Make a wish! Scottish Ballet celebrates 50 years

David Mead

Scottish Ballet celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019, and has announced details for the 2019-20 season and of a commissioning programme for new works going forward.

As a way of saying ‘thank you’ for fifty years of support, the company is inviting the people of Scotland to Make a Wish! It can be anything from the dancers performing at a birthday party or on the banks of Loch Ness, or even the chance to get on stage and be part of a Scottish Ballet show. It’s an idea that’s clearly caught the imagination as over 70 wishes were received inside the first 24 hours. But there’s still plenty of time, and anyone can submit their own wish at and, following a public vote and the consideration of the judging panel that includes Susan Calman, Fred MacAulay, Dame Darcey Bussell, Christopher Hampson, Janice Forsyth and principal dancer Christopher Harrison, Scottish Ballet will make five wishes come true throughout 2019.

On stage, the company will launch its 50th year in the Highlands with a celebratory opening of the double bill Spring! at Inverness’ Eden Court on Thursday March 28, followed by a party everyone in the audience is invited to!

Elite Syncopations, part of Spring! double bill. Photo Andy Ross
Elite Syncopations, part of Spring! double bill. Photo Andy Ross

Spring! includes Dextera, a new work by company resident choreographer Sophie Laplane, with music by Mozart performed by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra. Laplane says she wants to kickstart the anniversary season “with an energetic new piece that celebrates the company’s craft.” Dextera is paired with Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s 35-minute long antidote to blues, Elite Syncopations with all its sexy, witty psychedelia and frothy ragtime nonchalance. Following three dates in Inverness, Spring! will tour to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh in April and May 2019.

Reality. Identity. Transformation. After an award-winning inaugural presentation in 2017, the Digital Season, a month-long programme of work created for smart phones, cinema and everything in between, returns for a month-long programme of work. It will feature short films, live streams, virtual reality experiences and digitally driven projects to enhance, alter and inform the way we experience dance. Existing in a society where the real and unreal are one in the same, and artificial intelligence has developed its own human nature, the season explores our grasp of reality, identity, and transformation.

Scottish Ballet presents The CruciblePhoto Nicola Selby
Scottish Ballet presents The Crucible
Photo Nicola Selby

As part of the season, the company’s first digital artist in residence, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom will create bespoke artworks. He says, “This digital residency allows me to delve deeply into a world of new ideas and approaches that I have been itching to develop. Using digital technologies such as 3D scanning and motion capture, I will explore bodily movement and the space between dancers through a range of media. Scottish Ballet is a very rich and exciting environment to work in and I think the Digital Season will reflect that.”

A teenage girl imagines her future. A marriage is tested. Church bells ring, uniting the community in prayer. These are good people; this could be anywhere. They fear the shadows in the forest, but the real monsters are much closer to home. The summer and autumn see Arthur Miller’s masterpiece of power and persecution, The Crucible, transformed into a new ballet with choreography by Helen Pickett to a new score from Peter Salem. Pickett previously created a one-act ballet of the story in 2014, but this full-length production will be almost entirely new and with new music by Peter Salem. The ballet will be premiered at Edinburgh’s Playhouse, opening the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival dance programme before touring to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness in September and October.

Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Nicholas Shoesmith rehearsing Helen Pickett's The CruciblePhoto Andy Ross
Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Nicholas Shoesmith rehearsing Helen Pickett’s The Crucible
Photo Andy Ross

Scottish Ballet’s winter show is to be The Snow Queen. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale (which also inspired Frozen), with a specially adapted score from works by Rimsky Korsakov as designs by Lez Brotherston, the new ballet by Christopher Hampson promises an inspiring story of love and friendship, driven by three central female characters. The Snow Queen will open at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre on Saturday December 7, 2019, then tour to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle. Performances will be accompanied by an extensive community engagement programme in schools and care homes across Scotland.

The Crucible and The Snow Queen will be the first two of five new commissions that make up Five in Five, a programme that will see five new ballets commissioned over five years, one for every decade of the company’s history. The company is seeking to raise £5 million over five years to deliver these five new productions and associated access and engagement programmes.

Marge Hendrick rehearsing Helen Pickett's The CruciblePhoto Andy Ross
Marge Hendrick rehearsing Helen Pickett’s
The Crucible
Photo Andy Ross

CEO and artistic director of Scottish Ballet, Christopher Hampson says, “Scottish Ballet forged new ground in 1969, and we continue to promote Scotland’s pioneering spirit in everything that we do. We embrace our 50th anniversary with an unprecedented programme of new work, affirming our commitment to be one of the most daring dance companies in the world.”


Eden Court, Inverness: March 28-30, 2019
Theatre Royal, Glasgow: April 4-6, 2019
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen: April 11-13, 2019
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh: May 2-4, 2019

The Crucible
Edinburgh Playhouse, August 2019 (precise dates to be announced in March 2019)
Theatre Royal, Glasgow: September 26-28, 2019
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen: October 3-5, 2019
Eden Court, Inverness: October 9-10, 2019

The Snow Queen
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh: December 7-29, 2019
Theatre Royal, Glasgow: January 3-19, 2020
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen: January 22-26, 2020
Eden Court, Inverness: January 29 – February 2, 2020
Theatre Royal, Newcastle: Dates to be confirmed

Priority booking for all productions for Friends of Scottish Ballet is already open.
General sales open on Monday October 22 at, with tickets for The Crucible dates at Edinburgh International Festival available after the Festival’s programme launch in March 2019.