Episode 2 Agony & Ecstasy: A Year with English National Ballet


Episode 2

Series going behind the scenes at the English National Ballet. The company fight to finish their most ambitious production of the year - Rudolf Nureyev's Romeo & Juliet.


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Transcript


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On stage, a ballet dancer is serene, elegant and measured...

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-..but behind the scenes it's a different story.

-Do this.

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Derek says this is what it is. Do it.

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With unprecedented access to English National Ballet...

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one of the UK's elite dance companies...

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-..this series will reveal what it takes to put on a world class ballet.

-We'll start again.

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-If you want to do that we can take you out of this.

-He's taking me out.

-If that's how you want to behave.

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This time, the dancers are under pressure

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in the most dangerous ballet in the company's repertoire...

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Romeo and Juliet.

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As I came to stab him, he caught the blade instead of my hand.

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Already this week, we have three guys off.

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-This is terrifying.

-And with government cuts looming, major decisions must be made.

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Are we talking about fewer members of staff, you know, fewer dancers? Which is devastating.

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To succeed they must endure injuries and disappointment.

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Why do I go through the pain? Is it worth it?

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All in the pursuit of perfection.

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Now we can start to do bad cop and get them scared.

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It's a ball-breaker.

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English National Ballet is fighting for survival.

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Max Westwell and his friends James Forbat and Shev Dynott are dancers at English National Ballet.

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Thank you.

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If I tell someone that I'm a dancer,

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it depends. If I'm like this holding a pint they're like, "You're lying,"

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it's definitely a joke. Or like people are like,

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"You look like a rugby player or a swimmer or a..."

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-I know.

-People are like... Generally I don't get believed. You get, "Can you do the splits?"

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-You get that a lot.

-"Can you do the splits?"

-It's quite a general thing.

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Generally you don't do the splits unless you've had a lot to drink.

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-I do the splits all the time.

-I know you do.

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No, no-one ever says they don't believe me when I say I'm a ballet dancer.

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-Really?

-Funnily enough.

-So why do they believe James?

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-Um.

-There's a simple answer to that question.

-The simple answer is he's gay and I'm not.

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I don't know.

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I have no idea. Maybe I'm a bit bigger.

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< INTERVIEWER: So is that the stereotype then?

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Yeah, that they think you're gay. So me and Shev live together.

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We say me and Shev live together and they instantly think you're gay, even though you're not.

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I think it's a cool job to have.

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Because I don't wear little hats like this and sparkly tops.

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At the home of English National Ballet in Kensington, West London, 64 dancers rehearse daily.

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Max is one of 32 men in the company.

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Yep, your rhythm for the pirouette is ta da yada ta da ya pa ya ta te.

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He has been with English National Ballet six years and is a lower rank dancer.

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Yes, the same again.

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Max is one of the workhorses normally dancing the group numbers and bit parts.

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Other way, Max.

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'There's a certain amount of waiting in line.

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'I did about two years of literally just doing the lowest of the low and trying not to kill myself.'

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To move up the ranks and be promoted Max needs to be cast in a lead role.

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Something he has never done before.

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'There's always an eye watching you. It's massively competitive.

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'If you slack off, aren't in good shape and don't look good

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'and aren't improving then you're not going to progress.

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'You've got to deliver otherwise...'

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I mean, if she wasn't impressed then they'd go back up to the office and be like, "I'm not sure about him.

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"He doesn't look quite on top of it," and then they'd waiver.

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One, two, three, four, five. Keep up. Up! Keep your dance up.

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Up. Oh, bloody hell!

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God, Max.

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God.

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Where's your sex appeal, Max?

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You can't loose your sex appeal just because you're tired.

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At 24, Max is still hoping to be promoted.

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But for 36-year-old Daniel Jones, time is running out.

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He's been with the company for 19 years and has never reached the highest level of principal dancer.

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'I've had a very difficult period'

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with having injuries and...

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it's meant that I've been taken out of roles that I would consider to be good

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and that I could do and there's never any guarantee

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that I'm going to get opportunities again in the future.

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The glamorous dressing room.

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'You know, ballet's what I know. It's been my life.

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'I really believe that I've got more to give.

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'I wouldn't be here if I didn't think that.'

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The man in charge of who gets promoted is artistic director Wayne Eagling

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and Daniel is meeting him to discuss his future.

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Come on. Come on in, Danny.

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I'm asking this year everybody the same question.

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What is your aspiration within the company now?

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Do you see yourself stopping? You know, at a certain point, you know.

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Because we talked... What did you say?

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It was the twilight of your career.

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I am ambitious to get promoted. I am ambitious to go higher in the ranks.

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I'm understanding that there's lots that influence those decisions

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and there's other people, you know, around me that I'm up against.

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-Lots of people. Money.

-Money, yes.

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But I am... You know, I'm...

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-Your ambition is to really go beyond being a soloist.

-Yes, absolutely.

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My advice to everybody that's you know, beyond 30...

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is to start really planning, you know, what they're going to do

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and people just think, "Oh, I'm just

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-"going to keep going until... I don't know, until I fall off my perch or something."

-Yep.

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-Thank you very much.

-Thanks, Danny.

-Bye, Danny.

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'They've got to be'

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really prepared

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to be told,

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er, that's it.

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'I mean, he works very hard. It's not like he's out of shape.'

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He's just chunky, you know, and that doesn't go well as you get older.

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Did you hear that?

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'Personally, I think he's kind of reached the level that he will get to in this company.'

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-<

-Everything's cracking.

-Everything's cracking. Huh.

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Well, it cracks at the beginning.

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But the dream never goes away, you know, so...and I kind of like that.

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'If I stay in the company and do walk-on roles, it's going to destroy me.

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'It's how everybody else looks at you and what do I do this for?'

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Why do I go through the pain? Is it worth it?

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'At the age of 36, people think you're a complete loser.'

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And one, two, three, four, five, six, turn! Nice.

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The dancers' next chance to win a significant role

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is in the upcoming production of Rudolf Nureyev's Romeo and Juliet.

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A huge cast is required.

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But the ballet staff are struggling, as there are not enough male dancers in the company.

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Everyone's going to do quadruple roles.

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The company was extended.

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Rudolf insisted that the company was bigger for Romeo and Juliet.

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Hence the fact it was 77 dancers.

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-That's why we have the problems all the time.

