Newcastle Falcons given a lesson in grace from ballet stars at Sunderland Empire
Rugby stars swapped the scrum for Swan Lake for a lesson in grace.
Players from the Newcastle Falcons rugby union club visited Sunderland Empire for a tutorial with performers from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake.
Rugby players including Sean Robinson, Phillip van der Walt, Connor Collett and Tom Penny were put through their paces by Pearl Chesterman and Rebecca Brookes, from the ballet company’s LEAP (Learning, Engagement, Access & Participation department) team, with demonstrations from two of the company's principal dancers, Max Maslen and Miki Mizutani.
The aim of the session was to teach the rugby players stretches and movements with classically trained ballet dancers that help keep their bodies supple, strong, improve stability that can even aid with rugby injury recovery.
Birmingham Royal Ballet has toured to Sunderland Empire for more than 20 years and have previously collaborated on similar initiatives in the past.
Though they are very contrasting practices, both ballet and rugby are very athletic activities. Mixing the grace, flexibility and stamina of ballet is known to assist with everything from leaps on the pitch to lightness on the feet and core strength.
Sean Robinson, Newcastle Falcon player, said: “It was a really good laugh visiting the professionals at the Sunderland Empire. It goes without saying that it's great to get the chance to be involved in events going on in the region. The North East is a close-knit community and one that all Falcons’ players are incredibly proud to be a part of.
"It was also interesting to get an insight into how the (Birmingham Royal Ballet) dancers train and how we can utilise some of what we learnt to help prevent injury. I don’t think I’ll be excelling as a ballet dancer anytime soon, but there’s definitely some great stuff we can put into our practice.”
The class consisted of warm-ups and ballet stretches, with explanations of a dancer’s training and rehearsal regime, with a focus on efficiency of movement alongside demonstrations from Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers.
The LEAP team and dancers then showed the rugby players how to apply the moves to their own needs and training for their future rugby games.
It is hoped that the rugby players take the moves forward into their own practices, inspire others to take up ballet and explore and immerse themselves into the creative arts.
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Learning, Engagement, Access, and Participation department provides training sessions with company staff and arts professionals, which offer insight into the various departments and job roles available in the industry through behind-the-scenes access, watching Company Classes and rehearsals, workshop room and studio tours, masterclasses and more.
Birmingham Royal Ballet returned to Sunderland Empire last week with one of the world’s most famous ballet love stories, Swan Lake, a lavish production in which the Royal Ballet Sinfonia performs Tchaikovsky’s superb music live alongside BRB’s spectacular dancers as part of a tour across the UK this spring.
It tells the story of Prince Siegfried who is out hunting one night when he happens upon a flock of graceful swans.