Scottish Ballet’s new director gets off to a fairytale start

Picture: Jayne Wright
Picture: Jayne Wright
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HIGHLAND FLING – the reworking of the classic ballet Sylphide – will be one of the highlights of the Scottish Ballet season.

The announcement that Scottish Ballet now has exclusive rights to Matthew Bourne’s rock and roll, gothic fairytale was made by the new artistic director of the company Christopher Hampson yesterday.

Mr Hampson also announced plans for a new work based on the story of Hansel and Gretel – his first full-length choreography for the company and the first large-scale ballet to be based on the fairytale.

The new artistic director said the small size of the national company does not limit its ambition.

“We may be the smallest of the national ballet companies in the UK but, like Scotland itself, we’re outward-looking and pioneering,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Hampson also announced plans to commission a new work from 22-year-old London Contemporary Dance School graduate James Cousins, the winner of the inaugural New Adventures Choreographer Award.

And he revealed a desire to broaden the company’s repertoire of established and contemporary masters with acquisitions including an additional work from Sir Kenneth MacMillan. The company also plans to honour its founding artistic director Peter Darrell with the reintroduction of his works into its repertoire. Touring across the country from next spring, The Scotsman dance critic Kelly Apter said she thought Highland Fling would be a great hit with audiences nationwide.

“I’m a little disappointed that the first work we’ll see from Scottish Ballet under Hampson’s leadership is a show we’ve already seen in Scotland in the past eight years.

“But Highland Fling is one of Matthew Bourne’s most enjoyable works, and resolutely Scottish, so will be very popular with audiences and no doubt get everybody on-side for the road ahead.

“It’s good to see Hampson creating something new for the company’s 2013 Christmas season [Hansel and Gretel], and that he has lots of interesting choreographers lined up to work with the company in the future.”

The company plans to collaborate with Californian choreographer Helen Pickett, Canadian Crystal Pite and Royal Ballet soloist Kristen McNally, who uses contemporary music and cultural references to create what has been called “Indie Ballet”.

The Hansel and Gretel ballet will tour Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness over winter 2013-14 and promises to be “a deliciously surreal, mouth-wateringly festive inventive treat”.

Mr Hampson will work with author Louise Welsh and is inviting contributions from schools and colleges to generate ideas around the fairytale themes of loss, fear, betrayal and family.

Chief executive Cindy Sughru said: “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.”