This June, Birmingham Royal Ballet performs the world premiere of Arcadia at Birmingham Hippodrome, as part of a mixed programme alongside Michael Corder’s Le Baiser de la fee and John Cranko’s ever popular Pineapple Poll.
Choreographed by Birmingham Royal Ballet First Artist Ruth Brill, designed by Atena Ameri – exceptional student from Birmingham School of Acting – and accompanied by a striking new score from renowned saxophonist John Harle, this brand new work unleashes the Ancient Greek god Pan in all his glory and complexity.
Arcadia was born when David Bintley (Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet) mentioned John Harle’s beautiful music to Ruth Brill, hoping that it would inspire her. After watching a sample of her initial work, David Bintley commissioned Ruth to choreograph Arcadia. Ruth comments, “It is rare for an artistic director to trust a young choreographer with such an important commission. I’ve learnt so much from David throughout this process and it’s an honour to continue the choreographic legacy of Birmingham Royal Ballet.”
Ruth is no stranger to choreographing for diverse and exciting projects, but Arcadia represents her biggest challenge to date. As she explains, “So much of this experience has been completely new to me, so it’s really been a case of learning as I go. I enjoy the collaborative process, building relationships with people and then pulling all the elements together. It’s an amazing feeling to see my vision come to life on stage.”
Arcadia’s young, vibrant creative team is typified by designer Atena Ameri. When Birmingham Royal Ballet invited Birmingham School of Acting students to design their brand-new ballet, Atena stood out due to her exceptional portfolio. She has taken a year out of her degree to design Arcadia and gain valuable experience of the theatre industry. A talented artist, Atena has developed a unique style for the Arcadia designs, characterised by an expressive use of colour and texture inspired by nature.
Atena’s costume designs have been created by the in-house costume department at Birmingham Royal Ballet, assisted by renowned ballet costumiers Parkinson Gill. Head of Costume Elaine Garlick explains, “It’s been a really good exercise in allowing people to gain experience whilst being mentored by Parkinson Gill, who really are experts in their field. We want to invest in people who want to live in Birmingham, making sure they have access to the correct training to develop their skills to a national, or even international, level.”
Arcadia’s young creative team have been pushing the boundaries, working with scale and ambition rarely seen in a one-act ballet. This world premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome represents an exciting new opportunity for the artistic talents of the future. As Ruth Brill comments, “We need to push the boundaries, form new collaborations and engage the next generation with the arts. Creating Arcadia has been a learning curve for me, but art is about exploring; you shouldn’t always feel safe. We need platforms to push new choreographers, designers and composers – the leaders of the next generation.”