A Black Sabbath ballet is coming to Birmingham and it might just turn out to be a genius meeting of worlds

Dancer Sofia Liñares from Black Sabbath - The Ballet
(Image credit: Perou)

The more we think about this, the more we think it might be a brilliant pairing of two seemingly different worlds; Birmingham's metal godfathers Black Sabbath and the city's Royal Ballet. Consider the drama, the darkness and bombast of Sabbath soundtracking performance art – it might just make perfect sense.

Black Sabbath - The Ballet will be performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet in September at the city's Hippodrome. It will feature eight of the band's songs reorchestrated for the for the Royal Ballet Sinfonia in a three-act performance, alongside new music inspired by the band.

The songs are a solid mix of classics alongside some mellower deeper cuts with Paranoid, Ironman, War Pigs, Black Sabbath, Solitude, Orchid, Laguna Sunrise and the mighty Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Guitars and drums will be integrated into the performance too – though not from Tony Iommi and Bill Ward. But the guitarist does approve of the forthcoming performance – very much so.

Carlos Acosta with Tony Iommi

Birmingham Royal Ballet director Carlos Acosta with Tony Iommi  (Image credit: Drew Tommons)

I’d never imagined pairing Black Sabbath with Ballet but it’s got a nice ring to it

Tony Iommi

"I’m looking forward to seeing how this all develops!" says riff lord Iommi. "Black Sabbath have always been innovators and never been predictable, and it doesn’t come any more unpredictable than this! I’d never imagined pairing Black Sabbath with Ballet but it’s got a nice ring to it! 

"I’ve met with Carlos [Acosta] several times and his enthusiasm is infectious. I performed alongside some of the dancers at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony and they had an incredible energy, so I’m happy to go along  for the ride with them and see you on the other side!"

Dancer Sofia Liñares from Black Sabbath - The Ballet

Birmingham Royal Ballet artist Sofia Liñares (Image credit: Perou)

The band’s enthusiasm for the project is a huge endorsement

Carlos Acosta

Black Sabbath - The Ballet is the second Birmingham-focussed commission from Birmingham Royal Ballet Director Carlos Acosta and it's been on his mind since he arrived in the UK city – also home to Judas Priest – back in 2020.

"Black Sabbath is probably Birmingham’s biggest export, the most famous (and infamous) cultural entity to ever emerge from the city," says Acosta. |So I was naturally drawn to the idea of a collaboration between what most people might think are the most unlikely of partners. 

"The band’s enthusiasm for the project is a huge endorsement," he adds. "They are putting their trust in us to deliver something completely new and original, and that’s quite a responsibility but one that we are beyond excited to take on. Everyone in the BRB company is thrilled to be involved and we cannot wait to share the vision for the show in more detail in the coming months.I have hand picked the creative team and will work closely with them to make a spectacular show."

It sounds like a great way to celebrate Birmingham's cultural heritage while attracting new people to both ballet and Sabbath's music. 

Lead choreographer for Black Sabbath – The Ballet is Pontus Lindberg  with Raúl Reinoso and Cassi Abranches as choreographers. Lead composer is Christopher Austin with composer / sound designer Marko Nyberg and composer Sun Keting. 

Performances will will take place at Birmingham Hippodrome on 23, 27, 28, 29 and 30 September 2023 before production heads to Plymouth and London for Autumn shows to be announced soon.

See you in the mosh, sorry, orchestra pit. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.