Ballet Now

Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sadler's Wells are joining forces for a major new development programme for classical choreographers.

The scheme will support large-scale commissions by emerging choreographers as well as offer mentoring from major ballet companies.

Ballet Now is specifically for choreographers who have taken a classical route but have not had the opportunity to work on the largest scale. It will also work with composers and designers.

The programme is being funded by £1.1 million from Oak Foundation, with BRB looking to match fund the same amount again.

Ballet Now will support two commissions each year, helping a total of six artists – one choreographer, composer and designer for each commission. They will create work that will premiere at either BRB or Sadler's Wells in London.

BRB currently performs at Sadler's Wells for one week a year, but this will be doubled to accommodate the commissions created for Ballet Now.

The programme will also offer the selected artists mentoring from BRB director David Bintley and the company’s music director Koen Kessels.


David Bintley in rehearsal.

Bintley, who is behind the plans, said the idea had come from a realisation that there is choreographic talent being nurtured through a classical background that is not being used.

"If you work in a classical vein it is very hard, if you are not permanently allied with a company, to get work,” he said.

Sadler's Wells artistic director Alistair Spalding added: "There seems to be an issue particularly with the development of new talent coming from ballet itself. There is a big trend for contemporary choreographers to go into the ballet situation, and this is trying to address the fact that it needs to also come through ballet itself."

The programme will also have an international element, with BRB partnering with ballet companies across the globe to seek out the talent chosen for Ballet Now.

This process will be overseen by a creative consortium, made up of experts from across world ballet. They will also provide mentoring opportunities for the selected artists.

The programme begins later this year and is planned to run over five years, allowing the work created by Ballet Now to become the "artistic calling cards" needed to forge careers around the world.

Bintley went on to describe international collaboration as "very much the way forward" for ballet companies such as BRB, adding that it would be an important element of ballet's future.

The creative consortium met for the first time on April 27.