-With the boys.

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Because there's just not enough boys in the company to do it.

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-I'm talking about 20 something less.

-Less.

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At the moment, thinking about doing it again, everyone's going to do quadruple roles again.

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With the money from the Arts Council via the Government,

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it's not enough money to be able to employ enough dancers to be able to do our big productions.

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It's an opportunity for us to take a slight risk

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but it's a risk we have to take because we are undermanned.

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Yeah, but I don't think we can count it as a risk because something as big as Romeo

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is going to have to be people with talent that we think we can push

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a little bit further.

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We should know by the time we've cast them that they're going to be good enough to go on to do the roles

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and so in a way it is a bit of a risk, but the boys have to be in top condition

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otherwise this will be their undoing.

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It's the day of casting for Romeo and Juliet.

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The ballet staff are fighting to stretch the small pool of dancers

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across the demanding three-week tour.

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Every dancer must be considered for any role.

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-Rae.

-Mm-hm.

-Tagu.

-Mm-hm.

-Nakamura.

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Drummond.

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Casting is so important to the dancers, you know, it's their...

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'it's life and death sometimes.'

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Oh, my Dod.

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-Westwell?

-No, not Westwell?

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I think Max is first Romeo.

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-He's never done a leading role.

-No.

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'As a first artist when the casting goes up you, you expect to be kind of first cast for big group numbers'

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but anything more than that is a bit of a bonus.

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Fifth cast Romeo...

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and a whole load of other stuff.

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Max doing Romeo is such a great opportunity for him because he's got to that point now in his career.

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It's time to push Max to the limit, really

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'because this is the biggest thing he's ever done.'

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Realistically this is the last chance that I'll have of do Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet.

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'If I'm not down to do Tybalt then it's game over for me. It's literally I've got to go. I've got to leave.

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'I've got to wake up and realise that the dream is over.'

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It's good news.

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Although Daniel and Max have been give the major leads of Tybalt and Romeo,

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-Max has to learn another five more roles.

-You're learning every role.

-If it breathes and it's a man

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then I need to know it.

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I've had a lot of work before but I've never had this much.

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MUSIC: "Romeo And Juliet: No 13, Dance Of The Knights" by Prokofiev

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The production of Romeo and Juliet is being re-staged by Patricia Ruanne and Frederic Jahn,

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who both worked with the world-famous dancer Rudolf Nureyev throughout his career.

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'We basically have been given this kind of

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'responsibility, because both Ric and myself were in the original cast.

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'I created the role of Juliet

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'and Ric created the role of Tybalt. It is for us'

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to try to pass this on to this generation.

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It's a challenge and it's also very touching

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in a way because you think...

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'you really feel that you're bringing something back home to where it belongs.'

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Back just a bit, sweetheart, thanks.

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Just so we've got a bit more space between your frocks.

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Nureyev created most of the original work of Romeo and Juliet

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in the same English National Ballet studio 34 years ago.

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'It's quite a responsibility actually

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'because you have to reintroduce Rudolf the man

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'to this generation of young dancers.'

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'I'd come off a guest touring slot and bought myself a video camera.

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'It was one of the first brands that ever came out.'

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And I set this camera up right in the corner of the room here

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at the studios and just started filming.

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'Nureyev was a megastar, when stars were really stars.

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'He was the king of dance. And this is just gold dust, this film, now,

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'seeing the company 35 years ago.

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'Nothing has changed. This same atmosphere. There's a smell about a place.

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'Rudolf's presence is still there.

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'You can feel it.'

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In Romeo and Juliet, Nureyev revolutionised male dancing -

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-giving the best roles to the boys.

-'Suddenly you had a ballet where every act,'

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what you see most of is fellas doing their stuff.

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'He really did put male dancers on the map as people who had their own choreography created for them.

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'As opposed to'

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the old tradition, which was that the males were there just to make the ballerina look beautiful.

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Nureyev created the role of Romeo for himself, the most technical in the ballet.

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'Well, basically this is the biggest role I've ever got'

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and this was always the dream to do this one.

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'So I want to do it as well as possible and I've got a month to get it down.'

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So I haven't got a lunch break all week.

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'For anybody who is tackling a principal role for the first time it's a huge thing to take on.

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'Not just his technique but also his acting ability.

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'His partnering skills.'

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His stamina, that's for sure.

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'Max must be aware that he's carrying something that's really quite special.

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'Not to mention following in the footsteps of one of the greatest dancers ever.'

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Then she comes down again.

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Arabesque. Almost.

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'That was first rehearsal.'

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I've just got to retain it all.

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'I've now got to go upstairs and do Romeo and Benvolio jumping about at the beginning of Act Two

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'I think it is.

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'If it moves and it's male, I've got to learn it basically.'

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After four hours, Max is still learning Romeo and another major role at the same time.

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One, two, three, four. Then step...

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It's hard to get one, let alone both. I haven't even got one yet.

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The ballet staff have four other Romeos to train as well.

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To be honest with you...God knows.

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'A nightmare...'

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if I'm being honest. Just because it was very quick and I had to watch two places.

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But it's fine. It's always like that and we'll sort it out from there.

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But it's a lot.

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Daniel also has a busy schedule.

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As well as rehearsing Tybalt, his spare time is spent helping with the dancers' welfare.

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How to get money!

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He is one of the members of the dancers' committee who voice concerns to the management.

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'The dancers are always going to be pushing and fighting for as much as they can get because they are'

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in general for a short career that finishes on average at the age of 35,

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we're on a very low salary.

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Dancers at English National Ballet start on a salary of £23,000 a year.

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Only the principals can earn over £60,000.

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'At the moment there is a dispute as to what our pay increase will be from last April, so we've been told'

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1% and we've been told

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'that they can't really budge.'

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The pay dispute remains unresolved.

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So I've come in for a meeting.

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But today, management have called the committee in

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on a separate fundraising initiative called Sponsor a Dancer.

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It's just finding new and unusual ways of trying to get people investing in the company

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and I think, you know, you are our biggest asset

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and people give to people so it's really important

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that we make the most of you as an asset. I realise that it could be quite contentious.

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Because obviously the money doesn't go directly to the dancer.

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Is it like Sponsor a Dog where you get a newsletter?

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WOMEN CHUCKLE

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It's only fair that if you're attracting sponsorship and it's going into the pot, I should get paid.

