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Jan McNulty

News: Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sadler's Wells are joining forces for a major new development programme for classical choreographers.

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Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sadler's Wells are joining forces for a major new development programme for classical choreographers.

The scheme will support large-scale commissions by emerging choreographers as well as offer mentoring from major ballet companies.

 

Ballet Now is specifically for choreographers who have taken a classical route but have not had the opportunity to work on the largest scale. It will also work with composers and designers.

The programme is being funded by £1.1 million from Oak Foundation, with BRB looking to match fund the same amount again.

 

Ballet Now will support two commissions each year, helping a total of six artists – one choreographer, composer and designer for each commission. They will create work that will premiere at either BRB or Sadler's Wells in London.

 

BRB currently performs at Sadler's Wells for one week a year, but this will be doubled to accommodate the commissions created for Ballet Now.

 

The programme will also offer the selected artists mentoring from BRB director David Bintley and the company’s music director Koen Kessels.

 

Bintley, who is behind the plans, said the idea had come from a realisation that there is choreographic talent being nurtured through a classical background that is not being used.

"If you work in a classical vein it is very hard, if you are not permanently allied with a company, to get work,” he said.

 

Sadler's Wells artistic director Alistair Spalding added: "There seems to be an issue particularly with the development of new talent coming from ballet itself. There is a big trend for contemporary choreographers to go into the ballet situation, and this is trying to address the fact that it needs to also come through ballet itself."

 

The programme will also have an international element, with BRB partnering with ballet companies across the globe to seek out the talent chosen for Ballet Now.

 

This process will be overseen by a creative consortium, made up of experts from across world ballet. They will also provide mentoring opportunities for the selected artists.

 

The programme begins later this year and is planned to run over five years, allowing the work created by Ballet Now to become the "artistic calling cards" needed to forge careers around the world.

 

Bintley went on to describe international collaboration as "very much the way forward" for ballet companies such as BRB, adding that it would be an important element of ballet's future.

 

The creative consortium met for the first time on April 27.

 

https://www.brb.org.uk/post/ballet-now

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What a wonderful initiative. David Bintley rocks!

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At last, a UK ballet company OPENLY seeking to preserve, celebrate (and I assume extend) the balletic idiom as opposed to - as worthy as it sometimes has proven to be - that with a fixed concentration in the contemporary aspects/literature.  So welcome too that SW is supporting this and recognising a specific need in this country - especially at this defining time - of the glory that can only come from and through - as Mr. Spalding so astutely acknowledges -  "the development of new talent coming from ballet itself." .  How many people today have understandably come to believe that they are one and the same.  No less a personage than Sir Matthew Bourne has oft actively spoken of the distinction and said it should be preserved.  I pray this initiative thrives ...

 

In an ideal world I think it might be grand, say, if BcoF, the BA and LBC might come together and jointly raise a small fund that might support another young choreographer eager to work in this specific arena - or even a few sessions of open training for those in the contemporary area who might like to attempt to extend/enhance their skills/knowledge in this specific and glorious language.  There is no question - at least in my estimation - but that - especially given the dedicated nomination of this overall Forum -  this initiative celebrating the literacy we cherish deserves our most determined and (inter)active endorsement.  .. 

 

Well, done Mr. Bintley.  Well done ALL involved in this seeding.  I'm sure David Nixon will at least be supportive - if not indeed a prime mover in this particular regard.  He has been such a fulcrum in this specific regard - and recently rich in having given opportunities of a meaningful scale to young choreographers within a defined balletic remit - especially at at time when others were understandably sometimes pushing the pendulum in a different (and oft conceived as more commercial) direction.  A respectful marriage - with the independence of each celebrated - is surely optimum.  

 

This addition - as designated - is I'm certain a potentially prime one for all.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Northern Ballet ran a choreographic laboratory for young choreographers for 2 years running.  The first lab, 2 years ago, was a joint venture with the Royal Ballet and Scottish Ballet.  Two of the participants, Kenneth Tindall and Ludovic Ondiviela, have recently created full evening ballets - Casanova and Giselle respectively.  A third, Andrew McNicol, has a project running in London this coming August.

 

It seems to me that the BRB/SW initiative is on a larger scale and will hopefully be just as productive.

 

Good for BRB/SW.  I look forward to hearing more about it.

 

Last night Cassa Pancho tweeted something that would indicate that she is part of the creative consortium that met for the first time yesterday.

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Good to see fresh money going into developing choreographers. 

 

But isn't BRB classical enough already? 

