Ballet Cymru Update
We wanted to take this opportunity to update our friends and supporters on the decisions and activities Ballet Cymru have been making since the start of this global pandemic.
As many of you know, we are a small organisation with big (and we think realistic) ambition. Ballet Cymru has been running at full capacity for a number of years and, as a result, we have been trying to build on our resilience and resources. While this has been no easy feat, particularly through the current climate, we also recognize that being small at this time has its benefits. Ballet Cymru are fortunate to employ an excellent and dedicated team and as each position has been essential to the continual running and organization of Ballet Cymru during this time we have not furloughed any of our five full-time staff. We are extremely grateful to our funders who have helped enable this.
We have been running a daily online digital platform since the 30th March consisting of tutorials, screening, interviews, take-overs and much more. All can be viewed on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCusHNEiSVMvyNaYLIWtmWOg
At the beginning of lockdown our 9 professional dancers were in Newport ready to begin a rehearsal period for our new ballet, Giselle, to be choreographed by Darius James OBE and Amy Doughty with a new composed score by Catrin Finch. As a result of lockdown Ballet Cymru utilized our professional dancers to help deliver our online digital platform. We thought this would be a good way to keep our dancers and staff motivated, positive and creative. And our professional dancers have been amazing! Their contributions towards the digital platform have been insightful, funny, clever, creative and we hope given viewers an understanding into the life and minds of our professional dancers. We cannot thank them enough. We also, of course, were hopeful that our digital work might offer you, our friends and supporters, ways to keep positive, strong and smiling.
We now find ourselves in the position where our whole sector is severely under threat. Our theatres and freelancers especially. With a heavy heart we have now cancelled all of our performances until May 2021. Of course, this is a huge loss for Ballet Cymru, not only in the incredible loss of income this results in but also in the realization that as of the end of June we could no longer offer contracts to 5 of our freelance dancers. This has caused Amy and Darius great sadness. Our priority needs to be on the survival of Ballet Cymru so that we can hopefully, beyond Covid19, help rebuild our sector and support more freelance dancers, choreographers, musicians, lighting designers, costume makers, dance practitioners/teachers and creatives.
From July, Ballet Cymru will retain four of our professional dancers to help deliver our education activities throughout the Summer and Autumn. This will be a combination of online, zoom and on-site projects (government guidelines depending). They will also be delivering our Wales Summer Dance courses and Wales International Ballet Summer School online which presents us with many technical challenges but a huge opportunity to reach further and wider. We have some great guest teachers lined up for these courses too. This dance education/training season is further developing our Ballet Cymru Education Company which, eventually, all of our education and outreach activities will fall under.
We have continued to provide on-line tuition, exciting challenges and videos for our Ballet Cymru Associate dancers as well as on-line training, tuition and activities with our Duets scholars and partners involving NEW Dance, Jukebox Collective, Dawns I Bawb, Impelo and Arts Care Gofal Celf. And when it is safe for us to return to our partner schools, we will be there like a shot!
We are aiming for a Research and Development period during this November, using a small cohort of our professional dancers, to start developing work for Giselle (to premiere in May 2021). Of course, this may need to be achieved through social distancing and we are observing government recommendations closely. But to have an opportunity to be creative in the studio feels vital – we need to flex those creative muscles!
The Black Lives Matter movement is giving us opportunity to educate ourselves and we hope to move forward with better insight and understanding, and with a stronger focus than ever on inclusion, equality and diversity. #WeShallNotBeRemoved also highlights the importance of inclusion in dance and the arts and demonstrates the huge array of talent we have in Wales and beyond from D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled artists and creatives. During the Autumn, Ballet Cymru will be receiving Equality Training, Anti-Racism Training, Mental Health First Aid Training and Welsh Language Training. We will also be using this time to develop new areas within Ballet Cymru, primarily digital exploration and our capabilities with this. We aim to implement plans which will hopefully see Ballet Cymru take bold steps towards becoming the inclusive national ballet company for Wales.
Lastly, we will continue to provide opportunities to learn about Ballet Cymru through our social media channels. We hope you enjoy engaging with us this way until we can see you once again at our live shows or studio. Please stick with us – we are doing everything we can to once more return to the theatres and see all of our wonderful participants, supporters and friends again. If you are in a position to, please consider donating to Ballet Cymru. No matter how big or small, every penny donated brings us one step closer to the company we strive to be.