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And the company might be benefiting by £20,000 and it costs the company £50 to have that.

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-You know...

-Please remember that the company isn't benefiting

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-from £20,000. We're all benefiting from £20,000.

-It is the company.

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-It's not we. We're on the same salary. We don't...

-You always get paid the same.

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We did get a very low pay offer this week.

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I don't think you realise what sort of financial situation we're in.

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-If we don't raise...

-That's because we never, ever, see the figures.

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Well, OK, we can talk about that another time.

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I'm...

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Magic. Show us the figures and then we'll understand.

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I think that's fine. I don't see why we couldn't show you the figures,

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but I think it's important to know this £20,000 is going into the general pot that pays your wages.

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English National Ballet is facing financial uncertainty.

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Currently their £12 million annual budget keeps 200 staff employed.

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But since the new coalition government came to power,

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there is the threat that the £6.8 million subsidy might be cut.

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Managing director Craig Hassall is meeting management to discuss the latest speculation

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and what they should share with the company.

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The only information I have now is what you two have got from the Arts Council briefing.

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There is likely to be a cut in the following year.

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A one-year cut in the '11/'12 financial year.

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So even though it's not definitive, the fact that they're suggesting that 10% might be the amount,

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that's enough information to pass on to the company.

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That's nearly £700,000 a year that we have to find.

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I want to try and impress upon people that we're talking of a substantially different model of operation.

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We don't know what that is yet but it won't be like we are today.

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Something about restructure and redundancy. I just...

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I don't want to spook you all but I think I need to say we have to consider all ways...

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I think if you're going to use words like that, it's flexible working.

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It's, you know, reduced hours or...

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Because if we don't have something, something a bit radical,

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we just can't keep putting big story ballets on stage and touring the country.

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-It's not enough.

-It's not enough. It's not enough for the future of the company.

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With finances tight, it's essential that the current production of Romeo and Juliet runs smoothly.

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But by its very nature,

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the production is unpredictable.

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DANIEL: 'It's quite a dangerous ballet because we have lots of props.

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'We've got the acrobats, the jugglers, the flags.

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'And then with the sword fights there are boys that slash at everything.

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'So as soon as you whip it to the side, someone gets whacked in the head.'

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This is the first rehearsal of Tybalt and Mercutio fight.

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It's going quick.

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We're short of boys so we're being very careful with them,

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we're trying to be but we've got to get the steps learnt in a very short period of time.

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'The weaponry in this production is about as real as it gets.

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'These are the types of blades and swords that you use

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'to nick your opponent so that eventually they bleed to death.

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'It is pretty gory.'

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'They get very excited with their...with their movements'

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and they put too much into it, that's when things go wrong. They have to be really so controlled.

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-ALL:

-Oooh!

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-Are you all right? Are you all right?

-Ouch.

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Are you all right?

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PATRICIA: This brings back memories.

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Esteban, are you cut?

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Yeah, good. Thank you.

0:22:190:22:21

Are you all right? It's OK.

0:22:240:22:27

Worse. Worse.

0:22:280:22:30

It's bleeding now.

0:22:390:22:42

It's all this fight with a sword.

0:22:420:22:44

And with knife.

0:22:440:22:46

As I came to stab him, he caught the blade instead of my hand.

0:22:460:22:51

It would have gone through

0:22:510:22:52

but I stopped and it went... And I heard it...

0:22:520:22:57

We'll put this on and then put that on. Sorry, mate.

0:22:570:23:01

'Already this week we have three guys off.

0:23:010:23:04

'One with a head injury'

0:23:040:23:06

from elbow hitting his head. We've got sword-fight injuries.

0:23:060:23:09

We've got stress injuries already and we haven't even finished Act One yet.

0:23:090:23:13

May I have your attention, please? You know we're a big organisation. We have a lot of people employed

0:23:160:23:23

and one thing that's going to happen for certain is that there are going to be cuts to the arts budget.

0:23:230:23:28

Now what that means in real terms is we have to reduce the company's size

0:23:280:23:32

somehow because I don't think we can increase income by about £600,000.

0:23:320:23:38

That's an awful lot of money.

0:23:380:23:40

So for a company like us and we spend about £12 or £13 million a year,

0:23:400:23:46

£600,000 is a lot of money.

0:23:460:23:49

Our first part of the message today is this is not about us doing anything wrong.

0:23:490:23:53

We haven't failed in any way at all. You know, our reviews are fantastic,

0:23:530:23:57

but I suspect the cuts that are going to be foisted upon us

0:23:570:24:02

for the following three years are going to be more than 10%,

0:24:020:24:06

and I don't know yet how we're going to effect that scary amount of cut

0:24:060:24:10

but it's going to have to impact on what we do as an organisation.

0:24:100:24:12

I think everyone was a bit shocked really.

0:24:160:24:19

Although it's hard to gauge.

0:24:190:24:23

I think he said everything we needed him to say

0:24:230:24:26

and it's not about ENB, it's about the environment,

0:24:260:24:31

so that's the message which I think came across which is good.

0:24:310:24:34

I think it's been inevitable

0:24:360:24:39

that...cuts are coming.

0:24:390:24:43

It's just hard to hear it.

0:24:430:24:45

You know, despite the company having a dark cloud over it,

0:24:450:24:50

we as a committee believe that we should fight for whatever we can get

0:24:500:24:55

and that means pursuing.

0:24:550:24:57

We're not greedy.

0:24:570:24:59

Nobody, it's way below RPI and it is very reasonable what the dancers are asking for but...

0:24:590:25:07

you know, if big cuts are coming, that's going to change everything.

0:25:070:25:13

Pull a few strings?

0:25:130:25:15

It's very interesting.

0:25:160:25:19

It's still speculation at this stage.

0:25:210:25:24

Nobody's saying anything for certain.

0:25:240:25:27

What... I mean, the pay increase that we're doing, that we're going for what...

0:25:270:25:33

I don't think we should be worrying about that.

0:25:330:25:36

I don't think we'll get a pay increase at all.

0:25:360:25:38

I think we should be worrying about whether the pay is going to go down.

0:25:380:25:41

Or whether they're going to cut dancers.

0:25:410:25:43

Because really, logically, dancers are the biggest thing that they have to pay for,

0:25:430:25:49

so cutting our salaries would save a lot of money.

