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New directions for Scottish Ballet

Posted on September 13, 2012

claire robertson daniel davidson in forsythe workwithinwork. photo andrew ross

claire-robertson-daniel-davidson-in-forsythe-workwithinwork.-photo-andrew-rossChristopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s new artistic director, has announced his plans for the company. His first full-length work for Scottish Ballet will be supported by a groundbreaking education project, which aims to bring people across Scotland into the new ballet’s creative process. The company has also been granted an exclusive license to dance Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling, and announced plans to work with a range of choreographers.

Hampson’s new full-length production Hansel & Gretel, to music by Engelbert Humperdinck, will have its premiere at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal in December 2013. Over the next year, an ambitious series of events will ask people of all ages to generate ideas on the story’s themes.

This autumn, creative writing workshops on Hansel & Gretel themes will take place in schools across Scotland, with a creative writing competition organised by Scottish Ballet in collaboration with the National Library of Scotland. Schools will have special workshops with a dance artist and a storyteller before children write their own stories. An adult creative writing competition will be judged by Hampson and author Louise Welsh. Winning entries will be published in a national newspaper, and will also receive a masterclass with Welsh, as well as tickets to the new ballet.

Visual art workshops and a student competition will be launched in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland. Children will learn about paintings from the Galleries’ collections before making their own pictures on Hansel & Gretel themes. The winning artworks will be part of the ballet’s design process, with Hampson and production designer Gary Harris judging the competition. Winning entries will be displayed at the National Gallery of Scotland, and winners will again receive Hansel & Gretel tickets.

In association with the Forestry Commission and regional dance agencies, Scottish Ballet will hold week-long woodland workshops from early 2013, generating site-specific performances in Scottish forests. In July 2013, Scottish Ballet and The Citizens Theatre will hold a two-week summer school for children aged six to eight, with outdoor sessions in urban green spaces. There will also be a two-day choreographic lab for teenagers.

Hampson’s ballet, his first full-length work for Scottish Ballet, will draw on the common threads and images that have emerged from this grassroots programme.

This autumn, the company will tour a triple bill of Martin Lawrance’s Run For It, Hans Van Manen’s 5 Tangos and William Forsythe’s Workwithinwork (pictured), followed by a Christmas run of The Nutcracker, in a production by the Scottish Ballet’s previous artistic director, Ashley Page.

Scottish Ballet has been granted an exclusive license to Bourne’s Highland Fling, a contemporary reworking of La Sylphide, which the company will tour across Scotland in spring 2013.

Hampson sees curation as his primary role as director, aiming to build up a broad repertory. The company plans to work with a range of young choreographers, including former Ballet Frankfurt dancer Helen Pickett, Crystal Pite, the award-winning director of Kidd Pivot, The Royal Ballet’s Kristen McNally and James Cousins, winner of the first New Adventures Choreographic Award. There are also plans to acquire another ballet by Kenneth MacMillan and, and to revive works by the company’s founding artistic director, Peter Darrell. The company has recently restaged sections of Darrell’s Chéri for a BBC Scotland documentary to be shown later this year, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the choreographer’s death.

Hampson also hopes to re-establish Scottish Ballet 2, a smaller offshoot of the company. He wants to develop a closer relationship with the BA Modern Ballet students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Scottish Ballet, in partnership with Royal Academy of Dance and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, will present the Genée International Ballet Competition in Glasgow in September 2013.

“As Scotland’s national dance company, we look forward to enriching, enthusing and engaging with communities, participants and audiences across Scotland and beyond,” Hampson said. “We may be the smallest of the national ballet companies in the UK, but like Scotland itself, we’re outward-looking and pioneering. Our size and approach means we’re adaptable, agile an able. We are excited to be working with a wide range of choreographers that will allow us to broaden the repertoire and produce new work in original ways. Commissioning new work always has been, and will continue to be, the lifeblood of our company.”

Picture: Claire Robertson and Daniel Davidson in William Forsythe’s Workwithinwork. Photograph: Andrew Ross

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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