Up close and personal with Elmhurst Ballet School’s Robert Parker
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I am Robert Parker, former principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet and since 2012 the artistic director of Elmhurst Ballet School. Elmhurst is a world-class centre of excellence for the training and education of classical ballet dancers where graduating students are prepared to secure contracts with national and international professional ballet companies. The high standard of dance training is combined with a strong academic education and a caring environment. I oversee the school’s artistic output, including implementing the dance curriculum and organising performance opportunities.
HOW DO YOU GET INTO TOWN?
The school, in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, is in Edgbaston next door to the Priory Hospital and a stone’s throw away from the famous cricket ground. It’s an easy commute by car along the Bristol Road as I live the other side of the city centre in the vibrant Jewellery Quarter.
HOW’S THE COMMUTE?
I go against the rush-hour traffic which is a bonus! I start work very early and leave Elmhurst after the evening rush, so traffic is never a problem.
IS BRUM A GOOD PLACE TO WORK IN?
Birmingham has so much to offer in terms of culture and it’s a fabulous hub for dance. It is also ideal in terms of its location, which is appreciated by the parents of our students who travel from all corners of the UK and beyond.
There are so many convenient places for an offsite meeting or an ‘away day’. The perfectly located mac birmingham, the White Swan in Edgbaston and most recently the fabulous Beckett’s Farm Shop on the Alcester Road – all are among my personal favourites. I highly recommend the pork bap with gravy and apple sauce at Beckett’s!
Elmhurst’s bistro has such good food I don’t really need to go anywhere. If I do leave the building it depends on who I am entertaining. For a trendy vibe it has to be Urban Coffee on Warstone Lane in the Jewellery Quarter. However, my heart belongs to Home is Where on Church Street, again in the JQ, where I regularly take my nine-year-old daughter for breakfast on a weekend. Try the porridge with honey and banana!
Despite what my knees might say now, I am a keen runner and recently completed the London Marathon for the first time. I spent many hours training along the picturesque network of canals around Birmingham, taking in the air and occasional sunshine. Pure escapism!
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CITY?
It has to be the Jewellery Quarter with its bars, restaurants and historical atmosphere. A very cool and relaxing place to live.
The Pig and Tail on Albion Street in the JQ. Mediterranean tapas washed down with a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Or if I’m with the lads, a beer with a mystical name such as Hobgoblin Abbey!
HOW CAN THE CITY BE MADE BETTER?
Birmingham has so much to offer I wouldn’t change anything except the weather! From when I moved to the city in 1994 as a dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet, the city is now almost unrecognisable. As you may have guessed I’m a bit of a foody, so with six Michelin star restaurants to boast about I think Birmingham is the place to be.