0:25:490:25:53

We're not here because we want to make money or that,

0:25:530:25:57

it's because we love being here and we love dancing.

0:25:570:26:00

As long as we can make it work, I think the dancers would do anything to help that.

0:26:000:26:06

We're not going to stand in the way of it and if there is a problem then we need to...

0:26:060:26:10

address it, all together, as a company.

0:26:100:26:12

You know, I think we're in a position now where we've got to justify our existence a bit more.

0:26:120:26:18

That's how I feel.

0:26:180:26:21

None of us wants to see the company fall apart. None of us.

0:26:210:26:26

With two weeks left before the first performance, rehearsals have intensified as the dancers learn

0:26:290:26:35

their own roles and fill in for the boys out through injury.

0:26:350:26:40

That's a very bad line you gave her on the lift. Other leg, Sarah.

0:26:400:26:46

You're partnering her from behind. Where's the interest?

0:26:460:26:52

I'm sorry, I misunderstood the correction.

0:26:520:26:54

Well, that's about the 25th correction that's been misunderstood this week.

0:26:540:26:59

We'll try it again.

0:26:590:27:00

The remaining boys are working harder than ever to finish off the production.

0:27:000:27:04

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. One...

0:27:040:27:11

-That's what we're looking for.

-Are you all right?

-Yeah.

-Are you all right, Junor?

0:27:140:27:18

-Went on the wrist.

-Are you all right?

0:27:180:27:20

-Very painful.

-Junor, are you OK?

0:27:200:27:26

Want me to get some ice?

0:27:260:27:28

What's happened?

0:27:310:27:33

He's really gone over on the hand during the acrobats.

0:27:330:27:38

I knew those bloody acrobats would get them.

0:27:400:27:43

It's swelling a bit, I'm afraid.

0:27:430:27:45

The pain is coming from here to there and it's gone under...here.

0:27:490:27:57

Because you had your weight through it and you know you've had that

0:27:570:28:00

into that position there, we will have to check it out.

0:28:000:28:03

You poor thing.

0:28:030:28:05

It's part of being a dancer in the company.

0:28:100:28:12

If you go through your entire career without an injury, you're unique.

0:28:120:28:16

I didn't see it happen at all. I was looking at some casting.

0:28:160:28:20

'It's on our shoulders to tell them that it's happened to us all

0:28:240:28:27

'and that's the way it goes, unfortunately you'll get injured.'

0:28:270:28:31

It was Junor's fault that he got injured,

0:28:310:28:34

because he didn't listen to what Ric was saying.

0:28:340:28:37

Instead of going out of the circle he went into the circle

0:28:370:28:40

and Grant rolled on his hand.

0:28:400:28:42

'We feel for them, yes, and we think "Oh, what a shame," but we don't have time to hang about for them.'

0:28:440:28:52

Barry, we'll just test the waters here.

0:28:520:28:54

'You know, we are short. Very, very short.'

0:28:540:29:00

It's not the place to be at the moment, the staff room.

0:29:000:29:03

It's a little bit....

0:29:030:29:05

-Each day you come in and think who's injured today?

-There's a big list.

0:29:050:29:09

A big cross against their name.

0:29:090:29:11

So it's getting a bit desperate.

0:29:110:29:14

Not a good time.

0:29:150:29:17

So I watched a little bit yesterday, I mean, some of those boys don't even know this step yet.

0:29:270:29:34

I mean, I don't understand why they're so slow.

0:29:340:29:37

We've actually got a cast, a certain cast which could be ready

0:29:370:29:41

but because we have to mix them through the generosity of your casting...

0:29:410:29:46

You know, because everybody gets a go here.

0:29:460:29:49

It's the mixtures of casts, which create the problem.

0:29:490:29:52

The touching different bodies. We've got all sorts of elements like that which cause problems.

0:29:520:29:57

I mean, for example, Max yesterday was Romeo.

0:29:570:30:00

They day before he'd been Benvolio, so in the pas de trois in Act Two

0:30:000:30:04

he's meeting himself coming back the whole time.

0:30:040:30:07

He's dancing, he's partnering himself in reverse.

0:30:070:30:11

-Yes.

-And understandably there are moments when he looks like...

0:30:110:30:15

Yeah. Who am I?

0:30:150:30:17

He doesn't know what his own name is any more.

0:30:170:30:19

I'll be honest, my biggest fear at the moment

0:30:190:30:23

-is the dramatic content, which most of the time is just not there.

-Yeah.

0:30:230:30:28

I mean, there's more liveliness in the Top Shop manikins coming up Kensington High Street...

0:30:280:30:33

-Oh, really? OK.

-And somehow we've got to get through to them they have to start practising that now,

0:30:330:30:38

because otherwise the balance will go.

0:30:380:30:40

There's only one week left.

0:30:400:30:42

Now we can start to do bad cop and get them scared.

0:30:420:30:44

-Yeah. OK?

-Yeah, no problem.

0:30:440:30:46

They're not on the same legs, I'm afraid, these boys.

0:30:530:30:56

CLAP OF HANDS

0:30:560:30:58

What did I just say?

0:30:580:31:00

What did I just say you do on this step?

0:31:000:31:03

The step I just stood up and demonstrated for you - what did I say?

0:31:040:31:08

You said no pause that time...

0:31:080:31:11

Oh, God. This is terrifying.

0:31:110:31:14

'The feeling at the moment - and we're all a little frustrated with the company -

0:31:160:31:20

'they don't seem to get it, that if you don't show us what you're doing now,'

0:31:200:31:24

we can't rely on them to do it on stage.

0:31:240:31:27

And we're still getting quite a negative response from most of them.

0:31:270:31:31

Start again - if you want to do that we can take you out of this and we can...

0:31:310:31:35

Please take me out. That's fine.

0:31:350:31:37

If that's the way you want to behave...

0:31:370:31:39

THEY SHOUT OVER EACH OTHER

0:31:390:31:42

If you would get the corrections right that you're being given, then...

0:31:420:31:47

Well, you're not doing it right.

0:31:470:31:49

Go and... It doesn't matter about you - go and leave the room. Thank you.

0:31:490:31:54

Jane, who have we got else to put in?

0:31:560:31:58

Can I be allowed to say something to all of you?

0:31:580:32:00

When you are given a piece of information, a correction, that's all it is.

0:32:000:32:06

It's not something that's against you.