 

To date Bintley wouldn't dream of doing anything like an Akram Khan Giselle, having a piece of Wayne McGregor (new or old) and I doubt Crystal Pite would fit. Scottish just premiered their new piece by Ivgi & Greben to 4 stars and more reviews - again a diversity of work that Bintley has generally struggled to get his head around. 

 

Perhaps the saving grace of the Ballet Now money is that the commissions are by BRB and the Wells and that the process (including selection of creatives) will be overseen by a consortium: "The Consortium consists of: David Bintley (Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Koen Kessels (Music Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Alistair Spalding (Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive), Cassa Pancho (Artistic Director, Ballet Black), Ted Brandsen (Director, Dutch National Ballet), Emma Southworth (Studio Programme Senior Producer, The Royal Ballet), Sally Beamish (Composer), Sally Cavender (Director, Performance Music and Vice-Chairman, Faber Music). More members will be announced shortly."

 

I wish it well that's for sure. Not long to sort themselves out - the first commission is presented by BRB next summer. 

 

Under is the actual press release. I find it very interesting that it does not put the same stress on the classical that the BRB Blog does (first post) - in fact it doesn't mention "classical" once. Good!

 

----

 

BALLET NOW – NURTURING TALENT ON THE BIG STAGE

 

Birmingham Royal Ballet, in association with Sadler’s Wells, to launch world class ballet development programme in 2017

 

In a new and ground-breaking initiative to develop choreographers, composers and designers who show originality, insight and world-class potential but have not had the rare opportunity to work on the largest scale, Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB), in association with Sadler’s Wells (SW), funded Oak Foundation, are to launch Ballet Now this month.

 

Ballet Now is a five-year programme of professional development with two commissions made each year by BRB & SW, supporting a total of 6 artists per year - one choreographer, composer and designer per commission. Commissions will provide the support and freedom to champion artistic innovation, risk taking and new choreographic practice.

 

With mentoring from BRB’s Artistic Director David Bintley, Koen Kessels, Music Director for BRB, and other experts in the dance industry, choreographers, composers and designers will have the opportunity to challenge their choreographic practice and develop creative collaborations for presentation on the large-scale, whilst gaining valuable skills in leading a creative process in a major ballet company.

 

The process will be developed and overseen by a Creative Consortium - a panel of experts drawn from across world ballet supporting the selection of creative talent, as well as overseeing mentoring opportunities and the on-going success of the programme.

 

The framework established by the Creative Consortium will enable the evolution of new and innovative works and for talent to be developed within the most experienced of ballet environments, with day-to-day guidance from some of the most globally renowned experts in their field.

 

The Consortium consists of: David Bintley (Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Koen Kessels (Music Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Alistair Spalding (Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive), Cassa Pancho (Artistic Director, Ballet Black), Ted Brandsen (Director, Dutch National Ballet), Emma Southworth (Studio Programme Senior Producer, The Royal Ballet), Sally Beamish (Composer), Sally Cavender (Director, Performance Music and Vice-Chairman, Faber Music). More members will be announced shortly.

 

Ballet Now will also ensure the widest possible circulation of that work, developing the artistic collaborations needed to forge careers around the world by working in close partnership with some of the world’s leading Companies.

 

A ballet company should not be a museum,” says David Bintley, “it should be active creatively, within its artistic boundaries and also within the communities it serves. Giving an opportunity to artists to work together and take risks on this scale will be a game changer; this is not happening anywhere else in the world and we will make it happen here.”


Ballet Now will launch with the first meeting of the Creative Consortium on Thursday 27 April, with the first awarded commissions to be announced on 3 November 2017 at Sadler’s Wells.

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5 hours ago, Bruce said:

Good to see fresh money going into developing choreographers. 

 

But isn't BRB classical enough already? 

 

To date Bintley wouldn't dream of doing anything like an Akram Khan Giselle, having a piece of Wayne McGregor (new or old) and I doubt Crystal Pite would fit. Scottish just premiered their new piece by Ivgi & Greben to 4 stars and more reviews - again a diversity of work that Bintley has generally struggled to get his head around. 

 

Perhaps the saving grace of the Ballet Now money is that the commissions are by BRB and the Wells and that the process (including selection of creatives) will be overseen by a consortium: "The Consortium consists of: David Bintley (Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Koen Kessels (Music Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Alistair Spalding (Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive), Cassa Pancho (Artistic Director, Ballet Black), Ted Brandsen (Director, Dutch National Ballet), Emma Southworth (Studio Programme Senior Producer, The Royal Ballet), Sally Beamish (Composer), Sally Cavender (Director, Performance Music and Vice-Chairman, Faber Music). More members will be announced shortly."

