Saturday, 21 January 2017

How Nikiya must have felt when she saw a snake

I want to make clear that I have not been able to confirm this news. Nobody from the Birmingham Royal Ballet has been in touch with me about the cancellation of La Bayadѐre even though I encouraged readers to donate to The Big Give appeal to stage that ballet in A Birmingham Bayadere on 28 Nov. There is nothing about the cancellation on Birmingham Royal Ballet's website.  Indeed, the Big Give page on its website still bears a picture of the golden idol with the words
"La Bayadère to Birmingham, and beyond...
In autumn 2017 we will be performing Stanton Welch's amazing staging of La Bayadère. Featuring a fire god, fantastical dream sequences and a collapsing temple, La Bayadère is a classical ballet with a touch of Bollywood flair. This exciting ballet tells the story of Nikiya, a temple dancer, her lover Solor, and the terrible vengeance that keeps them apart. La Bayadère sits alongside Swan Lake and Giselle as one of the great 19th-century classics and one not so far performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet. This Christmas, please make a donation to help us bring this cornerstone of the repertory to Birmingham and our wonderful tour venues."
However, several subscribers to BaletcoForum seem to have received letters from the company advising them that La Bayadère has been cancelled owing to an unexpectedly large cut in Birmingham City Council's grant and that Birmingham Royal Ballet intends to revive Aladdin (which I reviewed in Birmingham Royal Ballet's Aladdin on 1 March 2013) instead.

If the story proves to be true I apologize to any reader who was persuaded to donate to BRB's Big Give appeal by my article. I am acutely aware that BRB competed for funds with English National Ballet and BalletBoyz who were raising money in the Big Give for their classes for patients suffering from Parkinson's disease (see ENB's Big Give to Dance for Parkinson's 25 Nov 2016) and also with Ballet Cymru which sought contributions for a new roof for its premises in Newport (see Ballet Cymru's Big Give Appeal 29 Nov 2016). Scottish Ballet was also appealing for funds for its young dancer mentoring scheme though not in the Big Give (see Scottish Ballet's Young Dancer Mentoring Scheme 10 Nov 2011). Northern Ballet had a Christmas appeal too.

I am glad to say that ENB, BalletBoyz and Ballet Cymru all met their targets as did BRB with a generous surplus so no harm would have been done. I contributed to ENB's appeal in the Big Give because it was the only cause that still had match funding just before the Big Give closed. I seem to remember from my classes at law school that gifts to a charity differ from contributions to other good causes in that they can be applied to the charity's other work by a doctrine known as cy près.  Such gifts do not have to be held on resulting trust for the contributors. I am sure that everybody in BRB acted with the best of intentions and in good faith. I will see and review Aladdin when it comes to the Lowry and BRB remains one of my favourite companies. But that does not stop me feeling very sad and not a little embarrassed about the cancellation of La Bayadѐre. I do wish the company would make a public announcement about the cancellation and not just write to some of its supporters. Above all, I do wish it would remove references to La Bayadere from the Big Give page of its website.

Postscript 23 Jan 2017

I am glad to report that Birmingham Royal Ballet has removed the reference to La Bayadère from its Big Give page. In fact, it has taken down the page altogether.

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