Birmingham Royal Ballet Presents Two Ballets Fuelled By Power And Politics
This October, Birmingham Royal Ballet bring a dramatic mixed bill to Birmingham Hippodrome with two ballets that evoke the politics and power of the past to explore the present, performed by the company’s world-class dancers to live music from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
In The King Dances Director David Bintley casts a modern eye back to the very beginnings of ballet; a time when men were the kings of dance. Inspired by ballet’s very first steps, an all-male ensemble displays a unique kind of virtuosity in this powerful and compelling piece. The King Dances was the subject of the BBC documentary ‘The King Who Invented Dance’, presented by David Bintley, and received a National Dance Award in 2015.
The programme is completed by Ignite, a world premiere from award-winning choreographer Juanjo Arqués, which is currently being created in Birmingham.
Juanjo Arqués’s inspiration for Ignite comes from Willian Turner’s famous painting ‘The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons’. When describing the painting, Arques commented: “The centre of the work is the fire, but what also got my attention is the reflections on the water, the colours and also the crowd watching the fire with a feeling of awe; it’s a spectacle of fear but, at the same time, beauty. That was the starting point, and then everything else has evolved with my artistic team.”
Ignite features an exciting new score from Kate Whitley (co-founder of The Multi-Story Orchestra). Kate, who is composing for dance for the first time, commented: “It has been a really rewarding collaborative process which began with Juanjo explaining his initial ideas for the piece, and then me sharing the music as it developed. It has been a great opportunity to really understand each other’s ways of working, which is always what I enjoy most about collaboration across different disciplines.”
Describing the steps she has taken to turn a painting into music, Kate continued: “The piece doesn’t take a literal approach to translating the painting into music and dance, but is inspired by the colours and shapes in the original image. We created a structure of three parts – Fire, Reflection, and Burn – and talked about the themes and meanings in the painting to inspire each section.”
A painting depicting the Houses of Parliament on fire has some obvious political connotations, but can audiences expect to see these in the finished piece? Juanjo explained: “I like to connect my works to our society today, and I see this painting in relation to now. We are living in a society where politically we are very unstable; almost a society that needs to be redefined. I don’t want to make a political statement; I’m just reflecting what I think the painting is saying. Perhaps the audience will see Ignite in their own way and translate this historical political situation to today.”
Ignite is the second Ballet Now commission – Birmingham Royal Ballet’s pioneering talent development programme which brings together choreographers, composers and designers to create ten new ballets over five years.
This thrilling ballet receives its world premiere, alongside The King Dances, at Birmingham Hippodrome on Wednesday 3 October as part of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Fire & Fury mixed programme.
The King Dances
Choreography: David Bintley
Music: Stephen Montague
Designs: Katrina Lindsay
Lighting: Peter Mumford
Choreography: Juanjo Arqués
Music: Kate Whitley
Designs: Tatyana Van Walsum
Lighting: Bert Dalhuysen
Dramaturg: Fabienne Vegt