 

I wish it well that's for sure. Not long to sort themselves out - the first commission is presented by BRB next summer. 

 

Under is the actual press release. I find it very interesting that it does not put the same stress on the classical that the BRB Blog does (first post) - in fact it doesn't mention "classical" once. Good!

 

 

True that it doesn't mention 'classical', but it does repeatedly use 'ballet' (and nowhere does it use 'dance'). So I think the aim is clear (and shows a welcome confidence in ballet - specifically - as an art form).

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Should BRB just copy other companies, especially at this time of very limited funding?  Personally I welcome that the company remains based in the classical/demi character tradition.  I wish the rep was a bit more varied but I can appreciate why that is the case at the moment.  I would happily not bother with Wayne McGregor if we could have some more Balanchine but I doubt they can afford it now.

 

I have expressed frustration at some of the rep recently and I really regret the substituting of La Bayadere with Aladdin but I have to be pragmatic and give David Bintley credit for keeping the company going at all at the moment.  ENB are fashionable, have a dynamic director and a London base which means they get plenty of press coverage.   The RB will always be there with a guaranteed audience and world wide exposure.   BRB have none of that so the company has to play to its strengths.

Edited by Two Pigeons
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Oh - I certainly love ballet and want to see them carry on and doing classical rep as well, which I also love etc. So I wasn't suggesting that they become Birmingham Royal Dance! 

 

ENB, Scottish, RB and many ballet companies around the world have a wider vision of what ballet companies, and ballet dancers, can do - and I like that. No suggestion that all companies should copy one another in terms of specific rep. But I think having somebody at the top with wider vision is good. In BRB's case I also think Bintley giving himself so much of the action around creating new work is too narrow a vision.

 

With regard to BRB vs ENB I'd note that BRB get significantly more Arts Council grant than ENB - and yet they appear less vibrant and progressive. Less the future. 

 

For my money BRB need to go through the same artistic change that Northern Ballet are going through - with a wider diversity of choreographers *creating* (major works) on the company. 

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37 minutes ago, Bruce said:

In BRB's case I also think Bintley giving himself so much of the action around creating new work is too narrow a vision.

 

 

 

Presumably this is more cost-effective than hiring outside choreographers.

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13 hours ago, toursenlair said:

 

Presumably this is more cost-effective than hiring outside choreographers.

 

I am of course not in any way privy to BRBs commercial contracts...

 

But in general I'd say that directors and those who represent them are no fools. Nobody is going to loose track of the value of choreography as distinct from directing. The costs of work are real and will be factored in one way or another.

 

But even if one believed it, it seems wrong to repeatedly choose the same creative for your new work because they are cheap.

 

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4 hours ago, Bruce said:

 

But even if one believed it, it seems wrong to repeatedly choose the same creative for your new work because they are cheap.

 

 

I think that's a bit harsh about David Bintley, who in my opinion produces good ballets. Besides, when a choreographer is the AD of a company, that company tends to be a showcase for their work. Think Balanchine, for instance, but any number of other companies that are run by choreographers.

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4 hours ago, toursenlair said:

 

I think that's a bit harsh about David Bintley, who in my opinion produces good ballets. Besides, when a choreographer is the AD of a company, that company tends to be a showcase for their work. Think Balanchine, for instance, but any number of other companies that are run by choreographers.

 

My point was perhaps more a generic response to a generic observation.

 

I so actually much admire some of Bintley's work - I don't have a universal down on all he does at all. Long may he create... but not dominate creation. 

 

I don't think so many companies of the BRB size are run this way. Hamburg Ballet is under Neumeier. Possibly Houston under Welch? But who then of this size?  Contrast NYCB and SFB both with choreographing directors and both giving the bulk of the money to outside choreographers. I think that's a far better model.

 

Not sure it's so good to raise Balanchine's name in the same breath as Bintley. They do different work but I don't think many would put them in the same league. Certainly if anybody had a 'right' to give themselves all the new work it would be Balanchine. He certainly did an awful lot for NYCB (understatement!) but even he realised that there needed to be another very significant choreographer creating on NYCB - Jerry Robbins.

 

I've done this to death I know - and upset many I'm sure. Time to move on I think.

 

But I will say I will be at the premiere of Ruth Brill's new work for BRB this Friday. Very much support growing choreographers and the company.

 

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