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London Children's Ballet - Anne of Green Gables

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Including Ruth Brill, Andrew McNicol, Leanne Cope, Gus Nicholson & Elin Steele
 A Little Princess (2012)  (Photo Pedro Ferrer)

Each year, a favourite children’s story is transformed by London Children's Ballet with an original scenario full of humour, drama and excitement to engage a family audience. A company of talented young dancers aged 9 - 16 are auditioned, from over 600 applicants and spend five months in rehearsal.  LCB brings emerging artists together.  It commissions a talented choreographer to create the ballet, an up-and-coming composer to write a full-length narrative score and a young designer, to bring the characters to life. The resulting collaboration is then staged over a week-long run to sell-out audiences in the West End’s Peacock Theatre.

Anne of Green Gables, written in 1908 by the Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery will be performed from 18 - 21 June 2020.

Artistic Director RUTH BRILL joined LCB in September taking over from Lucille Briance who founded the company 25 years ago.  She danced with London Children’s Ballet in four productions as a child and credits LCB as the inspiring factor that led her into a career in dance.  Ruth trained at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and English National Ballet School. She danced with English National Ballet from 2007-2012.  Ruth then moved to Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) in 2012 and was promoted to First Artist in 2014.  She returned to LCB last season to choreograph and re-stage Cathy Marston's production of Ballet Shoes and recently retired from dancing in Summer 2019 to work with LCB and pursue a freelance choreography career.

Ruth was given her first chance to create new choreography for BRB in 2013. Her formal commissions include Rhapsody in Blue (2014), Matryoshka (2015), Arcadia (2017) and Peter and The Wolf (2019).

Ruth has also choreographed for The Rugby World Cup Welcoming Ceremony for England (2015), community Flashmobs for Birmingham Weekender (2015, 2017), Future Dreams Charity Gala at the London Palladium (2018), Box 9 Drumline (2019) and National Youth Ballet (2017, 2019), where she was also the Interim Artistic Director for the 2019 Wonderlands Season.

Current and recent projects include Peter and the Wolf for Birmingham Royal Ballet, dance enactments for a film documentary about Dame Gillian Lynne, Breakdance Ballet for Birmingham Royal Ballet/Grand Opera House Belfast and Domino for New English Ballet Theatre.

Choreographer ANDREW McNICOL trained at The Royal Ballet School and completed his formal studies through Ballet Central’s professional choreographic programme (MA).  He has been noted as 'a rising star' BBC News 'musical and fully engaged' Jann Parry 'really someone to watch' Sir Peter Wright.  Andrew has created works for major companies and organisations such as the Joffrey Ballet (Chicago) The Royal Ballet (London), The Royal Ballet of Flanders (Belgium), BalletX (Philadelphia), The New York Choreographic Institute (New York) The Royal Ballet School, New English Ballet Theatre, Ballet Central, Images Ballet Company among others. Andrew was the recipient of the 2018 BalletX Choreographic Fellowship and created Requiem. The NYTimes wrote 'abounds in dramatic situations, McNicol has plenty of formal skill'.  Main Line Times hailed it as 'powerful and sensitive'.   In 2019 he created Yonder Blue for Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet receiving critical acclaim; 'gives a sense of awesome wonderment' Chicago Tribune.  'A rare gem of a ballet that transcends the here and now' 'Achingly gorgeous duet' Lynn Colbert Shapiro. Andrew is a versatile choreographer.  Alongside creating narrative and abstract ballets for the stage he has also created dance works for film, site specific work most notably for The London Olympics and collaborated with acclaimed opera trio Juice. Andrew launched his company The McNicol Ballet Collectiveworking with dancers from some of the world's leading ballet companies to create ambitious new ballets, original dance films and special collaborative projects.  In 2019 Andrew was invited as choreographic mentor for The Royal Ballet Upper School.

Ballet Mistress LEANNE COPE was born in Bath and started dancing at The Dorothy Colebourne School of Dancing aged five before joining The Royal Ballet School.  Graduating into The Royal Ballet in 2003 she danced in all the repertoire and created roles in ballets by Jonathan Watkins, Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor and Liam Scarlett in his ballets Asphodel Meadows, Sweet Violets (Emily Dimmock) Hansel and Gretel (Gretel).  Leanne left The Royal Ballet in 2015 to create the role of “Lise” in The Tony winning musical An American in Paris on Broadway for which she was nominated for a Tony award. She then returned home to London to headline the Olivier award winning West End production. 

Composer GUS NICHOLSON grew up in the Essex countryside, 26 yr old Gus Nicholson studied Music at King’s College London before completing his Masters in Composition for Screen at the Royal Academy of Music from 2017-2019 under at BAFTA scholarship where he was mentored by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Maggie Rodford.

