Founded in 1969 and funded by the Scottish Government, Scottish Ballet is known as Scotland’s national dance company.
For while it is based in Glasgow, the company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, performs regularly across Scotland, as well as throughout the UK and internationally – promoting Scotland’s pioneering spirit far and wide.
Under CEO and artistic director Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet presents bold, adventurous performances rooted in strong classical technique, accompanied by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Christopher said: “Scottish Ballet forged new ground in 1969 and we continue to promote Scotland’s pioneering spirit in everything that we do.
“We’re embracing our 50th anniversary with an unprecedented programme of new work, affirming our commitment to be one of the most daring dance companies in the world.”
To kick-start the 50th celebration, the company launched its double bill Spring! at Eden Court in Inverness on Thursday, March 28.
Dextera is a world premiere of a new work by resident choreographer Sophie Laplane, with music by Mozart performed by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
This has been teamed with Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s 35-minute long antidote to blues, Elite Syncopations. MacMillan’s choreography spans the decades, melding 1920s social dances with classical ballet and uses music from ragtime composers as a perfect accompaniment.
Sophie said: “Having immersed myself within Scottish Ballet as a dancer and resident choreographer, I wanted to embody the company’s creativity and hard work by kick-starting the anniversary season with an energetic new piece that celebrates the company’s craft.
“I’m excited to work with Scottish Ballet Orchestra to score Dextera to Mozart, to form a vibrant body of work as part of the Spring! double bill.”
Following three dates in Inverness, Spring! moved to the Theatre Royal in Glasgow and His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen and will end its run at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre from May 2 to May 4.
Of course, a dance company lives by its ability to produce relevant and entertaining work.
In an ambitious new commissioning programme called Five in Five, Scottish Ballet is commissioning and staging five new full-length ballets over the next five years – one for every decade of the company’s history.
Christopher said: “Presenting new work will encourage the company’s existing audiences to keep returning and new audiences to try something different.
“It will also reinforce Scottish Ballet as one of the most daring and pioneering dance companies.”
The world premieres of The Crucible in September and October and The Snow Queen this winter will be the first of the five new commissions.
But the company will need to raise £5 million over five years to deliver the new productions and associated engagement programmes.
Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, said: “As Scotland’s national dance company, Scottish Ballet makes an extraordinary contribution to our cultural landscape so I’m delighted to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
“The company showcases our nation’s creative spirit at its highest level to local and international audiences.
“However, it also delivers some excellent work with health and education partners in communities across Scotland.”
This year will also see Scottish Ballet present its second digital season, with a month-long series of commissioned films, live streams and virtual reality experiences including the work of the company’s first digital artist in residence, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom.
A Glasgow-based sculptor, Zachary uses digital technologies such as 3D scanning, digital 3D modelling and 3D printing to transform traditional sculptural materials such as bronze, marble and ceramic.
He said: “This digital residency allows me to delve deeply into a world of new ideas and approaches that I have been itching to develop.
“Using digital technologies such as 3D scanning and Motion Capture, I will explore bodily movement and the space between dancers through a range of media.
“Scottish Ballet is a very rich and exciting environment to work in and I think the digital season will reflect that.”
Wee Hansel and Gretel, billed as the perfect way for young children and families to discover the magic of ballet, will also tour the country from July to October this year.
Lasting around 50 minutes, the show will not only feature Scottish Ballet dancers but also talented students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
To find out more about this year’s programme, visit www.scottishballet.co.uk/whats-on.