0:32:060:32:08

It's something to make your lives easier when you get on stage.

0:32:080:32:12

A correction is not a criticism, and you confuse the two.

0:32:120:32:16

If we're spoken to like children, and the tone is really not nice...

0:32:160:32:20

-We're all adults, we all should be spoken to...

-OK, that's a valid point.

0:32:200:32:23

Right, I'll throw the ball back in your court - when we say, "Have you understood?"

0:32:230:32:27

and not one person bothers even to look at us or respond, you are treating us badly equally.

0:32:270:32:34

You're not a company that feeds back.

0:32:340:32:38

This flag dance is a show-stopper, it's absolutely amazing.

0:32:380:32:41

But while there's one loose canon in there, they'll see it.

0:32:410:32:45

The public aren't stupid.

0:32:450:32:47

-<

-Are you all right?

-I don't want to talk now.

0:32:500:32:55

Van Le Ngoc soon rejoins the other dancers in the next rehearsal.

0:32:550:32:59

What do you want to know?

0:33:010:33:03

We demonstrated the step to him.

0:33:030:33:05

He then behaved like a five-year-old child, and did it

0:33:050:33:10

under protest, so I asked him why he was doing it like that.

0:33:100:33:14

You know, you can't go on stage being like a five-year-old,

0:33:150:33:18

and then they say they're being treated like children

0:33:180:33:21

when they behave like children. What more can you say?

0:33:210:33:23

Pat is still battling to rehearse five separate casts,

0:33:250:33:28

and Max is the least experienced of the Romeos performing.

0:33:280:33:32

'This will be the last rehearsal that Max will have with the entire company.'

0:33:320:33:36

Just getting to know how it's going to feel and where he's going to be,

0:33:360:33:41

the places where he feels absolutely exhausted...

0:33:410:33:44

'Stamina is part of the training.

0:33:440:33:46

'It's like, run that extra bit.'

0:33:460:33:48

-How are you doing?

-Good.

0:33:500:33:53

-Raring to go?

-Yes.

-Good.

0:33:530:33:55

I don't want to stop you.

0:33:550:33:58

If you want to stop, just stop,

0:33:580:34:00

but even if I see things or something doesn't go right,

0:34:000:34:06

-I'd rather you pushed on to see how you'll get out of it.

-OK.

0:34:060:34:10

Max and his partner, Sarah McIlroy, who plays Juliet, have never danced the whole ballet without stopping.

0:34:110:34:18

'This is putting it all together, and it's working out a way to pace it. Because there's so much of it,'

0:34:180:34:23

you can't waste your energy and, like, throw yourself about.

0:34:230:34:27

'The worst point, I think, for all the Romeos is the beginning of the balcony'

0:34:330:34:38

pas de deux, when he first begins to partner Juliet as opposed to dancing for joy.

0:34:380:34:43

'There's this really bad moment when they are practically legless.

0:34:500:34:56

'because they're so tired.

0:34:560:34:58

'And you think, "Why don't we just bring the curtain down

0:35:070:35:10

'"and ask the audience to give us a break and we'll start from the beginning"?'

0:35:100:35:14

Thanks, Chris. Thanks, Chris, just hang on a sec.

0:35:190:35:22

Shame. That's exactly when they need to push on.

0:35:220:35:25

All right, pick it up while you're still out of breath, cos that's what it's going to be like, guys.

0:35:330:35:37

Sorry to be unsympathetic, yeah? Push through.

0:35:370:35:40

Second move.

0:35:400:35:42

'There is this scary moment for the Romeos themselves,

0:35:450:35:48

'because it's like all your blood is concentrated around what's really essential,

0:35:480:35:52

'which is your heart and lungs, and it doesn't seem to get to the extremities.'

0:35:520:35:56

Continue, continue.

0:35:560:35:58

'And it's a horrible, horrible feeling.

0:36:010:36:04

'You suspect that they might have a heart attack at that moment.'

0:36:040:36:07

INAUDIBLE

0:36:070:36:10

APPLAUSE

0:36:160:36:19

OK, OK. It's coming. The beginning's not too bad at all.

0:36:290:36:32

Sarah, you need to go from the first move again now, while you're tired,

0:36:320:36:37

through to the end, because it's the end that it gets ropey.

0:36:370:36:41

Because you've lost it by then.

0:36:410:36:43

And this is now when it's most valuable, when you're knackered...

0:36:430:36:47

-Yeah.

-..to get your strength and find out what you have to do.

0:36:470:36:50

It's a ball-breaker. It's a ball-breaker.

0:36:500:36:53

But this is how you get through - it's doing it again now.

0:36:530:36:56

So, Max, put on a double jock strap and we'll go from the first move.

0:36:560:37:01

Just don't panic.

0:37:090:37:11

-Accept the tiredness and use it.

-Yeah.

0:37:110:37:13

It's harder when there's pas de deux because there's two of you that are tired.

0:37:170:37:22

So in a way, you're fighting each other.

0:37:220:37:24

It's harder for the boy than the girl,

0:37:240:37:26

I don't know why I'm complaining! Ha-ha-ha!

0:37:260:37:28

Everything goes a bit hazy, and you're really tight.

0:37:340:37:38

You're like, you're running into just, like, a wall.

0:37:380:37:41

But that's the beginning! There's a lot more to go!

0:37:420:37:46

-It's good that you did it over again, but try and push through now.

-Yeah.

0:37:510:37:55

Yeah? Even if you can't lift her, just get through it - for stamina.

0:37:550:37:59

And all of a sudden you'll find where your second wind comes from.

0:37:590:38:02

After months of negotiations regarding the dancers' annual pay increase,

0:38:150:38:19

both dancers and management meet with Equity to make their final decision.

0:38:190:38:24

Just to give you a context, what we're talking about, the climate,

0:38:240:38:27

which is why, I'm not being stingy in not giving you more than 1%.

0:38:270:38:32

Even giving 1% was really, really hard,

0:38:320:38:35

trying to also then accommodate £600,000 in cuts across the organisation.

0:38:350:38:41

I mean, the difficulty we have, of course, is dancers having to live.

0:38:410:38:44

Now, with inflation at 4.7%,

0:38:440:38:47

albeit it's going down, it's still,

0:38:470:38:50

you know, we've still got 1% against...

