Royal Opera House, Everybody Dance Project 2019, photo by Rachel Cherry ROH

This Summer The Royal Ballet is partnering with Cast and Doncaster Council to get Doncaster Dancing.

Local residents, primary schools, sports clubs, care homes and dance schools will take part in a three-week community digital project to create their own original piece of dance on the themes of lockdown and social distancing.

This project, a first for The Royal Ballet, will culminate in a film that will premiere on Saturday 5 September online through the ROH’s YouTube and Facebook channels and broadcast in Doncaster town centre.

Taking inspiration from Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, local participants will use online resources, as well as remote direction from Royal Ballet dancer and Doncaster local Charlotte Tonkinson, to learn steps and create their own sections of dance exploring themes of loss, love and separation, friendship, family and solidarity.

The project will culminate in a collective performance, which will be edited into a short dance film featuring Charlotte Tonkinson and fellow Royal Ballet dancer Joseph Aumeer as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet to be premiered on 5 September.

Last year the Royal Opera House announced this exciting partnership with Doncaster through Doncaster Creates (Doncaster’s Culture Development programme). Although no longer able to perform live at Cast due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the company was eager to continue its commitment to Doncaster and to bring dance to the heart of the community.

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.

Supporting this first community film to come through the Doncaster Creates partnership, Mr Miliband said: “I am delighted to see our local community bring together The Royal Ballet, Cast and the Local Authority to harness the power of creativity and bring our community together to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 and collectively celebrate the importance of dance. Even despite Covid19 it is wonderful to see the determination that the show must go on.”

Charlotte Tonkinson, dancer with The Royal Ballet comments “It’s a wonderful feeling to bring The Royal Ballet to my hometown of Doncaster.  How exciting to celebrate dance through Doncaster Dances with its first-ever virtual dance project. It is amazing, especially during this challenging time, to feel a sense of togetherness and to share the joy of dance. Working with community groups and school children, I look forward to lifting their spirits and working with the local community to bring this project to life at a crucial time in Doncaster”.

Deborah Rees, Director of Cast adds “The Covid-19 pandemic may have temporarily closed our doors but in the last three months we’ve experienced an outpouring of togetherness, generosity and creativity.  The instinct to dance has brought people together across the globe and this project gives an amazing opportunity for people to dance together from their own homes.  Cast and the Royal Opera House have worked hard to maintain contact with our communities and maintain the spirit of this unique lockdown project.  In doing so, we’ve created a new way of sharing our love of dance. Romeo and Juliet is a story of division, of a community torn in two and brought together by an act of love. The end result of this project – a community film – will allow local people, some of whom have been isolated from the outside world for months, to express themselves and come together once again.”