- Posted September 11, 2012 by
Birmingham, United Kingdom
This iReport is part of an assignment:
A ballet nerd's pilgrimage
My family and I traveled from the U.S. to Birmingham, England, to see a ballet.
Not just any ballet. This was the Birmingham Royal Ballet performing David Bintley's "Hobson's Choice." We've been obsessed with the relatively obscure production ever since my grandmother taped it off TV for us when my sister and I were little kids taking ballet. I mean, several years ago we bought my mom a region 2 DVD player just so we could order the DVD of Hobson's Choice from England (it's not sold here). The BRB is the only company to perform Hobson's Choice -- Bintley doesn't allow other companies to purchase rights to his work -- and they don't do it often. So when we heard that they'd be performing Hobson in February 2012 in Birmingham, we realized it was time for a family pilgrimage to England.
We bought our tickets months in advance, and when the ballet's staff saw that we were coming all the way from the States, they kindly arranged some special treats for us. Before the performance, the stage manager gave us a detailed backstage tour and let us photograph the sets and costumes (I haven't posted them here because she said she would be "very unhappy" if we shared the images online, and we can't have that!). And then there was the huge surprise: At intermission, choreographer and director David Bintley himself came into the audience to chat with our family about the ballet and give us a signed copy of a commemorative book about the BRB. Now, you might not have heard of him, but to us, he's a genius and a legacy, a master of the English tradition of ballet storytelling. My mom could barely even speak when he introduced himself.
Seeing the ballet in person was a dream come true for our entire family. It's the quintessential English ballet -- a work that tells a story, features compelling and unique characters, and isn't afraid of a little whimsy. Even people who think they can't stand ballet love Hobson's Choice. And it was more than worth traveling all the way to Birmingham to see.
Incidentally, the BRB will be in Atlanta next year to perform another Bintley work. It's not Hobson, but you better believe we'll be there. You should be too.