0:38:500:38:53

-So dancers' salaries are going to be eroded.

-Yes...

0:38:530:38:56

A lot of arts companies have either had a freeze or they've cut staff,

0:38:560:39:01

so we haven't yet done that.

0:39:010:39:02

There's no magic solution to that problem, so we've agreed 1%.

0:39:020:39:07

So we've taken off the additional 1%.

0:39:070:39:11

-The dancers decided they'd rather do that.

-We originally asked for 2%, I think.

0:39:110:39:16

-So we'll accept 1%.

-OK.

-Yeah? So that's sorted.

0:39:160:39:19

So that's done, all right.

0:39:190:39:21

The biggest concern I've got really is the following three years,

0:39:210:39:25

-as it's already 10% less next year, and they're talking about between 25-40% less.

-On top of the 10?

0:39:250:39:32

-On top of the 10.

-OK.

0:39:320:39:35

Which is devastating.

0:39:350:39:36

It's going to wreck things that are going well,

0:39:360:39:40

and wrecking the arts is of no economic benefit.

0:39:400:39:45

Although the committee got a majority of dancers to agree on the 1%,

0:39:460:39:50

not everyone on the board is happy with the decision.

0:39:500:39:53

I'm just one of many, and I go with the majority, and that's fine, yeah.

0:39:530:39:58

I think it's better to have them onside.

0:39:580:40:01

But it doesn't change anything.

0:40:010:40:03

The tricky situation is that we're negotiating by hypothesising,

0:40:030:40:07

and that lead to us going, "OK, whatever you say".

0:40:070:40:11

I don't think we said, "OK, whatever you say", but that's not...

0:40:120:40:15

Yeah, but we did now! They offered 1% and we accepted.

0:40:150:40:19

Yeah, because that was the sensible thing to do, but not by saying,

0:40:190:40:22

"We'll just do whatever you want", I don't think that's what we said.

0:40:220:40:26

No, but that's what we're doing.

0:40:260:40:29

-I've got to go bust my body.

-All right, see you later.

0:40:290:40:32

You know, I've seen a lot of changes over the years.

0:40:320:40:35

You're saying, "I'm sure there's going to be massive cuts", and if you're right, then you're right.

0:40:350:40:40

If you were wrong, and if there were no cuts,

0:40:400:40:43

then we've just taken a 4% cut for no reason.

0:40:430:40:47

-Well, I don't think that's going to happen.

-Exactly. And I don't know.

0:40:490:40:53

See you later.

0:40:530:40:54

After a month of rehearsals, the dancers go on tour with Romeo And Juliet.

0:41:040:41:09

Over the next three weeks, the company will perform 20 shows in venues across the United Kingdom.

0:41:090:41:16

Max's debut as Romeo is in Southampton.

0:41:160:41:19

The cast have just one dress run left before their performance.

0:41:250:41:29

But the gruelling rehearsal schedule is now taking its toll.

0:41:340:41:38

Oh, my God.

0:41:380:41:41

Mentally, too, it's not good,

0:41:410:41:44

because we feel that we don't have enough time to rest.

0:41:440:41:49

We rehearse every day.

0:41:490:41:52

But...that's life.

0:41:520:41:55

Injuries mean ballet staff are struggling to put together a fit enough cast.

0:41:580:42:03

Hey, are you all right?

0:42:040:42:06

-Chang is not going to be on.

-Chang?

0:42:060:42:08

Right. OK...

0:42:080:42:11

Chang is playing Mercutio - a major role in the ballet.

0:42:130:42:17

Just curl forwards and tell me when the pain kicks in.

0:42:170:42:20

-No, not there.

-It's there already?

-Yeah.

-OK.

0:42:200:42:23

You've got acute spasm there.

0:42:230:42:25

'He won't be able to do the rehearsal,'

0:42:250:42:27

which means if he doesn't do the rehearsal, he can't do the show.

0:42:270:42:30

So I've swapped it round so Juan's now got three Mercutios in a row.

0:42:300:42:34

If you've got 24 men in a company,

0:42:340:42:38

and six, seven are off,

0:42:380:42:40

that's a third of the company.

0:42:400:42:42

So, erm...

0:42:420:42:44

you know, er, it will have implications for casting over the next couple of days.

0:42:440:42:51

Jane came up to the dressing room to tell me that I have to do Mercutio now.

0:42:510:42:56

She asked me to do it.

0:42:560:42:58

Now I have to do it every day.

0:42:580:43:01

And I don't know if I'm going to be able to do it! Ha-ha!

0:43:010:43:04

Because it's really hard!

0:43:040:43:07

The makeshift cast finally arrive on stage to get everything in place for the big night.

0:43:070:43:13

For Max, it's his last chance to perfect the role of Romeo.

0:43:130:43:17

Pace yourself.

0:43:190:43:21

Basically, today is just trying to make it work in this theatre and space here.

0:43:240:43:29

Trying to do as much as we can, but without killing ourselves.

0:43:350:43:39

Max, it's his first Romeo.

0:43:440:43:46

To be honest, he went a little bit too crazy.

0:43:460:43:49

The sword fights didn't go very well.

0:43:490:43:51

He got my finger, and I've got a really painful shoulder.

0:43:510:43:55

'Max did say afterwards he's going to calm it down for tomorrow,'

0:43:590:44:02

but I don't think so, because once the audience are in, it's the show.

0:44:020:44:06

I imagine it will probably be twice as wild!

0:44:060:44:09

Be a bit dangerous.

0:44:090:44:11

Praying to the gods of ballet at the moment to let it just go back to normal again.

0:44:140:44:18

-Put your thumb in it.

-You want me to?

-Just hold it, like, find the spot...

0:44:220:44:28

Yeah, it's really tight up here.

0:44:280:44:31

It's because that's the arm I'm fighting with, so it's gone into spasm.

0:44:310:44:36

You did a full rehearsal yesterday, so the legs are a bit...?

0:44:360:44:41

I get to a point, and then it kind of doesn't get any worse.

0:44:410:44:44

Yeah. Good. And fluid and that?

0:44:440:44:46

You're taking...? You need to drink...

0:44:460:44:47

-Yeah, good, all right.

-See you later.

-Thank you.

0:44:470:44:50

He's exhausted because he did every scene yesterday,

0:44:500:44:54

just to get it over and done with, and now his legs are really,

0:44:540:44:58

you know, just too tight at the moment,

0:44:580:45:00

and he's not taken enough liquid on.

