Michael Berkeley's guest this week is David Bintley, Artistic Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and one of Britain's finest choreographers. He started out as a dancer, and one of his early leading roles with the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet (now the Birmingham Royal Ballet) was Stravinsky's puppet Petrushka - a role that made huge physical demands, as he tells Michael Berkeley. He made a name as a character dancer - other major roles included Widow Simone in Frederick Ashton's 'La fille mal gardee', Bottom in 'The Dream', an Ugly Sister in Ashton's 'Cinderella', the Red King in Ninette de Valois' 'Checkmate' and the Rake in her 'Rake's Progress'.
David Bintley always wanted to be a choreographer since he made his first ballet aged 16 to Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale, and at 18 he made his debut as a choreographer for the Sadler's Wells company. From 1986 to 1993 he was resident choreographer at Covent Garden, and then left to work freelance for companies around the world. in 1995 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, where his work has ranged from Far from the Madding Crowd (1996) and Cyrano (1997) to popular hits such as The Nutcracker Sweeties, mingling classical ballet wirh jazz; the jazz-inspired reinterpretation of the Orpheus legend in 'The Orpheus Suite'; 'Cinderella', and 'Beauty and the Beast'. His double bill 'Passion and Ecstasy', combining 'Carmina burana', based on Orff's cantata, and 'Allegri diversi', based on Rossini, is currently playing at Birmingham.
His personal music choices range from Mahler's Resurrection Symphony to a dance from Petrushka, the end of Act II of Verdi's 'Otello', an extract from Britten's 'Prince of the Pagodas' and works by James MacMillan, Bob Dylan and Matthew Hindson.