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Ballet Now – Birmingham Royal Ballet

Partner story

Photo: © Roy Smiljanic

If the word ballet makes you think of Swan Lake and dancing girls in tutus, think again. Birmingham Royal Ballet, based in the United Kingdom, has established a programme to support choreographers, composers and designers to create new and contemporary ballets for audiences all around the world to enjoy.

Kit Holder is a dancer and choreographer at Birmingham Royal Ballet. In 2007 he created his first work for the company as a choreographer, and has since made three more. He believes that there are many people with great ideas who lack the connections and opportunities to excel. “As an industry we are missing out on all of those talents,” he says.

Contemporary ballet allows for a beautiful expression of our modern times through dance, music and costumes. In a world increasingly driven by profit-making and budget cuts, art in all its forms is being pushed to the outer margins of our communities and lives. Contemporary ballet is no different and has remained in the background, not being as lucrative as well-known big-name classic shows. Ballet Now will provide the support and freedom to champion artistic innovation, risk-taking and new choreographic practice.

Oak Foundation has provided a grant of GBP 1.1 million over five years to fund an exciting new project at Birmingham Royal Ballet called ‘Ballet Now’. The project will support ballet choreographers, composers and designers to create new work. It will give participants the creative freedom, artistic opportunity and career-enhancing knowledge of creating new ballets within a large dance company, for people around the world to enjoy.

“We are passionate about art and this particular art form’s profound impact in the community. We believe that art is essential for communities – it is the glue that binds people together.”

– Geoff Sweeney, development director of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Birmingham Royal Ballet performed to more than 150,000 people in 2015, and to a further 15,000 people through its community outreach projects. As a company, it is committed to developing talents at all levels. It reaches out to disadvantaged young people to provide them with dance training and to help them benefit from the structure and teamwork the dance requires.

“By developing the art form it gives us the opportunity to collectively change people’s lives. Together, we can offer opportunities to step out of the ordinary and into something special. This has untold and far-reaching benefits for all those communities we can reach out to and support, and it leaves a magical touch in their lives.”

– Pearl Chesterman, director of engagement and participation at Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Here is Birmingham Royal Ballet’s website if you would like to find out more. This grant falls under our Special Interest Programme, which supports a wide range of fields, including health, humanitarian relief, education and the arts. Find out more here.

Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report 2016