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Scottish Ballet at 50

Posted on June 26, 2019

Chris Hamson

Scottish Ballet celebrated its 50th anniversary this weekend at Festival Theatre in Edinburgh with guests taking over the theatre’s stage for a special dinner.

For the company’s golden anniversary, giant gold pipes and twinkling lights hung from the rafters, bouquets were peppered with golden ferns and the event finale was dusted with “SB50” confetti falling from above.

On June 22, 350 guests gathered to celebrate Scottish Ballet’s 50 years of inspiring audiences, on stage and beyond. The event looked to the future, raising funds for the company’s ambitious Five in Five campaign – a commitment to produce five new full-length ballets, over the next five years.

Guests were treated on the night to three world premiere performances from the company. Principals Andrew Peasgood and Bethany Kingsley-Garner danced a pas de deux from Christopher Hampson’s new work The Snow Queen, set to music by Rimsky-Korsakov, which will premiere this December in the same venue. The Snow Queen is the second of the five new ballets commissioned under the Five in Five campaign and will tour Scotland and to Newcastle this winter.

A duet TBA, also choreographed by Christopher Hampson, was set to music by Estilo Para Bailar from the album Grandes Exitos de Tango. The dance was made for and performed by principal dancers Christopher Harrison and Constance Devernay.

Finally, the full company performed a Charleston created by Strictly Come Dancing choreographer, Hannah Flynn, set to the music “Shake That Thing” by Charlie “Papa” Jackson, which led into a night of everyone dancing to music from That Swing Sensation.

Acclaimed ballet creator Gary Harris, who collaborated with Scottish Ballet on Hampson’s production of Hansel and Gretel, designed the stunning decor for the gala. Scottish Ballet’s technical and wardrobe departments delivered the staging and costumes.

Guests included Scottish Ballet CEO and artistic director, Christopher Hampson, and executive director Steven Roth; members of the board of Scottish Ballet including Catherine Muirden and Kirsty Wark; leading figures from the worlds of business and finance including Sir Sandy and Lady Margaret Crombie, Elizabeth and Alistair Salvesen, Geoff and Mary Ball and Sir Bill and Lady Gammell; and Scottish film favourite, John Gordon Sinclair.

Compère and comedian, Fred MacAulay welcomed guests to the champagne reception, before leading them to the stage for a three-course meal. The milestone event was introduced by chair of the board Norman Murray.

Tickets to the event, a raffle and silent auction supported by businesses from across Scotland and the UK raised £160,000 in support of Scottish Ballet’s stage and outreach work – a fitting tribute to 50 years of wonderful dance “crafted by Scotland”.

Image: Christopher Hampson, Shauna McKeon and John Gordon Sinclair. Photograph by Sally Jubb 

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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