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 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. Although all three choreographers have created for major companies and stages previously, it’s not an opportunity they get regularly. Ballet Now not only guarantees ten new ballets for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s dancers to perform but it offers those 30 artists great creative support and a significant budget.
The first Ballet Now choreographer to have his work performed (as part of the In the Upper Room mixed programme at Sadler’s Wells on June 15 and 16, 2018, and Birmingham Hippodrome from June 20-23) will be George Williamson. Born in Worcestershire, he already has a Birmingham connection having trained first at what is now Elmhurst Ballet School, before moving on to the English National Ballet School, where his choreographic work began, and where he won the Choreographic Competition for three consecutive years. He subsequently danced with Polish National Ballet, for which he created Animus in 2011. The following year saw his new Firebird for English National Ballet, danced as part of its March London Coliseum season. Williamson will work with American composer Sarah Kirkland Snider.
The other choreographers are Didy Veldman and Juanjo Arqués. Veldman danced with Scapino Ballet, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève and Rambert Dance Company, creating work for all of them, before focusing exclusively on her choreographic career. Among her large-scale works is her much-admired Carmen, made for Northern Ballet in 1999, which has since been restaged by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and the Lithuanian National Ballet. In 2018 she will restage a full evening of two of her works for Ballett Leipzig. Most recently, the pas de deux from See Blue Through was danced at the 2017 Royal Ballet School performances, and she received great acclaim for The Happiness Project for her own Umanoove company. Veldman will work with composer Gabriel Prokofiev.
Arqués has danced with Ballet Victor Ullate in Madrid, and as a soloist with English National Ballet and Dutch National Ballet, where he created Minos in 2010 and Consequence for the 50th anniversary of the company in 2012. Other works include Miniatures for Slovenian National Ballet, Unsound for Compañia Nacional de Danza, Madrid and, most recently, Homo Ludens, again for Dutch National Ballet. Arqués is currently working on four new creations for different international companies in Europe during 2017-18.
Arqués’ composer and the designers who will work with all three choreographers will be announced in 2018.