Carlos acosta and pre-professional year student oscar kempsey-fagg

Student interviews Carlos Acosta and Lauren Waine from Birmingham Royal Ballet

This week, Pre-professional student Oscar Kempsey-Fagg interviewed Birmingham Royal Ballet Director and Royal Ballet School Governor Carlos Acosta, as well as alumna and Birmingham Royal Ballet Artist Lucy Waine. During the Instagram Live chat, the three spoke about Carlos’ new production of Don Quixote. The ballet has been touring the country this year and will be coming to Sadler’s Wells Theatre from 6-9 July. We share some excerpts from the interview here.

The iconic Don Quixote

Acosta created a new version of Don Quixote in 2014 with The Royal Ballet and when he became Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2020, he was keen to bring the ballet to life again at the Company. He answered some of Oscar’s questions:

Can you tell us why you choose this ballet and what it means to you?

I think that for a large ballet company Don Quixote is a must. It’s a ballet I’m very familiar with, I’ve been performing this ballet since I was 16… I have a grasp of what this ballet should be about and I thought that I could add my imprint to this production.

This is a ballet where everyone dances constantly, it’s full of escapism and passion, and I thought that this is a ballet that the Company would have great fun performing.

What would you say makes this production so special?

I extended the concept of blending the past and present further in this version – why would you revive a classic as it was when you can now do so much more? I added some choreography and there is some new music as well. This production feels a lot fresher and a lot more ‘now’.

Queen of the Dryads

Lucy Waine joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2020 after graduating from The Royal Ballet School. She has been dancing the role of Queen of the Dryads in Birmingham’s tour of Don Quixote, and shared her experience with Oscar:

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far?

I’m in my second season at Birmingham Royal Ballet. I graduated from The Royal Ballet School after I spent 8 years there. It’s been the most amazing transition from the School to the Company and I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in a huge variety of repertoire, Don Quixote being the most recent.

Could you tell us more about the role of Queen of the Dryads and your experience performing it?

The Queen of the Dryads is a pretty iconic solo for any ballet lovers internationally. She quite literally is the queen of 19 other Dryads on stage. The Dryads is a scene to be a vision, a dream for the character of Don Quixote. The Queen has this solo – it’s performed a lot in competitions all around the world. It’s a very challenging solo but it’s very beautiful, very artistic and adagio.  

What would you say is the hardest part and what do you enjoy the most?

Probably the hardest part is the Italian fouettés at the end of the solo. It’s a wonderful opportunity to perform it and try to have the stamina at the end of the solo and finish and complete those Italian fouettés at the end… I think the most enjoyable part for me is the gipsy scene. This scene is very special to this production as it’s Carlos’ own choreography so it’s very unique. Not many Don Quixote productions around the world have this scene. It’s very high energy, celebrating around a campfire. There are wonderful costumes so that’s definitely a highlight for me.

What’s been the best part of being on tour so far?

I think one of the best parts is being able to take this special ballet to such a wide variety of audiences around the country. The audience’s response has been really warm and I hope it is again in London. It’s such a vibrant ballet that is very dynamic and technical so seeing lots of different audiences and being on lots of different stages was really special to the production. We were very fortunate to have brand new costumes for this production, unique to Birmingham Royal Ballet. They’re beautifully made. The set and the props were all new as well so that was wonderful to have all the stage calls surrounded by all these bright and vibrant colours.

Find out more about Don Quixote at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.