Sadler’s Wells, London
A varied bill skipped from the gorgeous classicism of Michael Corder’s Le Baiser de la fée to the exotic carnival of dancing animals in David Bintley’s Still Life at the Penguin Cafe
Ballet, like the novel, has been pronounced dead – or terminally exhausted – at regular intervals throughout its history, and now, as the art form squares up to the challenges of the 21st-century box office, companies are competitively scenting out fresh blood and fresh ideas. However, the institutionalised nature of ballet and the conservatism of some of its traditions can make it difficult for young talent to flourish, let alone find recognition. So it’s hats off to Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sadler’s Wells for their scheme to commission 10 new works over a five year period, bringing together choreographers, composers and designers who are new or relatively new to the mainstream of British ballet.
No one could quarrel with the fine, hopeful principles of the Ballet Now programme. Yet the detail is critical. Nurturing talent is a sensitive business, and the new ballet with which BRB have chosen to launch their scheme illustrates both how tricky, and how necessary, the process can be.