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News: Young people given a fun and insightful experience into the exciting world of ballet

Young people given a fun and insightful experience into the exciting world of ballet

Sunderland Empire’s Creative Learning & Community Partnerships team have been working in collaboration with local cultural organisations - Sunderland Music Hub and Sunderland Culture, giving young people from Usworth Primary School a unique first step introduction into the world of ballet.

Through drama, movement, costume design, technical design and sound - the pupils worked alongside professional artists at Arts Centre Washington ahead of their visit to see Birmingham Royal Ballet - First Steps - Swan Lake in March.

The project involved a back stage tour of the Sunderland Empire, where students were able to explore costume design and lighting, whilst exploring the story of Swan Lake through shadow puppetry and drama. Pupils were also given the opportunity to work with talented local musicians - to help understand the art of storytelling through the power of music. 

The project, aimed ultimately to inspire young people in all aspects of what is required to create and deliver a ballet production, while learning to appreciate the many disciplines required. The project also showcased the many and varied, important careers available in the Creative Industry.

Anthony Hope, Creative Learning & Community Partnerships Manager said: “We are so thrilled to be working with Usworth Colliery and to be able to introduce the children there to the ballet, most of which for the first time. We’ve explored the production in all of its exciting facets including music, costume, and puppetry and lightening with local partners and artist to bring the world of Swan Lake to life. The young people involved have really bought into the story and will be joining us to see the Frist Steps performance (a 1 hour version of the 4 act ballet) at Sunderland Empire.”

Lizzie Nixon, Music Education Hub added: “At Sunderland Music Hub we are passionate about making sure children and young people across the city have access to high-quality music-making, regardless of their background or experience, as we think creativity is essential to living a happy and fulfilling life. This project is really special for us as it has allowed the children at Usworth to have a taste of lots of creative activities by working with partners who are experts in their field, and has demonstrated the many skills and creative career opportunities that exist within any one show, such as Swan Lake. We hope we’ve peaked interest in music-making in the children that we have worked with, but more than anything we hope the children have enjoyed the opportunity to be creative across many art forms.”

Vicki Kennedy Great Place Producer, Sunderland Culture explains “Working together in creative partnerships means that children get to experience some of the best artists, cultural organisations and venues that the City has to offer. Children deserve rich and memorable creative experiences and the learning from this pilot programme will ensure that not just one school can benefit from this partnership, but many schools across Sunderland.”

Students were equally enthusiastic and inspired by the project, for many it was an insight into a world they knew nothing about. Feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive:

“I really enjoyed it. At first I didn’t know much about Swan Lake, but now I know much more about it”
“I used to go to a dance class, but I found it really hard and I didn’t think it was for me so I stopped going. After coming to the theatre and after finding more about Swan Lake, I felt inspired to try ballet again”
Birmingham Royal Ballet bring First Steps - Swan Lake, Thursday 12 March (an interactive one hour show for children aged 3+) and the full scale production of Swan Lake to the Sunderland Empire Thursday 12 - Saturday 14 March.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake comes to the Sunderland Empire from Thursday 12 - Saturday 14 March. Tickets: #Ad

Swan Lake - First Steps: Thursday 12 March, 2.30pm #Ad

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