The term “British Icons” in the context of ballet doesn’t refer to a specific ballet production but could be used to describe a program or series of works by British choreographers or ballets that have become iconic within British ballet. The United Kingdom has a rich ballet tradition, with several prominent companies known for their contributions to the art form. When considering ballet productions or programs that could be associated with “British Icons,” a few key institutions and their notable choreographies come to mind:
The Royal Ballet: Based in London’s Royal Opera House, The Royal Ballet is one of the world’s leading ballet companies and has been home to many iconic British ballets and choreographers. Works by Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan, for example, are often considered quintessentially British, with ballets like Ashton’s “La Fille mal gardée” and MacMillan’s “Mayerling” and “Manon” being key parts of the company’s repertoire.
Birmingham Royal Ballet: This company, based in Birmingham, England, also has a repertoire rich in British ballets, including those by its founding choreographer, Sir Peter Wright, known for his productions of “The Nutcracker” and “Giselle,” which are staples in the British ballet repertoire.
English National Ballet: The English National Ballet, another major company based in London, performs a wide range of classical and contemporary works, including iconic British ballets. Under the leadership of directors like Tamara Rojo, the company has also commissioned new works that could become future British icons.
Rambert: Although more commonly associated with contemporary dance, Rambert (formerly Rambert Dance Company) has a history intertwined with British ballet and has contributed significantly to the dance landscape in the UK. It has commissioned and performed works by British choreographers that have been influential in the development of dance in the country.
Sadler’s Wells: As a leading dance venue in London, Sadler’s Wells is not a ballet company but has been instrumental in presenting and producing ballet and dance works by British and international choreographers, often showcasing contemporary pieces that could be considered iconic.
When discussing “British Icons” in ballet, it’s more about the collective contributions of these companies and others to the British ballet scene, rather than a single production named “British Icons.” Each company has its own legacy of performing and preserving works by British choreographers that have shaped the identity of British ballet.
In the United States, the concept of “British Icons” in ballet would typically refer to the influence of British choreography and dancers within American ballet companies or special programs dedicated to celebrating British contributions to the art form. American ballet companies often include works by renowned British choreographers in their repertoires, showcasing the impact of British ballet on the international stage. Some examples include:
American Ballet Theatre (ABT): ABT has included works by British choreographers in its repertoire, such as Sir Frederick Ashton and Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Ashton’s “The Dream,” based on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and MacMillan’s “Manon” are examples of British ballets that have been performed by ABT.
New York City Ballet (NYCB): While NYCB is primarily known for its association with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, it has also performed works by British choreographers. For example, Christopher Wheeldon, a British choreographer, was the NYCB’s Resident Choreographer and has created numerous works for the company.
San Francisco Ballet (SFB): SFB has a diverse repertoire that includes works by British choreographers. For instance, it has performed “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “The Winter’s Tale,” both choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.
Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB): Based in Seattle, PNB has also featured works by British choreographers, including pieces by Christopher Wheeldon among others, showcasing the versatility and depth of British choreographic talent.
Houston Ballet: Houston Ballet has performed “Mayerling,” a narrative ballet choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, demonstrating the company’s commitment to presenting complex, dramatic works by British choreographers.
These American ballet companies, among others, contribute to the promotion and celebration of British ballet in the United States through their performances of works by British choreographers. Special programs dedicated to British ballet or choreographers may be presented as part of a season’s offerings, highlighting the influence and contributions of British artists to the global ballet repertoire.