Ballet Now - First commissions announced

Birmingham Royal Ballet, in association with Sadler’s Wells, has announced the first three choreographers and first two composers commissioned as part of Ballet Now – a unique five-year programme of professional development for choreographers, composers and designers funded by Oak Foundation.

Ballet Now will create two new one-act ballets per year for five years, each with a choreographer, composer and designer who are creating their first dance piece for a large company on a large stage. In total 30 artists will collaborate on these new works, helping to grow the pool of artistic talent available to ballet companies world-wide. This not only guarantees ten new ballets for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s dancers to perform, and for the Company’s audiences to see, but it offers those 30 artists an individual mentoring plan, a budget for their work and a level of creative support that they will not previously have experienced.

This ground-breaking initiative has been developed and overseen by a Creative Consortium; a panel of experts drawn from across the world of ballet supporting the selection of creative talent, as well as overseeing mentoring opportunities and the on-going success of the programme.

The Consortium consists of: David Bintley (Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Koen Kessels (Music Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Alistair Spalding (Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive), Cassa Pancho (Artistic Director, Ballet Black), Ted Brandsen (Director, Dutch National Ballet), Emma Southworth (Studio Programme Senior Producer, The Royal Ballet), Sally Beamish (Composer), Sally Cavender (Director, Performance Music and Vice-Chairman, Faber Music).

The first three Ballet Now choreographers are George Williamson, Juanjo Arqués and Didy Veldman. The first two Ballet Now composers are Sarah Kirkland Snider (working alongside George Williamson) and Gabriel Prokofiev (working with Didy Veldman). These artists have been selected by the Creative Consortium due to the originality, insight and world-class potential shown in their previous work. Ballet Now will give them the opportunity to challenge their choreographic practice and work on the largest scale, whilst leading a creative process in a major ballet company.

Abigail Reeve, producer of Ballet Now, commented: ‘Ballet Now is a unique programme of development and new work that Birmingham Royal Ballet is delighted to be launching in association with Sadler’s Wells.  Its aim is to develop the next set of creative voices for the dance world. Our first three choreographers commissioned through the programme bring with them fresh outlooks and ideas which will excite audiences across the world.’

The Ballet Now programme will also support one designer per commission; further details will be announced in 2018.

The first Ballet Now commission, choreographed by George Williamson, will be performed as part of the In the Upper Room mixed programme at Sadler’s Wells (15-16 June 2018) and Birmingham Hippodrome (20-23 June 2018).


For further information, interview requests and images please contact:
Emma Cann, PR & Internal Communications Co-ordinator–; 0121 245 3505


In the Upper Room mixed programmeIn the Upper Room | Kin. | Ballet Now (title tbc) Sadler’s Wells, London Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TN; Box Office: 020 7863 8000;

Friday 15 (PRESS NIGHT, 7.30pm) – Saturday 16 June

Priority booking for Birmingham Royal Ballet Friends: Friday 17 November 10am General on sale: Monday 20 November 10am

Birmingham Hippodrome

Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham B5 4TB; Box Office: 0844 338 5000;

Wednesday 20 (PRESS NIGHT, 7.30pm) – Saturday 23 June



Ballet Now

Ballet Now presents Birmingham Royal Ballet with the unique opportunity to support emerging choreographic talent, international artists and attract a new diverse audience of over 15,000 people per year. In order to fund the programme across the five year period, The Oak Foundation have committed £1.1 million, alongside further donations of £150,000 from the Anthony Coombs Trust, £150,000 from the Keith Coombs Trust and £10,000 from the John S Cohen Foundation.

Birmingham Royal Ballet Based at Birmingham Hippodrome since 1990, Birmingham Royal Ballet is the United Kingdom’s leading classical ballet touring company performing a range of traditional, classical and heritage ballets as well as ground-breaking new works with the aim of encouraging choreographers of the future.

The company’s Director is the award-winning David Bintley, CBE, Chief Executive is Jan Teo and Music Director is Koen Kessels. Birmingham Royal Ballet performs at Birmingham Hippodrome for approximately ten weeks of the year and the remainder of the year tours throughout the United Kingdom and overseas.    The Royal Ballet Sinfonia is Britain's busiest ballet orchestra, playing for Birmingham Royal Ballet's wide-ranging programme in the UK and abroad. The Sinfonia also plays frequently for The Royal Ballet and many of the world's other leading ballet companies, including regular performances with; The Royal Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, New York City Ballet, Australian Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Kirov, Norwegian Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and La Scala Ballet.


Sadler’s Wells is a world-leading creative organisation dedicated to dance in all its forms. With over three centuries of theatrical heritage and a year-round programme of performances and learning activities, its goal is to motivate everyone to experience dance – to take part, learn, experiment and be inspired. Audiences of over half a million come to Sadler’s Wells’ London theatres each year, with many more enjoying its touring productions at partner venues across the UK and around the world, or accessing its content through digital channels.

Sadler’s Wells commissions and presents more new dance work than any other theatre in the world, embracing the popular and the unknown. Since 2005, it has helped to bring over 140 new dance works to the stage, many of them involving its 16 Associate Artists, three Resident Companies and four Associate Companies – the most exciting talents working in dance today. It also nurtures the next generation of talent through its artist development initiatives, and reaches over 25,000 annually through its learning and engagement programmes

Located in Islington, north London, the current theatre is the sixth to have stood on the site since it was first built by entrepreneur Richard Sadler in 1683. The venue has played an illustrious role in the history of theatre ever since with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Opera having all started at Sadler’s Wells. Sadler’s Wells is a charity and a National Portfolio Organisation, currently receiving 10% of its revenue from Arts Council England.

Oak Foundation

Ballet Now has been made possible through the granting of funding from Oak Foundation’s Special Interest Programme and ongoing fundraising. Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. Oak’s Special Interest Programme reflects the Trustees’ interest in making dynamic, diverse, large, innovative and challenging grants. Oak Foundation’s Trustees are committed to remaining flexible and to seizing opportunities as they arise. Special Interest grants cover a wide range of fields including health, humanitarian relief, education and the arts. They are made to organisations whose activities the Trustees wish to support, irrespective of country or region.