Interview

David Bintley on choreographic development

With David Bintley's Beauty and the Beast opening the new season, and some of his earlier works like The Dance House and Sylvia coming later in the year, the Birmingham Royal Ballet Director has spoken about the development of his choreography.

'I've always tied to avoid the notion of a linear line running through my work,' he reveals. 'That's very deliberate, because I'm always trying to do a very different piece to the previous one, rather than just doing the same thing over and over.

'In Cyrano I tried to do something completely different from what I would do in a non-narrative piece like Take Five, which followed it.

'I remember someone saying after I'd done eight or nine ballets, that my work was erratic, it wasn't getting better and better consistently. Some ballets would be better than previous works, but then one wouldn't be. But that's kind of how everyone is isn't it?

'I don't see how you can work for any length of time, with each piece following on from the last. When I work the emphasis is not necessarily on the same particular thing as it was in the previous piece; I never wanted to just try to develop the same idea again and again.

'I've always deliberately tried to surprise myself, and love it when I do. I must have done 60 or 70 pieces now, and every time I've been trying to do something I've not done before, and to challenge myself in different little ways.

'I think that over time some people develop more of a style than others, and often that is because their field of work is narrower. While I think that I probably have got a style, which must come out of doing the steps that I like, I'm not trying to come up with my own style consciously.

'I try with every piece to start again, to start anew. But the problem is that even when I’m trying not to be me, I'm always there in my own work.

'Someone once criticised me for not developing my own language, but I was always of the opinion that I work in Classical ballet, and that as a language that was always good enough for Ashton and Balanchine and MacMillan and Petipa, and it's good enough for me!'