Gabriel Prokofiev is one of the first composers to be chosen by Ballet Now to create a new one-act dance work for Birmingham Royal Ballet. The London-based composer, DJ and founder of the NONCLASSICAL record label and club night will work with the Dutch choreographer Didy Veldman as part of a new programme which handpicks outstanding artists in a bid to grow the pool of talent available to ballet companies worldwide.
Prokofiev is no stranger to dance. He composed a score for full orchestra and live electronics for Katarzyna Kozielska’s Dark Glow, which was premiered by Stuttgart Ballet earlier this year. He has also worked on several occasions with acclaimed choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh, with their most recent collaboration, Bayadère: The Ninth Life, being revived at Sadler’s Wells last month. In addition, his music has been used by choreographers Karole Armitage and Cathy Marston.
But Ballet Now’s commission will give Prokofiev the opportunity to work with a choreographer and designer from the outset, creating his first dance piece for a large company on a large stage and receiving an individual mentoring plan in the process. He will also benefit from his music receiving the maximum amount of exposure. Ballet Now expects its work to attract audiences of more than 15,000 people per year, with each ballet to be performed at both the Birmingham Hippodrome and Sadler’s Wells, to diverse audiences over multiple evenings.
Ballet Now, funded by Oak Foundation, is being spearheaded by Birmingham Royal Ballet in association with Sadler’s Wells, and aims to create two new one-act ballets per year, for five years. Each work will provide a collaborative opportunity for a choreographer, composer and designer, all chosen by a Creative Consortium comprising experts from across the world of ballet. This panel, which will also be responsible for ensuring each artist is mentored and supported creatively, includes the composer Sally Beamish, and David Bintley and Koen Kessels – Director and Music Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet.
So far, two composers and three choreographers have been announced. The other composer, Sarah Kirkland Snider, will collaborate with the English choreographer George Williamson on a work to be performed as part of the In the Upper Room mixed programme next summer. The third choreographer is Juanjo Arqués, who previously danced with English National Ballet. All three choreographers, says Ballet Now producer Abigail Reeve, bring with them ‘fresh outlooks and ideas which will excite audiences across the world’.