Dancer Ruth Brill talks choreographing for Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadler’s Wells
PUBLISHED: 14:00 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:43 30 October 2017
Copyright © 2011 Tim Cross
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin is at Sadler’s Wells October 31 – November 2. The triple bill of Arcadia, Le Baiser de la fée and ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café is November 3 – 4
There are so many exciting developments in ballet, but sometimes it can be difficult to draw people in to see works they don’t know already, says dancer Ruth Brill.
“So often it’s a challenge for ballet companies,” she says. “People often only go and see Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, things where they know what they’re going to get.
“I’ve danced at Sadler’s Wells quite a lot and it’s a great place to dance, there’s so much going on, it’s an exciting place to be, and to dance for an audience that I think is an educated audience in dance. But also people come and take risks and see things that are new.”
Brill is a First Artist and choreographer at the Birmingham Royal Ballet, formerly the Sadler’s Wells resident company, which brings their Aladdin tour to the Islington venue, as well as a mixed programme of three shows: Le Baiser de la fee, ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café and Arcadia.
“There is such an important part of art that is in taking risks, going to see new things, which is why it’s fantastic that yes, we can do our full length Aladdin which is a fantastic family ballet, but we’re also doing a triple bill.”
Le Baiser de la fée, with music by Stravinsky is choreographed by Michael Corder, while ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, in which Brill has danced herself, is choreographed by artistic director David Bintley.
Arcadia is Brill’s own work, a twenty minute long piece based on the ancient Greek mythological satyr Pan and his transformation from narcissistic god to becoming a better man and ruler.
“Being a choreographer it isn’t simply about making steps in the studio, it’s about building relationships with people. Obviously I’ve been working on this piece since its first moment, so two years really. Working with the composer, the music began life as just a trio for saxophone, violin and piano. We’ve rewritten the final scene and it was completely re-orchestrated for the full Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
“It really has been a long process, and as the choreographer I’ve found myself very much at the centre of it all. It’s been my vision and all these other collaborators have been so hugely important in that. It’s a big group effort, but I’ve loved it.”
Growing up in Kent, Brill began dancing for fun when she was very young, going to ballet classes with friends in the village. Every weekend she’d go to London to take Royal Ballet associate classes.
“It was a lot of time and effort but because I loved it so much it never felt like a sacrifice for me. It just meant that I had to be disciplined with my time and get my homework done when I had a window to do that. It just happened naturally really.”
She trained vocationally from the age of 16 – “Some kids train from earlier but I very much wanted to keep my academics going.”
After doing GCSEs, Ruth went into full time training at Tring Park school, before the English National Ballet School and graduated into the English National Ballet company.
“I danced there for five years and then came over to take a job at Birmingham Royal Ballet. I came over primarily as a dancer, I had this dream to choreograph but, as a dancer, it’s really hard work so you have to focus on that, and yet when I came to BRB, there was a choreographic workshop and I decided to make a work and it all came form there.”
After making an informal piece for the workshop, she was commissioned to choreograph another work for the gala that year and the next. One of those works was taken on tour with the company.
“I’m taking all of the opportunities I can at the moment, you know, trying to pave the way to making a transition, but I am fully dancing as well – juggling it all! I recently made a work for the National Ballet, and the Rugby World Cup. We did a flash mob in the Bullring which was a community outreach project, so lots of different kinds of things. But Arcadia is the big one.”
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin is at Sadler’s Wells October 31 – November 2. The triple bill of Arcadia, Le Baiser de la fée and ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café is November 3 – 4.