0:45:000:45:01

'So he's finding it quite difficult at the moment.'

0:45:030:45:06

Although Max has given his all, he still has more to learn,

0:45:070:45:10

as he meets the staff to hear his final set of notes.

0:45:100:45:13

There's something I thought in the wheel of fortune...

0:45:130:45:16

-I started in the wrong place.

-Yeah, you started in the wrong place.

0:45:160:45:20

You were fine. You went, "blood", then you did another thing with him

0:45:200:45:25

-that I think was... you don't need to do.

-Yeah, too much.

0:45:250:45:28

And stay in the light with Loretta.

0:45:280:45:31

Basically, that's all I've got.

0:45:310:45:33

-Erm...

-It feels like it's kind of coming together.

-Yeah.

0:45:350:45:37

I feel you need to know that you elaborate on the positions.

0:45:370:45:42

It was a little bit fast.

0:45:420:45:44

Erm... All the sittings on the floor,

0:45:440:45:47

you need to have a whole dialogue going.

0:45:470:45:51

Erm, in the second act, when you're sitting there,

0:45:510:45:54

imagine your cheek bones are illuminated.

0:45:540:45:57

Max has over 30 corrections to address, and no rehearsal time left before tomorrow's performance.

0:45:590:46:07

Oh, God. I'm not going to finish this.

0:46:090:46:12

How do you take it all in?

0:46:120:46:15

You kind of need a pen and paper,

0:46:150:46:16

but you're not allowed a pen and paper on stage, so it's not really worth writing it down.

0:46:160:46:22

It's got to be in here, and if it's not in there, then it's just not going to happen.

0:46:220:46:26

It's 11:30 at night, and Daniel is back in his digs,

0:46:270:46:31

accompanied by his wife Kay, who is also in the cast of Romeo.

0:46:310:46:35

It's their first chance to eat a proper meal.

0:46:370:46:41

How are you feeling?

0:46:410:46:42

Well, I'm shattered.

0:46:420:46:44

But my challenge was to get back from the knee injury, and now I'm back and I'm doing roles,

0:46:460:46:51

I don't want to think about stopping.

0:46:530:46:56

I want you to stop when you feel comfortable stopping.

0:46:560:46:59

I want you to be happy when you stop.

0:46:590:47:04

You know, when the time comes and I do stop, I mean,

0:47:040:47:08

I've been preparing myself mentally since I got into the company for the time that I would stop dancing.

0:47:080:47:14

I mean, it's just, you have to - it's terrifying but it's just the way it is.

0:47:140:47:19

Whatever profession I go into next,

0:47:190:47:21

I'm going to have to work just as hard to get the respect.

0:47:210:47:25

I will never be satisfied just working at the lowest of the...

0:47:250:47:29

You know, and just being in the corps de ballet of an office.

0:47:290:47:32

I just hope I've got enough in the body for tomorrow, because we did a lot yesterday,

0:47:360:47:41

and now we've run it, I'm going to wake up tomorrow feeling like I've been hit by a train.

0:47:410:47:46

I'm not going to sit here and go over a million things,

0:47:480:47:51

otherwise I'll never sleep, and you can go over and over and over it forever,

0:47:510:47:56

and it'll just be a nightmare.

0:47:560:47:57

It's Max's debut performance,

0:48:060:48:08

and there's a full cast warming up on stage.

0:48:080:48:10

Oh, my God.

0:48:100:48:12

-Is it you today?

-Yeah.

0:48:120:48:15

I thought I'd give it a go(!)

0:48:150:48:17

Thought you might as well!

0:48:170:48:18

My only bit of advice is to you -

0:48:180:48:20

don't shoot yourself in the foot straightaway.

0:48:200:48:23

Just establish your character,

0:48:230:48:26

take your time. All you've got to save it for is the balcony.

0:48:260:48:30

Don't go over the top in the beginning.

0:48:300:48:34

The problems we had today is the nerves - he's out to impress.

0:48:340:48:37

He's out to impress us, he's out to impress his colleagues.

0:48:370:48:40

So the problem will be that he could do too much in the first entrance

0:48:400:48:43

and before he even gets to the balcony -

0:48:430:48:45

which is the heart attack pas de deux - and he'll have nothing left.

0:48:450:48:49

My hands are sweating like crazy right now,

0:48:520:48:55

and my first entrance, I come on with all the swords, and I'm just very...

0:48:550:48:59

Once I don't drop those swords, then I'll be a little bit more relaxed.

0:48:590:49:04

Get it into, every time you turn your back, get it into the...

0:49:080:49:11

-HE BREATHES DEEPLY

-Get it into your legs.

0:49:110:49:13

Yeah. I'm ready, I'm just going to go for it.

0:49:140:49:17

It's... Ha, you can hear them!

0:49:180:49:20

In Max's position, I mean, because this is his first major role, he's definitely on probation,

0:49:250:49:32

and if he doesn't get the steps right and he doesn't get the character right,

0:49:320:49:37

then it will affect his future, totally, with this company,

0:49:370:49:40

because he won't be considered with other roles.

0:49:400:49:42

I mean, you're very alone. It's like all about you.

0:50:060:50:08

You have to kind of keep a sense of calm, and like, less is more.

0:50:080:50:12

Corps de ballet, doing a principal role. It's a big deal.

0:50:190:50:23

There's no way of beating around it, really, it is, and I want to do it as well as I possibly can.

0:50:230:50:28

I've always wanted to do this role.

0:50:290:50:32

I now have half a second where I've stopped and this is the first time in the show.

0:50:400:50:44

I have to keep myself moving - like, if I sit down, that is it.

0:50:460:50:49

Max's marathon is just beginning.

0:50:510:50:54

He's going to be dancing the balcony scene, with Sarah, non-stop for six minutes -

0:50:540:50:58

for them, the most technically challenging part of the ballet.

0:50:580:51:02

This is the scene they struggled to complete in rehearsals.

0:51:050:51:09

You have to kind of breathe and think down into the floor,

0:51:090:51:12

and everything pulls up so much with adrenalin, you get rigid.

0:51:120:51:16

It's...like drowning.

0:51:160:51:18

I'll just go for it 100%, and when I die on the bed will be probably when I die properly.

