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Press Release: Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sir David Bintley, bbodance create dance film about the lockdown experience of young student

Jan McNulty

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For immediate release — 20/07/2020



© Fraya Cowan (top) / Virtuoso Dance Photography (left) / Royal Opera House (right)


Birmingham Royal Ballet dancer
creates film to help students
process their lockdown experience


The dance world has been especially hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, with classes, auditions, and exams cancelled around the world. According to parents and teachers, this has had a negative impact on students' psychological wellbeing.

To stimulate their creativity and keep them engaged, 
Brandon Lawrence, Principal Dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB), created a choreography challenge in partnership with bbodance earlier this summer.

151 students from the U.K., South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Kuwait, and Canada answered the question, What does lockdown mean to you? by choreographing a dance to an original score commissioned from the award-winning composer, Andrew Kristy, especially for this project.

Their work was assessed by Brandon Lawrence, Julie Bowers, the bbodance Director of Artistic Development, and BRB's former Artistic Director, Sir David Bintley, CBE. The internationally acclaimed choreographer also chose the overall winner of the challenge, Fraya Cowan, aged 11, a student of Emily Jade Theatre Arts school in London.

Following the assessment, Brandon chose clips from all the dances entered into the challenge and edited them together to an extended version of the score entitled Pandemisis — the start, lockdown, hope.

In contrast to the many dance films created during lockdown, which feature professionals, Brandon's film sought to bring together the imperfect, unfiltered efforts of dance students seeking to come to terms with the pandemic. The result is a unique testimony of their collective experience — and, perhaps, catharsis.

"I’m humbled to have had the opportunity to deliver this event alongside bbodance," Brandon stated. "I’m very grateful to Julie Bowers, Andrew Kristy, Dansez, and Sir David Bintley, as well as each and every dancer who should be proud of their contribution. Bravo!" 

"I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the students and their responses to the challenge of making dance during lockdown. 
The ingenuity and inventiveness of young minds exploring the limits of their imaginations as well as the limits of their kitchens, living rooms, backyards, and gardens was both exciting and entertaining, but the piece that really captured the COVID zeitgeist for me was Fraya Cowen’s Lockdown. Beautiful, beautifully conceived, and touchingly simple," Sir David said.

Brandon Lawrence is featured on the cover the July Dancing Times. He is the youngest Patron of bbodance, the organization that trained him.

bbodance celebrated its 90th anniversary this spring.



About Brandon Lawrence

Born in Bradford, Brandon Lawrence started training at age 8 at Nydza School of Dance; due to his exceptional performance, he was accepted into the organisation's elite group of students, the bbodance Scholars. After attending the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School, Brandon auditioned for The Royal Ballet School, where he trained until age 19, when he was offered a contract by Birmingham Royal Ballet Artistic Director, Sir David Bintley, CBE. According to an interview, Brandon was keen to accept this offer due to BRB's reputation for being an ideal place to grow as a dancer. Brandon was promoted to Soloist in 2016, Senior Soloist in 2018, and Principal in 2019; he is best known for roles in Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, Sir Peter Wright's Swan Lake, and Sir David Bintley’s The Prince of the Pagodas. Brandon is also involved in BRB's Ballet? What’s That? educational events that aim to introduce people to the art form. Two years ago, Brandon performed at Buckingham Palace for HRH The Prince of Wales.

About bbodance

Founded 90 years ago by Edouard Espinosa and formerly known as the British Ballet Organization (BBO), bbodance is an international dance awarding organisation with a large membership in the UK and Australasia. bbodance provides Ofqual-recognised syllabi in Musical Theatre, Jazz, Contemporary, Classical Ballet, Modern, and Tap, as well as comprehensive dance teacher training and inspiring events for students and teachers. bbodance Patrons include Strictly Come Dancing Judge, Craig Revel Horwood, former Artistic Director of Rambert, Mark Baldwin OBE, and BRB Principal, Brandon Lawrence, a former bbodance Scholar.

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