Sunday may have been the last performance of The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome for a while, but it was also a bit of a first for Birmingham Royal Ballet. For a number of years Birmingham Hippodrome have been running ‘touch tours’ and ‘audio described’ performances for theatre fans with visual impairments. As the name suggests, the tours allow them to get up on stage and into the costume stores to get a genuinely hands-on experience of props, the set and costumes. And then during the show, via a set of headphones, have elements of the performance described so as to fill in any details they may have missed.

The group gathered in the foyer before heading on to the stage, where they had a chance to get to grips with the tree, a few Nutcracker dolls and a Sugar Plum Fairy. The group then spent quite some time in one of the dressing rooms with a vast array of costumes, from Clara’s dress to King Rat’s coat to the Winds head dresses. Everyone was particularly impressed with the detail in the costumes, and in the case of King Rat’s coat – the weight (believe me it weights a ton, how anyone dances in it I have no idea). From there we returned to the foyer for a mince pie or two and a cup of coffee. But that was not quite the end of proceedings, as Jade Heusen and Laura Purkiss came to join us for an impromptu dance class(!) and chat about the show and the roles they’ve been playing this year.

We’re really pleased to have been involved in such a brilliant event, being able to give as many people as possible access, in a really meaningful way, to ballet. Please have a look at the pictures and let us know what you think. If you’d like more information about access for people with visual impairments at Birmingham Hippodrome email Liz Leck, Education and Audience Development Manager at lizleck@birminghamhippodrome.com.

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