This summer The Royal Ballet, in partnership with Cast and Doncaster Council, set themselves a mission to get Doncaster Dancing. The special project, a first for The Royal Ballet, has resulted in a unique community dance film called Doncaster Dances. The film premiered on 15 September on the Royal Opera House, Cast and Doncaster Council websites.
The film celebrates individuals and community groups and is inspired by the choreography of Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet Romeo and Juliet, with synchronicity to today’s lockdown themes of love and separation, family, friendship and solidarity. The film also features Doncaster local and Royal Ballet dancer Charlotte Tonkinson and fellow Royal Ballet dancer Joseph Aumeer.
Doncaster residents, primary schools, sports clubs, care homes and dance schools were supported with online resources from the Royal Opera House, alongside remote direction from The Royal Ballet, to learn routines inspired by Romeo and Juliet. The project brought together more than 130 residents, 6 community groups, 2 care homes and 2 local schools to get Doncaster dancing and celebrate movement in this isolating and challenging time.
In 2019 the Royal Opera House announced this exciting partnership with Doncaster residents through Doncaster Creates (Doncaster’s Culture Development programme). This programme of cultural learning activity includes a commitment to work in every school in Doncaster over the next three years. As part of this partnership The Royal Ballet was due to perform at Cast Theatre in July 2020, however sadly both events were postponed due to the pandemic. Eager to continue its commitment to Doncaster and to bring dance to the community, The Royal Ballet, Cast and Doncaster Council have worked together to get Doncaster dancing.
Member of Parliament for Doncaster North, Ed Miliband, helped to establish Doncaster Creates as the region’s first cultural community project to harness and nurture the creativity of Doncaster.
Doncaster Dances at Cusworth Hall Photo by Jamie Stewart
Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet comments, ‘The Royal Ballet were determined that the pandemic would not interfere with our plans for engaging with Doncaster residents and sharing the enriching experience of dance. Kenneth MacMillan’s powerful setting of Romeo and Juliet has always fired the collective imagination and was the perfect springboard for a process of creative exploration during dark times. Doncaster Dances has proved just how empowering the arts can be and is a wonderful testament to the resilience of the human spirit. This beautiful film is both poignant and optimistic, demonstrating that everyone in the community, young and old, can unite through dance.’
Deborah Ress, Director of Cast adds, ‘Cast is delighted to be working in partnership with The Royal Ballet and despite the pandemic, together we have found a way to engage with Doncaster communities through the inspirational programme Doncaster Dances. The end result of this programme is an amazing film showcasing Doncaster’s talent and resilience and our thanks go to The Royal Ballet and the people of Doncaster for making this happen.’
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster said, ‘This Doncaster Dances premiere is the culmination of a tremendous project with The Royal Ballet. It has involved local residents, schools, community groups and care homes from across the borough, giving them the opportunity to learn a new skill, get active and have some fun with dancers from one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world. Making this happen during these most difficult of times is a big achievement.’