Scottish Ballet

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Peter Darrell (1929—1987)


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Scotland's national ballet company. It was originally founded in 1957 as the Western Theatre Ballet by Peter Darrell and Elizabeth West. It operated from Bristol (it was the first regionally based British ballet company) but toured extensively, aiming to create new audiences by focusing on the dramatic elements of ballet. Darrell, who gradually became its chief choreographer (and sole director after West's death in 1962), experimented with a wide range of sometimes controversial material—domestic drama, homosexuality, murder—often collaborating with playwrights and theatre producers. His early works included The Prisoners (1957), Mods and Rockers (1963) which was the first Beatles ballet, and also Britain's first full-length ballet with a contemporary setting, Sun into Darkness (1966). Also in the repertoire were other dramatic works like Béjart's Sonate à trois and MacMillan's Las Hermanas. Surviving near-bankruptcy in its early years, the company gained an international profile at various festivals during the 1960s and in 1969 was invited by the Scottish Arts Council to form the basis of a national ballet company for Scotland. Renamed Scottish Theatre Ballet, it attempted to marry its commitment to experimental work with the need to incorporate popular classics into the repertoire, though it inevitably became less pioneering in style. In 1972 it was renamed Scottish Ballet (with its official school, the Dance School of Scotland, also based in Glasgow). Darrell himself choreographed several full-length populist works for the company, including Beauty and the Beast (1969), Tales of Hoffmann (1972), Mary Queen of Scots (1976), and Cinderella (1979). He remained artistic director until his death in 1987, after which there was a series of temporary replacements until Galina Samsova took on the post in 1991. She increased the emphasis on classics in the repertoire, including her own new production of Swan Lake (1995), and introduced ballets by Balanchine, Robert Cohan, and Mark Baldwin, among others. Samsova resigned in 1997 and after Robert North's brief period as her successor (1999–2002) the company underwent a complete change of style with the appointment of Ashley Page. As artistic director and choreographer his policy has been to expand the company's range by importing both contemporary dance repertory and contemporary dancers. With this dual focus Scottish Ballet performs works by Balanchine, Forsythe, Petronio, Krzysztof Pastor, and Page himself, including radically updated versions of the classics.

http://www.scottishballet.co.uk Website for Scottish Ballet

Subjects: Dance.

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