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Ballet turns to film-makers to dance online during lockdown at English National’s City Island studios

PUBLISHED: 12:04 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 12:10 09 November 2020

Collaboration between choreographgers and film-makers puts English National Ballet online during lockdown. Picture: ENB

Collaboration between choreographgers and film-makers puts English National Ballet online during lockdown. Picture: ENB

ENB

The troubled English National Ballet which was hit by the Covid lockdown barelely six months after moving to its new east London studios has turned to the film-making industry to launch an online video platform for its productions.

Ballet goes online with theatres closed to live performances. Picture: Piers-AllardyceBallet goes online with theatres closed to live performances. Picture: Piers-Allardyce

The on-demand venture gives access to ballet with world-class productions to rent as well as ballet-based classes for the home on subscription.

It has world premieres of five pieces created for a new digital season throughout November and December.

“We have been able to collaborate with film-makers in the challenges of 2020,” the company’s artistic director Tamara Rojo said.

“The film-makers are working with our choreographers, sharing and blending their artistry, to create five very diverse films.”

Ballet classes at all levels from beginners to professional now on English National's online subscription platform. Picture: ENBBallet classes at all levels from beginners to professional now on English National's online subscription platform. Picture: ENB

The company now based at its new City Island HQ at Leamouth, near Canary Wharf, received £3million from the government last month to get back on its dancing feet after the devastating six-month coronavirus crisis.

It had to furlough 85 per cent of its dancers and staff because of the crisis which hit the new studio complex opened a year ago.

Many productions were scrapped because of theatre closures with the company losing two-thirds of its income.

But turning to the film industry could pull it through, making productions available online.

Technical gallery at English National's new City Island HQ near Canary Wharf now being used to make ballet film productions. Picture: Mike BrookeTechnical gallery at English National's new City Island HQ near Canary Wharf now being used to make ballet film productions. Picture: Mike Brooke

Choreographer Arielle Smith has worked with film-maker Amy Becker-Burnett on the old movie musical-inspired Jolly Folly, while Stina Quagebeur collaborated with Shaun Grant on Take Five Blues, based on Bach’s Vivace and Paul Desmond’s jazz standard Take Five.

Russell Maliphant has teamed up with Michael Nunn and William Trevitt on a piece which uses “light as an integral partner”.

Two choreographers have worked with film-maker Thomas James, Sidi Cherkaoui on Laid in Earth and Yuri Possokhov on Senseless Kindness based on Grossman’s novel Life and Fate.

Khan’s Giselle, meanwhile, is also online along with the pirate epic Le Corsaire, both recorded for screen, as well as selections from the company’s archives such as Dust, a poignant reflection on the First World War, and La Sylphide romantic ballet.

Classes are available online during lockdown for exercise from home on subscription at different levels, such as technique masterclasses, professional, yoga sessions to complement ballet practice, exercises for small spaces and contemporary dance for beginners.

But the planned return to the stage has had to be put back, with the second lockdown. Five pieces featured in the digital season can’t now go ahead which had been adapted for on-stage performances for socially-distanced audiences at Sadler’s Wells.


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