Whether you are a ballet lover, a head-banging follower of heavy metal band Black Sabbath and its lead man Ozzy Osbourne, or both, or neither, surely you must be intrigued by the improbable announcement of a Black Sabbath Ballet, which will see Britain's second ballet company, Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) dancing, and indeed head-banging, to old Black Sabbath hits.
Here's a first peek into rehearsals for what is still very much a work in progress:
It's the brainchild of the irrepressible BRB director Carlos Acosta (pictured top with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi). After retiring from full-time dancing, the Cuban superstar brought his unstoppable drive and curiosity to his new job at BRB and is particularly keen to deepen and highlight the links between the company and the city it calls home – Birmingham.
Two years ago, immediately post-pandemic, Birmingham Royal Ballet premiered its City of a Thousand Trades, a balletic representation of, and homage to, Birmingham’s industrial heritage and multicultural communities.
Now comes BRB's association with Birmingham's most famous rock band, Black Sabbath – the band played their first-ever gig in The Crown pub just a stone’s throw from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s base on Thorp Street.
And although the members of Black Sabbath aren't exactly known for their love of ballet, guitarist Tony Iommi was intrigued by Acosta's idea and is now fully on board – after attending rehearsals he's proclaimed himself very excited by what he's seen so far.
The Black Sabbath Ballet is a vastly ambitious project: a full-length three-act work bringing together a veritable firmament of international stars: choreography is by the original and very interesting young Swede Pontus Lidberg, whose work is in the repertoire of the Havana-based Acosta Danza; he'll be supported by choreographers Raúl Reinoso, from Cuba, and Cassi Abranches, from Brazil.
Overall design is by the multi-disciplinary Cuban Alexandre Arrechea, dramaturgy by Richard Thomas and lighting design by Kieron Johnson.
The ballet is set to a selection of some of Black Sabbath's greatest hits, including, of course, Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Paranoid, Ironman and many more. Tony-Award-winning composer Christopher Austin is shaping the ballet's sound, assisted by composers Marko Nyberg and Sun Keting.
All in all a mega-project, and one very much in keeping with Acosta's ambition to revitalise his company and indeed the very image of ballet in the UK and beyond. The Black Sabbath Ballet will premiere in Birmingham on Saturday 23 September, will then tour the UK, and the company fully expects to take it on an international tour.
|What||BRB, Black Sabbath Ballet, Sadler's Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
18 Oct 23 – 21 Oct 23, 19:30 Sat mat at 14:00 Dur.: TBC