Birmingham Royal Ballet’s principal dancer, Brandon Lawrence reflected on his time with the company and in the city as he prepared for a fresh chapter in his career with Switzerland’s Ballett Zürich
Image credit: Apollo by Richard Battye
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire and attended the Royal Ballet School at age 14. After five years, I graduated and joined Birmingham Royal Ballet working through the ranks from artist to principal dancer. Working closely with Sir David Bintley and Carlos Acosta has been incredibly valuable as well as collaborating with a fine team of creatives that walk through the company doors each year. After 12 blessed seasons I’m moving to Ballet Zürich to build onto everything I’ve learnt from my time at BRB
IT’S WHAT I DO
As a principal dancer I dance the leading roles on many occasions, partnering the wonderful ballerinas and being a strong voice and ambassador for the company. From my first day up until now I’ve been given rewarding opportunities from dining with, dancing for and meeting Royalty to segments on Sunday Brunch and CBeebies. It’s hard being a performer as it’s physically challenging and mentally testing however being able to transport an audience and bring an emotion to a performance is satisfying on many levels.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
I’ve always just wanted to be the best version of myself both in the studio, on stage and in my personal life. A dancer’s career is short but so is life, so I try to take the opportunities presented to me and saviour the experience. My ambition is to keep good health, work hard in all areas and to be happy.
To date it’s probably becoming a principal dancer in a company that I love. It’s taken a lot of hard work with a good team around me, but it’s been an adventure which not everyone gets to experience. Every day I feel thankful to see where I am from where I was. I never thought this boy from Bradford would ever meet the King and Queen!
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
Not say ‘yes’ to everything. There came a point where I stretched myself with work so much that I had no ‘me’ time. I hardly saw family or friends and I was close to burning out. I’ve learnt to think wisely about what I commit my time to.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
When I arrived in Birmingham in 2011 my first impression was excitement. My first job and I was moving to the second city where there was such a buzz for culture and art. What has quickly become my favourite thing is the number of venues where you can watch shows, etc… one night at the Hippodrome, the other the Alex, then Symphony Hall onto the arena then the 02 venues. There’s so much on the doorstep. Sometimes I struggle to just have a night at home.
I love cooking, baking and making pasta. Spa days always go down well, as does afternoon tea and lots of walking around Birmingham. And good music – I’m a huge fan of Classic FM and Smooth Chill.
There’s much I will miss when I leave Birmingham as I’ve spent all of my 20s here. Lots of memories wrapped up in this wonderful city and many people who’ve made it special. Birmingham and BRB will always be my spiritual home.