Scottish Ballet’s New Direction

Scottish Ballet’s New Direction
Claire Robertson and Daniel Davidson in William Forsythe’s Workwithinwork.
(Andrew Ross)

“Hansel & Gretel” and a full-length Matthew Bourne ballet will be a part of Scottish Ballet’s new repertoire, announced artistic director Christopher Hampson.

Hampson, who took up the position in August, plans to broaden the company’s range with a selection of newly choreographed work and productions.

“Commissioning new work has been the lifeblood of this company right from its founding director Peter Darrell, and I want to make sure that that remains the lifeblood of this company as we move forward into the next stage,” said Hampson.  

He has secured the exclusive license to stage Matthew Bourne’s production of Highland Fling, which is a nod to the Danish ballet, La Sylphide. This is the first time a full-length Bourne ballet has been staged outside of the choreographer’s own company, New Adventures. Bourne, who has won several awards for his choreographic works, is perhaps most well known for his reinterpretations of classical works, such as “The Nutcracker” and an all-male cast of “Swan Lake”.

Hampson will open the upcoming season with a full-length production of “Hansel & Gretel”, which is scheduled to tour starting from December. The production will incorporate ideas from the community that will be incorporated into the ballet, as well as working with author Louise Welsh and the Forestry Commission of Scotland. The ballet will explore darker themes of fear, loss, and family, which are all apart of the original Brothers Grimm fairytale. “Hansel and Gretel” will mark Hampson’s chorographic debut for the company.

In Hampson’s aggressive approach to broaden the company’s existing repertoire, he will be commissioning a slew of new works. The upcoming season will see a strong female voice with works from Helen Pickette, a former Forsythe dancer with an energetic, yet poetic vocabulary to her work, Crystal Pite, a Canadian who is also stationed at the Nederlands Dans Theatre as their Associate Chorographer, and new British talent, Kristen McNally.

James Cousins, the winner of the inaugural New Adventures Choreography Award, has also been commissioned to create a brand-new work for the company this season. Hampson served as judge for the award and was so impressed by Cousins that he quickly jumped on board to be among the first to commission a new work.

Hampson has also expressed intensions to pay homage to established chorographers such as Sir Kenneth MacMillan and Peter Darrell by re-staging some of their most iconic works.

“We mirror Scotland’s identity in being outward-looking and pioneering in everything we do. Our size and approach means we are adaptable and agile. We will need to be, because I will be bringing to the company a really broad range of choreographic work, which will mean we will have a really wide range of choreographers working with the company,” said Hampson.

Prior to joining the Scottish Ballet, Hampson trained at the Royal Ballet School and was a soloist with English National Ballet before turning his hand to chorography.