0:51:200:51:24

APPLAUSE

0:51:500:51:53

I don't want to speak too soon, but...that was nice.

0:52:020:52:05

I couldn't have asked for... anything more than that.

0:52:050:52:08

Act 2.

0:52:120:52:14

This is the biggest moment.

0:52:140:52:16

After three months of speculation, news finally arrives from the Arts Council

0:52:340:52:38

confirming the level of funding cuts to English National Ballet.

0:52:380:52:43

Craig sends an e-mail to the company announcing the final figure.

0:52:430:52:48

We thought we'd be cut by about 10%.

0:52:480:52:50

We're only being cut by 7%, but the problem is, it's still bad.

0:52:500:52:55

The Government will tell us in probably March of next year

0:52:550:52:58

how we're going to be funded for the following three years,

0:52:580:53:01

and that will definitely be a greater cut.

0:53:010:53:03

So, it's going to be very difficult to work out how to keep doing what we're doing.

0:53:060:53:10

We have to at least look at restructuring, which means redundancies.

0:53:100:53:14

When you start to analyse it, you think, "Am I a sucker?"

0:53:190:53:24

And, "Have we been taken for a ride?"

0:53:240:53:27

The psychology is quite good, where you, you know,

0:53:280:53:30

it's announced that you're going to get a really big cut,

0:53:300:53:33

then you get a smaller cut, and you're so grateful.

0:53:330:53:36

We're thrilled, it's only 7%, yeah!

0:53:360:53:38

You know, so, it still affects the amount of touring we do.

0:53:380:53:44

-Four weeks on tour.

-Mmm.

0:53:440:53:46

Eventually I'm the one that has to say, "I know this is your dream, this is a dream job,

0:53:570:54:03

"but we can't afford to fulfil your dream." That's an awful thing to have to say to somebody.

0:54:030:54:09

Because it's somebody's livelihood.

0:54:090:54:12

-I didn't have to act!

-And you went, "Urgh!" I was like...

0:54:210:54:24

No, it was good.

0:54:240:54:26

Well, I can't feel my body right now.

0:54:290:54:32

I have so many more injuries from that scene.

0:54:320:54:35

Erm, we're nearly there.

0:54:410:54:43

I've got two more entrances.

0:54:430:54:45

I'm absolutely knackered.

0:54:450:54:48

I've like, I've bent my finger back so it's like throbbing.

0:54:480:54:52

Something in the bottom of my pelvis feels funny.

0:54:520:54:55

I'm absolutely on my last legs.

0:54:550:54:58

I've got blood...

0:54:580:54:59

I've got blood coming out of my tights, but I don't know...

0:54:590:55:03

-That's from throwing yourself on the floor.

-Yeah.

0:55:030:55:06

-In the fight.

-I can't take my tights off until the end, so I'm only going to know what I've done...

0:55:060:55:12

-I've got this shoulder...

-And the shoulder thing, yeah.

0:55:120:55:15

I've got to see Dominic now, because I've got...

0:55:150:55:19

I've got a massage at 5:45 in between, and then I've got to do this again, so...

0:55:190:55:24

-You're after me in the massage.

-Ha-ha-ha!

0:55:240:55:27

All right, then!

0:55:280:55:30

-So, hopefully...

-My body's... I've got to do the servants tonight.

0:55:300:55:34

Are you doing this?

0:55:340:55:37

I'm like doing...

0:55:370:55:40

The servants. It's a killer.

0:55:400:55:43

Thank you very much, Daniel.

0:56:110:56:14

-Fantastic. Excellent.

-Really good.

0:56:140:56:17

Really, really, really great.

0:56:170:56:18

Yeah? I'm proud of you.

0:56:180:56:21

Very good.

0:56:210:56:23

-Last words?

-Last words?

0:56:260:56:28

It couldn't have gone a lot better, really, for a first go.

0:56:280:56:31

I'm very happy with it.

0:56:310:56:34

So, erm, yeah, very pleased.

0:56:340:56:35

-Thanks.

-Ha-ha!

0:56:370:56:39

My pelvis feels a bit twingy down the bottom, which normally means it's slightly out of alignment.

0:56:470:56:52

It's just really tight on this side down the bottom, just like...

0:56:520:56:55

Interesting to see if this is...

0:56:550:56:59

Wow!

0:57:000:57:01

Max...you're level!

0:57:010:57:04

Are you joking?

0:57:040:57:07

See? Hypochondriac!

0:57:070:57:09

-Yeah! That is amazing.

-There's got to be something wrong!

0:57:090:57:13

Ha-ha-ha!

0:57:130:57:15

My finger's really sore.

0:57:160:57:19

Yeah! Your back is really...is moving better than it normally does!

0:57:190:57:23

Well, he's had a bit of an injury in the thoracic,

0:57:230:57:27

so he's had a bit of a spasm.

0:57:270:57:29

English National Ballet are delighted with Max's performance,

0:57:490:57:53

and he will now be considered for future leading roles.

0:57:530:57:56

Following his triumphant return to the stage as Tybalt, Daniel got a hernia in his next performance.

0:57:570:58:02

That's very painful.

0:58:040:58:07

He is unable to dance for at least six months.

0:58:070:58:10

It is the biggest money spinner that we have, it's the Nutcracker -

0:58:150:58:19

so this show has to be a huge success.

0:58:190:58:21

Here goes for... No, whoa, whoa, whoa!

0:58:210:58:23

Ballet's not finished.

0:58:230:58:25

We're finished.

0:58:250:58:27

It's a bit too late to do anything.

0:58:280:58:30

We don't know what's going to happen, and the show starts in 20 minutes.

0:58:300:58:35

I get, "It'll be OK." But it's never OK.

0:58:380:58:42

I actually don't know the steps yet.

0:58:430:58:45

You'll survive this. I don't survive bad reviews.

0:58:460:58:49

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:59:030:59:06

E-mail [email protected]

0:59:060:59:09

Exclusive behind-the-scenes series which follows English National ballet on their 60th anniversary and reveals the complexities of staging world class ballet.

We join the company as they fight to finish their most ambitious production of the year - Rudolf Nureyev's Romeo & Juliet. From tensions on stage to challenging rehearsals using real weaponry, the men are performing for their lives. The company are already undermanned so it's crucial that no dancers are injured, but it's only a matter of time before the demanding schedule takes its toll.


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