News: Ballet Directors gather in rural Hertfordshire

Wednesday 12 January 2005

Twenty six Artistic Directors of ballet companies from around the globe spent last weekend together in Hertfordshire on the 2nd Rural Retreat: Ballet into the 21st century. Their discussions focussed on the state of ballet and its future.

Rural Retreats, produced by DanceEast, has created an international peer group of Artistic Directors committed to the development and future of ballet, drawn from four continents. Collectively, they are responsible for budgets totalling over £163m, for thousands of jobs and for companies that together perform to audiences of over four million people every year in theatres every year in addition to television, video relays and extensive education and outreach programmes. All have a mission to enhance the culture of their communities and affirm the power of dance in transforming lives and in communicating across boundaries. Every company plays an important role in international exchange and cooperation.

The Artistic Directors recognised that today the art form has evolved beyond stereotypical images of ballet. They agreed that high quality training of professional dancers is essential to the future of ballet companies and the art form. At a reception to mark the end of the Retreat at the House of Commons on Monday, it was announced that the gathering had agreed to:

- Communicate to governments, funding bodies, opinion formers and the broader community, the value, creativity and vitality of ballet and its relevance to today’s society;

- Work in partnership with other companies and organisations to campaign for increased investment in the creative process;

- Give priority to the career development and well-being of dancers.

The Artistic Directors also acknowledged the critical situation in Scandinavian and other countries where the development of the art form is hindered by statutory practices and structures.

This was the second Rural Retreat produced by DanceEast. Initiated in January 2003, the Directors acknowledged the unique opportunity for exchange and valued the breadth of experience represented at the meeting and the depth of discussion in which they were engaged. The Artistic Directors agreed to meet again in January 2007 and will work with DanceEast on the planning of the next Retreat.

Artistic Directors who attended Rural Retreats: Ballet into the 21st century were: John Alleyne (Ballet British Columbia, Canada, Reid Anderson (Stuttgart Ballet), Mark Baldwin (Rambert Dance Company), Kathryn Bennetts (Artistic Director Designate, Royal Ballet of Flanders), David Bintley (Birmingham Royal Ballet), Dinna Bjorn (Finnish National Ballet), Dinko Bogdanic (Croatian National Ballet), Ted Brandsen (Dutch National Ballet), Didier Deschamps (Ballet de Lorraine, France), Espen Giljane (Norwegian National Ballet), Nanette Glushak (Ballet du Capitole, Toulouse, France), Kevin Irving (Goteburg Ballet), Marc Jonkers (Limburg Ballet, The Netherlands) Jonas Kåge (Ballet West), André Lewis (Royal Winnipeg Ballet), Ivan Liska (Bayerisches Staatsballett, Munich), Monica Mason (The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden), David McAllister (Australian Ballet), Mikko Nissinen (Boston Ballet), David Nixon (Northern Ballet Theatre), Madeleine Onne (Royal Swedish Ballet), Ashley Page (Scottish Ballet), Alexei Ratmansky (Bolshoi Ballet), Zhao Ruheng (National Ballet of China), Matz Skoog (English National Ballet), Stanton Welch (Houston Ballet).

This Rural Retreat was facilitated by Professor Christopher Bannerman (Head of the Centre for Research into Creation in the Performing Arts (ResCen) at Middlesex University) and Sue Hoyle (Deputy Director of the Clore Leadership Programme) with and guest speakers Nicholas Hytner, Director of the National Theatre and Gail Rebuck (Chief Executive of Random House Group).

Press links

Ashley Page and Monica Mason give feedback to Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian, 11 Jan

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