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Scottish Ballet Unveils Plans Under New Artistic Director

23rd September 2012

Photograph of Scottish Ballet Unveils Plans Under New Artistic Director

Chief Executive Cindy Sughrue and incoming Artistic Director Christopher Hampson unveiled forthcoming plans and aspirations for the future of the company earlier this month..

"As Scotland's national dance company we look forward to enriching, enthusing and engaging with communities, participants and audiences across Scotland and beyond," said Artistic Director Christopher Hampson, who returns to his family roots in Scotland. "We may be the smallest of the national ballet companies in the UK, but like Scotland itself, we're outward-looking and pioneering. Our size and approach means we're adaptable, agile and able. We are excited to be working with a wide range of choreographers that will allow us to broaden the repertoire and produce new work in original ways. Commissioning new work always has been, and will continue to be, the lifeblood of our company."

"Scottish Ballet is proud to be a cultural ambassador of a country with such a unique and exciting identity, and we look forward to further developing this through our work on the world stage," added Chief Executive Cindy Sughrue. "We are in conversation with major international promoters and arts festivals, and we're exploring innovative new ways to present our work. We look forward to revealing further plans soon."

It was announced that, for the first time, Scottish Ballet will present the work of five-time Olivier Award-winning choreographer Matthew Bourne OBE - a coup that grants the company an exclusive license to Matthew's Highland Fling in an unprecedented move by the choreographer. Inspired by La Sylphide, and with a wickedly wry contemporary Scotch twist, Highland Fling follows the antics of James - a young Scot with sex, love and rock-and-roll on his mind. On the eve of his marriage to his beloved Effie, his addiction to excess finds him in the fateful company of a beguiling gothic fairy who leads him on a downward spiral into a weird and wonderful world far from the realities of life on the mean streets of Glasgow. Scottish Ballet will tour Highland Fling across Scotland in spring 2013. Please see Editors Notes for full listings.

While Artistic Director Christopher Hampson's primary role is to curate - composing repertoire from the widest field - his creative leadership will also see the company embark on a new way of storytelling that will embrace the imagination of the people of Scotland and beyond. Beginning in autumn 2012, Scottish Ballet will launch Hansel & Gretel, and Me: an exciting new project that connects creation to education and merges artistic expression with real life, giving communities the chance to participate in ballet in the broadest possible sense.

Scottish Ballet will work with schools, colleges, and partners including the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, acclaimed author Louise Welsh and Forestry Commission Scotland amongst others to generate ideas based on the classic Hansel & Gretel themes of loss, fear, betrayal, family, and much more, stretching from past to present. Each aspect will come together to inspire the world premiere of Christopher's first choreography for the company and the first ever large-scale professional, full-length ballet production of Hansel & Gretel. Touring to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Belfast and Newcastle in winter 2013/14. Hansel & Gretel promises a deliciously surreal, mouth-wateringly inventive festive treat that offers, in true Scottish Ballet style, a magical and innovative twist on one of the most famous fairytales of all time. Please see Editors Notes for full listings and a detailed breakdown of the Hansel & Gretel, and Me project.

Plans to engage with choreographers both new and established (all with an exciting, visionary dance vocabulary) were further revealed to include a number of significant female voices: California's Helen Pickett - ex-dancer with Forsythe's Ballet Frankfurt and a choreographer renowned for her energetic, yet poetic creations; Canada's award-winning Crystal Pite - Associate Choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater and Artistic Director of Kidd-Pivot, an inter-disciplinary performing arts company based in Vancouver; and Royal Ballet Soloist Kristen McNally - an exciting, fresh and cutting-edge choreographer in ballet whom the term 'indie ballet' could have been coined as she uses contemporary music and cultural references to engage young, new-to-ballet audiences.

Scottish Ballet also announced that it was to be among the first to commission a brand-new work from 22-year-old London Contemporary Dance School graduate James Cousins, the winner of the inaugural New Adventures Choreographer Award, set up by director and choreographer Matthew Bourne OBE, and co-judged by Scottish Ballet's new Artistic Director Christopher Hampson.

Scottish Ballet further revealed that it would continue to broaden its repertoire of established, classic and contemporary masters with future acquisitions including amongst others an additional work from Sir Kenneth MacMillan. The company also expressed further intentions to pay respect to the visionary talent of its founding Artistic Director Peter Darrell CBE with the re-introduction of significant Darrell works into the repertoire, revealing that it has recently restaged sections of Darrell's Chri for a special BBC Scotland documentary to be shown later this year commemorating the 25th anniversary of the choreographer's death.

Scottish Ballet also announced future plans to develop creative workshops that will allow the company to work with a number of artists and innovators across diverse platforms, as well as professional development and choreographic opportunities for the dancers of the company and the wider dance community. Future hopes to re-establish Scottish Ballet 2 (SB2) - a smaller offshoot of the professional company - were also outlined in what could be an extraordinary opportunity to work for a year 'under the wing' of the national company, sharing learning and performing in a route to further establish Scottish Ballet's connection with the dancers and choreographers of the future. Artistic Director Christopher Hampson stated that he was looking forward to developing a closer relationship with the BA Modern Ballet of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, by engaging students in opportunities to work with visiting choreographers and teachers at Scottish Ballet. It was also announced that Scottish Ballet, in partnership with the Royal Academy of Dance and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, will present the Gene International Ballet Competition in Glasgow in 2013 from 20- 29 September.

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