). She returns to the role of Cinderella, which she danced throughout the premiere season, including Birmingham Royal Ballet’s last performance of the show in April 2011 in London. David has praised Natasha’s affinity for the ‘English’ school of ballet, as well as her versatility as a dancer.

Jenna Roberts

This marks Jenna’s first year as Principal, having been promoted at the end of last season. She may well be recognisable even to non-theatre going audiences, having appeared in the Channel 4 documentary Ballet Hoo! In the programme, she was one of only a handful of professional dancers who joined a group of young people to perform Kenneth MacMillan’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Jenna’s sister, Callie, is also a dancer with the Company, and will coincidentally be taking on the role of one of Cinderella’s cruel siblings for some performances!

Momoko Hirata

For the 2010 premiere, Momoko created the role of Spring, one of four nymph-like characters conjured up by Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Having left the Company to dance in Europe in early 2011, we’re delighted that she has rejoined us in time for Cinderella’s return. While she will be reprising the role of Spring, in other performances she will be dancing the role of Cinderella. Having just made an acclaimed debut as Odette/Odile in this autumn’s performance of Swan Lake, Momoko has proven herself a strong leading actress. In the clip below you can see her dancing the role of the Princess in David Bintley’s Aladdin, which received its UK premiere in 2013.

Maureya Lebowitz

Maureya only joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2011, but has already appeared in a number of high-profile roles, including the doomed Fanny in David Bintley’s Far From the Madding Crowd. During this year’s International Dance Festival Birmingham, she was part of a group of dancers who worked with US-based Choreographer Jessica Lang on a new ballet, Lyric Pieces. The Company subsequently toured the piece to London, where Maureya was praised by the national press. This video, shot during the first week of Cinderella rehearsals, shows Maureya and fellow lead Delia Mathews (see below) sharing a studio to run through a solo from Act I of the production. In the scene, Cinderella dances barefoot in the kitchen she calls home.

Delia Mathews

Another of the original cast for Cinderella, Delia worked with David Bintley to create the Character of Winter, summoned by the Fairy Godmother to usher the heroine to the ball. While Delia will be returning to the role, she will also be dancing the role of Cinderella. As if that were not enough, some audiences will also see her playing a guest at the Prince’s Ball, a waltzing Star AND the Fairy Godmother. Having also just made her debut as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, we’re not envying Delia her rehearsal schedule at the moment! Here you can see Delia in studio rehearsals for last summer’s performances of Elite Syncopations.

Cinderella returns to Birmingham Hippodrome, 21 November-9 December 2012. Click here to book your seats now.

Delia Mathews interview

Having finished the 2012 autumn tour, Birmingham Royal Ballet returned to our Midlands HQ on Monday, for a full week of Cinderella rehearsals.

Over the course of the winter season, seven different ballerinas will take to the stage as Cinderella, each with a different male dancer partnering them as the handsome prince.

One of them is First Artist Delia Mathews, who has already made her debut this autumn as the lead in Swan Lake (‘I really enjoyed it!’) and was among five Principal couples who on Monday shared a studio rehearsal.

‘We had a few rehearsals during the recent tour’, says Delia. ‘We had one in Cardiff last week, between the triple bill and Swan Lake. To be honest my mind was fairly full of Swan Lake, so it didn’t really go in, but at least it was a chance to try things out. We can focus properly now.’

The dancers are been a great support to each other at this early stage, with the shared rehearsal providing a chance to learn from one another.

‘That’s been great, because there’s a lot to learn’, confirms Delia. ‘It’s been especially good having the chance to work with Elisha and Iain, because they created those roles, so they know them inside out. They know exactly what David’s thought processes were when the characters were first made, so it’s been great having their support.’

In these photos, taken during Monday’s rehearsal, you can see Iain and Elisha helping Delia and partner Tyrone Singleton with one of the lifts. Also featured is Ballet Master Wolfgang Stollwitzer.

‘A lot of it is about co-ordination between partners,’ Delia explains, ‘as well as balance. If you don’t end up right above his head, it’s much harder for your partner to support you.’

‘The guys usually tell you not to try to help too much, and to just let them lift you. If you jump even a second earlier than they’re expecting, then they can end up having to catch you on your way down and lift you back up, rather than just push you into the air in one movement.’

This is the first time that Delia has danced with Tyrone Singleton. ‘I’ve heard he’s a great partner,’ she says, ‘so I’m really looking forward to working with him this season.’

But her work on Cinderella does not end with the title role. Across the three-week run in Birmingham, Delia will be playing a total of five characters. ‘I’m dancing Cinderella, Winter, one of the Stars, one of the Eight Ladies (the guests at the Prince’s Ball) and the Fairy Godmother! It’s a lot to learn, and in not much time, but I’m excited.’

In the story, Winter is one of four fairies, each representing a different season, who help the Fairy Godmother to transform Cinderella for the ball. It will be a particularly special role for Delia, having created the character for the original 2010 production.

It will also give her a chance to help those new to the role, in the same way that Elisha has supported Delia herself. And of course it also means that she is already familiar with the choreography.

‘It’s really nice to go back to something that’s already in your muscle memory, so you can work on it further’, she says. ‘It’s amazing how quickly it comes flooding back. When you put the music on, your body just does it!’

Click here to book for Cinderella now.

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