A project in which I scored ballet dancers live has recently been released. The aim of Dance Unstuck (danceunstuck.co.uk) is to explore to what degree a ‘universal’ approach (informed by Universal Design of Instruction) and teaching methodologies developed for inclusive technique classes could be applied to the highly codified genre of ballet, thereby making it accessible to a wider diversity of dancers. The way of working was totally new to me as I was asked to compose as the dancers danced. This is such a worthy project and I am very grateful to have been asked to take part.
I have just made the soundtrack to the ballet ‘Cinderella’, which was commissioned by Ballet Cymru, available here. It was such a pleasure to work on music for a whole production and I hope you enjoy listening to it.
I have just finished working on a very worthwhile and interesting project. In partnership with GDance and Ballet Cymru, the fantastic choreographer Jürg Koch was asked to produce a DVD for dance teachers to use as a reference tool for teaching dance to people with movement restrictions. Usually music exists before it is used for choreography, however in this case I was asked to compose as the dancers learned and rehearsed their exercises. This meant that the process was immediate and energising. The dancers (Krystal Lowe, Robbie Moorcroft, Vicky Malin, Suzie Birchwood) were amazing and made me feel very unfit sitting down for most of the day! The DVD is in production now and I will put up more information about it when it is released.
So it’s fair to say that I was a little more than excited for the premiere of ‘Cinderella’ with Ballet Cymru on the 8th this month. I had been working hard to complete the score and finish the production on time. I had not really had chance to watch much of the dancing until the week before the production. I was absolutely stunned watching the final performances. Everything worked together brilliantly, and the critics agreed. Jemma Beggs in the Wales Art Review called the score ‘wonderful’. Mike Smith, writing in the Western Mail, gave the show a 5-star review and comments: ‘The dance is swept along by an instantly accessible atmospheric score, so catchy that it seems familiar as if it has been accompanying this ballet for decades rather than a fresh piece of writing’. I feel particularly proud of this comment, since it validates the hard work I put into creating a score that had to be traditional and innovative in the same respect. Similar praise is awarded to the choreographers and collaborative partners in this review: ‘This Cinders is the complete package. The dancing is full of character and style while Darius James and Amy Doughty’s choreography is packed with pulsating invention melded with traditional elegance and refinement’. And above all the dancers should feel amazingly proud of what they have achieved. Cinderella continues to tour next month. Check out http://welshballet.co.uk/whats-on/tour-dates for a complete list.
I have been very impressed this evening watching a run-through of ‘Cinderella’ with Ballet Cymru – wow guys, you were amazing! Darius James and Amy Doughty have done an excellent job of telling this magical and timeless story. I also watched as James Doyle-Roberts of Citrus Arts worked with the dancers on perfecting certain circus skills in the piece. The aerial work is looking especially impressive and fitting well with the overall narrative. Tickets for the opening performances are nearly sold out so be quick if you want to be at the Riverfront next week for the premiere!
It was great fun to see some of the advertising that is being conducted around Ballet Cymru’s new production of Cinderella. The first performances in the Riverfront Theatre will be on the 8th and 9th of May this year. I notice that there is already 12 more venues around the country booked after this initial production! I have been composing the music from the end of last year and think that it will be quite an experience watching it set to ballet. If you are thinking of joining us for the performances my advice is to act quickly: Saturday night’s performance has nearly sold out already. If you go to http://welshballet.co.uk/productions/cinderella/ there is a complete list of performances with links to the tickets.
On the 27th-28th of September, audiences who attended the performances in Cardiff’s Millennium Centre were able to watch the team’s final adaptation of ‘Stuck In The Mud’. Having appeared previously in Swansea and Llandudno, this venue’s performance was similarly well-attended and warmly received. I have just finished putting videos of the performances onto my Youtube channel, so either click the picture above or use the tab at the top of the screen to be taken directly to the media.
Last weekend saw the fantastic LLAWN02 Festival, in Llandudno. I have included some pictures of Gdance and Ballet Cymru’s performance of ‘Stuck In The Mud’ (photos copyright: Andy Birchwood). Audiences enjoyed the quality of the dancing and the inclusive nature of the project. The project, imagined by Marc Brew, is one which brings disabled and able-bodied dancers together in creative collaboration, exploring new possibilities of movement and drama. This coming weekend, 27th and 28th September, the production will be coming to Cardiff. Anyone interested in watching this work should make their way down to the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay this weekend. Performances are at 12pm and 3pm and are completely FREE!
The performers and creative team have already arrived in North Wales, prior to this weekend’s performances of ‘Stuck In The Mud’. The performances will begin in Llandudno train station at 11.45am and 2.45pm on Saturday and Sunday, and will be completely FREE! I will share more pictures of the festival in the next few weeks, but in the meantime click on the picture to check out the LLAWN02 website.
I am very pleased to announce that next year I will be writing a new ballet for Ballet Cymru. It will be a re-telling of the story ‘Cinderella’, in a style that is under development at the moment. I look forward to working with Darius James and Amy Doughty on this project and creating a new score for this magical and iconic story. This new work will be premiered in May 2015, and I will be posting more information about the progress of this project as it occurs (now, where did I put my keys to the pumpkin?)…