Composing for Anne of Green Gables is the first ballet commission undertaken by Nicholson. 'I am used to writing music that closely accompanies visuals, such as for a short film or animation, so the visual element in writing a ballet feels quite familiar, but I am also learning a lot, having never written a ballet before. The ballet will be around 80 minutes long, which is longer than any other work I have created previously. In order to create a coherent piece of music it’s been important to establish distinct themes and motifs early on that are then adapted and woven through the score later on to allow the music to tell the story. The collaborative process has been really valuable; I am used to being brought onto projects near the end of the process when the story and visuals are already finished, so I’ve really enjoyed sharing thoughts and ideas with the creative team from an early stage.'

Piano has always been Nicholson's main instrument, 'I was lucky enough to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Andrew West for the performance part of my undergraduate degree at KCL. I’ve also done a lot of singing over the years and I have dabbled with guitar and French horn.'

He was musical director of KCL's prestigious a capella group, All the King’s Men. He wrote his first vocal arrangement for the group in 2014, which went on to win awards for arranging at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) and at the esteemed Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARA) just a year later. 

Costume Designer Elin Steele works across dance, theatre, opera, and film.  Fluent in Welsh, she was brought up on the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales, and attended the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff, graduating with a first class honours degree in design for performance.  

She is a recipient of the Cardiff New Theatre Society Award and the Ashley Family Foundation Scholarship, as well as the Margaret Amelia Thomas Award and has worked on such diverse productions as Matthew Bourne's Romeo & Juliet as design assistant, was designer of Scottish Ballet's Dextera, assisted on the Spice Girls Tour 2019,  designed Woof for the Sherman, assisted on ITV's Glass Houses and BBC's Wolf Hall.

Elin is currently one of 12 finalists of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2019.

   Artistic Director Ruth Brill (Photo Dasa Wharton)                                             Composer Gus Nicholson
              Costume Designer Elin Steele                                                    Ballet Mistress Leanne Cope
 Choreographer Andrew McNicol (Photo Filip van Roe)
About London Children’s Ballet

Every year around 600 children audition to join London Children’s Ballet. The 60 children who go on to be cast in the company’s production are given 100 hours of free ballet training culminating in the chance to perform in a professionally created ballet on a West End stage. The opportunity is offered free of charge, which makes LCB unique in the world of ballet. At auditions, the organisation does not discriminate on grounds of height, body shape or income and dancers are selected purely on their ability and star quality. London Children’s Ballet fundraises year-round to ensure that it is able to offer its unique opportunity to all of its young dancers regardless of their circumstances. Demand for places has remained so high that a second branch of the company, the LCB Tour, was created in 2004 to increase the number of children able to participate and to broaden the outreach the organisation is able to achieve. Twice a year 50 additional LCB touring company dancers perform in residential homes, hospices, day centres and Special Educational Needs schools with a 30-minute tailored performance, taking ballet out into the community and ensuring an enriching experience for all involved. LCB also runs thriving programmes in the community throughout the year, touching the lives of over 3,000 disadvantaged children and elderly people with workshops and inspirational performances.

Changing Lives Through Dance: Key Facts & Figures

  • 19 choreographers and 10 composers have set their first full-length ballet for LCB

  • 1,296 young dancers have received over 100 hours of free tuition and performed on stage with LCB 

  • 684 young dancers have performed as part of an LCB Touring Company

  • 11,427 children from over 250 ballet schools have auditioned for LCB 

  • 34,240 disadvantaged children and isolated elderly people have seen an LCB production through our Ballet for £1 programme; for most this is their first experience of ballet

  • 25% of all tickets to LCB performances are available to schools and charities for £1

  • 342 outreach venues have hosted a performance by a LCB touring company, bringing the joy of dance and music to hospices, special needs schools, hospitals, day centres and residential nursing homes

  • LCB has created 15 original narrative ballet productions with new music and choreography

  • 7,296 inner-city primary school children have participated in a free LCB ballet workshops

'A firework display of talent and promise, bursting with more life and energy than most London stages ever produce'   EMMA THOMPSON

'A magical evening of enchantment, humour, nostalgia and charm! 3 generations of our family were enraptured!’   VANESSA FELTZ

                          Jane Eyre (2008)                                                          Ballet Shoes  (2019)  Photo Alice Pennefather
                                                                         Snow White (2009)

For further information please contact Anna Hickman Lewin at pr@hickmanandassociates.co.uk or call 07774 883909 

26 November 2019
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