Zoe Ashe-Browne and Dominic Harrison in Ballet Ireland's Carmen An Insight into Ballet Ireland

Date Thu 29 May 2014

Ireland’s national ballet company and Dance UK member Ballet Ireland was founded in 1998, giving its inaugural performances at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. The company’s aim is to develop a full-time classical ballet company of the highest quality, with a wide-ranging repertoire of international standard, to promote an appreciation of ballet amongst people of all ages and backgrounds.

The company’s latest work – Carmen, created by choreographer in residence Morgann Runacre-Temple – tours to Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio Theatre in London on 3 and 4 June. Dance UK’s Laura spoke to Ballet Ireland General Manager Jeanette Keane, to discuss the importance of creating new work, how a character like Carmen is viewed today, and plans for the future.

What is Ballet Ireland’s ethos?

The company strives to balance classical ballet with new works. It’s very important to create new pieces – such as Carmen – to excite and engage audiences. It’s also exciting for the company dancers too. Ballet Ireland is committed to producing work for future generations.

Tell me about the company’s latest ballet, Carmen.

The ballet has a very gritty, modern and urban feel. It’s been created by Ballet Irelandchoreographer in residence Morgann Runacre-Temple and includes a live flamenco guitarist onstage, playing the score by Rodion Shchedrin.

The ballet really brings out the different aspects of Carmen as a character so that audiences can relate to her. It considers how someone like Carmen would behave and be seen in the world today.

The ballet has a really exciting set – a large wooden box which revolves and opens up in different ways to create different settings. And we have one of our wonderful dancers, Zoe Ashe-Brown, taking the title role.

What type of dancers do you look for at company auditions?

We need dancers that are really flexible. They have to be technically strong, so they are able to perform our classical repertoire, but they also need to be comfortable with more contemporary styles. As we create a lot of new work, it’s important too that they can contribute to the creative process.

Our company works on a project basis, so dancers are freelance and many are based in London or elsewhere in the UK. We often have new dancers but lots come back regularly too – some dancers have been working with us for ten years.

How did choreographer Morgann Runacre-Temple end up working with the company?

Originally,Ballet Ireland Director Anne Maher saw Morgann’s work and really liked it, and Morgann has been working with the company ever since. She’s created a few ballets for us including Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet.

Morgann has a great way of creating narrative ballets and developing interesting characters. She takes classical principals and makes them really fresh and modern in her choreography.

Where does Ballet Ireland usually tour?

We do a lot of touring around Ireland, as we are the country’s national ballet company, as well as the UK. We’ve never been to Sadler’s Wells before so we’re very excited to be performing there. It’s such an iconic venue for dance.

What is Ballet Ireland planning next?

We recently did some research and development for a new piece by choreographer (and Royal Ballet dancer), Ludovic Ondivela. But our next ballet will be Swan Lake – we’re doing a 26 venue tour throughout Ireland.

For more information about and booking for Carmen in London, visit www.balletireland.ie/productions/carmen-2014/carmen-london-june-2014

View the Carmen trailer at www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3EoR0nSQhc