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Press Release: Northern Ballet and American Ballet Theatre première dance films with choreography inspired by school pupils

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Wednesday 29 July 2020

For immediate release


Northern Ballet and American Ballet Theatre première dance films

inspired by students’ choreography from West Yorkshire

and New York City





Northern Ballet has worked with American Ballet Theatre to create four new dance films, featuring professional dancers performing choreography by students from West Yorkshire and New York City. Produced as part of the Burberry Foundation’s Burberry Inspire programme, which pairs schools with arts organisations in Yorkshire and New York, the films can be watched at northernballet.com/digitaldance


Filmed on location including recognisable landmarks such as The Hepworth Wakefield, Salts Mill and Times Square, the final films were overseen by Northern Ballet’s Artistic Director of Digital and Choreographer in Residence Kenneth Tindall. Performed by professional dancers from Northern Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, students from Castleford and Queens inspired the choreography for the films in a first for both ballet companies.


Kenneth Tindall said: “The collaboration between Northern Ballet, Burberry Inspire and American Ballet Theatre is a wonderful concept that is close to my heart. It was a project like this that sparked the imagination of a young working-class kid, in an inner-city school in London who otherwise would never have discovered the world of ballet. It’s an honour to have come full circle and be in the position I am in now, utilising my skills and creativity to try and engage and inspire the next generation as I was inspired all those years ago.”


Leanne Kirkham, Director of Learning at Northern Ballet said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the unprecedented impact on every aspect of our lives has highlighted the importance of creativity as we’ve adjusted at home, at work and at play. With great challenge comes great opportunity and we wanted to share this ethos with young people by offering them a chance to work with professional dancers like never before. Pupils in Yorkshire and New York City have risen to the challenge and created some beautifully inspiring choreography which our dancers have loved bringing to life.”




The films mark the first collaboration between Northern Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, working together virtually to bring the students’ ideas to life.


Dennis Walters, Associate Director of Education and Training at American Ballet Theatre said: “We’re pleased to build upon the success of the Burberry Inspire program and now bring virtual learning in dance and design to a wide audience of middle school students in NYC and beyond. The opportunity to collaborate, share ideas and develop curriculum with the talented artists and educators of Northern Ballet has been a special experience for the artists of American Ballet Theatre and the students participating in Burberry Inspire. We look forward to our continued partnership and the opportunity to share student stories and experiences through dance-making from both sides of the Atlantic.”


The Burberry Foundation first launched Burberry Inspire in 2018 in Yorkshire, aiming to give young people a deep and varied experience of arts and culture whilst studying the impact of this on their development. During the first year of the programme, more than 4,000 young people benefitted from their experience of the creative arts, ranging from dance and theatre to filmmaking and sculpture with four Yorkshire arts organisations: Northern Ballet; The Hepworth Wakefield;Leeds Playhouse; and Leeds Young Film.


Earlier this year, the Burberry Foundation expanded the programme internationally for the first time, launching in New York City with American Ballet Theatre, Reel Works and Studio in a School. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations from the Yorkshire and New York programmes came together to find new ways to inspire and support students in the midst of the pandemic virtually, with support from the Creative Arts Team (CAT) at CUNY and The Ideas Foundation.


Pam Batty, Secretary to The Burberry Foundation and VP of Corporate Responsibility at Burberry said: “The Burberry Foundation is dedicated to using the power of creativity to drive positive change, which is why we’re thrilled to have expanded Burberry Inspire internationally and help bring eminent arts organisations from across countries together. Supporting the arts and engaging students in creativity is more prevalent than ever, and we’re grateful to all the teams who have worked tirelessly to continue to provide resources and cultivate a true sense of community and connection.”






Creative Direction & Choreography Kenneth Tindall

Direction, Film & Edit Emily Nuttall

Dancers Minju Kang & Lorenzo Trossello, Northern Ballet

Drone pilot and camera operator Kevin Poeung

Part of a collaboration between Northern Ballet, Burberry Inspire and American Ballet Theatre.

Thanks to ProVision, Leeds; Salts Mill, Bradford; The Hepworth Wakefield

Special thanks to Ruby P from Airedale Academy, UK who inspired the choreography of this piece 




Creative Direction & Choreography Kenneth Tindall 

Direction, Film & Edit Emily Nuttall

Dancer Kevin Poeung, Northern Ballet

Part of a collaboration between Northern Ballet, Burberry Inspire and American Ballet Theatre.

Thanks to ProVision, Leeds, The Hepworth Wakefield

Special thanks to Ellie T from Airedale Academy, UK who inspired the choreography of this piece



A Lonely Summer’s Day

Creative Direction Kenneth Tindall 

Choreography and Performance Melvin Lawovi & Chloe Misseldine, American Ballet Theatre

Filmed by Yan Chen, Tsung Jui Chuang (Albert) & Sung Yu Lee (Sean)

Edited by Emily Nuttall

Part of a collaboration between Northern Ballet, Burberry Inspire and American Ballet Theatre.

Special thanks to Charlotte H from Castleford Academy, UK who inspired the choreography of this piece




Creative Direction Kenneth Tindall 

Choreography and performance Leah Baylin, Kanon Kimura, Joseph Markey & Duncan McIlwaine, American Ballet Theatre

Filmed by Eva Baylin, Dylan Markey, Kelly Markey, Duncan McIlwaine, Kanon Kimura

Edited by Emily Nuttall

Part of a collaboration between Northern Ballet, Burberry Inspire and American Ballet Theatre.

Special thanks to Camilla C from MS 358Q, US who inspired the choreography of this piece



Northern Ballet
Northern Ballet is one of the UK’s leading ballet companies and the widest touring ballet company in the UK. Bold and innovative in its approach, Northern Ballet is prolific at creating new full-length work with a unique blend of strong classical technique and impressive storytelling. Northern Ballet’s repertoire embraces popular culture and takes inspiration from literature, legend, opera and the classics, pushing the boundaries of what stories can be told through dance.


Northern Ballet works to make dance accessible to all and enable everyone to learn more about ballet in a variety of ways. Offering a range of school workshops, projects, classes and courses as well as resources and activities at the theatre, Northern Ballet offers programmes for children and adults as well as specific projects for those with learning difficulties or physical disabilities. Northern Ballet reaches more than 50,000 participants annually with these projects.


In 2020 Northern Ballet is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.


American Ballet Theatre
Recognized by an act of the United States Congress as America’s National Ballet Company®, American Ballet Theatre is one of the great dance companies in the world. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope and outreach. Founded in 1940, ABT performs for more than 300,000 people annually. It has made more than 30 international tours to 45 countries and has been sponsored by the State Department of the United States on many of these engagements. In keeping with its long-standing commitment to bringing the finest in dance to the widest possible audience, ABT has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Hong Kong, Brisbane, Singapore, Oman and Paris.

The Burberry Foundation 
The Burberry Foundation was set up in 2008 by Burberry Group plc as an independent charity for general charitable purposes and grant-making. The Foundation Board comprises two Burberry representatives and an independent trustee. The Board meets four times a year and is responsible for upholding the Foundation’s vision and ensuring delivery of its charitable purpose.

Considering the varied social, environmental and economic impacts of the luxury industry on communities worldwide, the Foundation is dedicated to using the power of creativity to drive positive change in our communities and build a more sustainable future through innovation. It is therefore taking a long-term approach and focusing its grant-making on promoting the STEAM agenda, tackling educational inequality, reducing waste and supporting social and economic development.

Photos Emily Nuttall




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