Next March English National Ballet will take up residency in Tate Britain's Duveen galleries to celebrate the opening of the major exhibition Picasso & Modern British Art and the Company’s Beyond Ballets Russes season. Inspired by Picasso's visionary costume and set design work with the Ballets Russes, this collaboration will offer a rare insight into how English National Ballet rehearses repertoire and creates commissions. The climax of the residency will be world premiere performances of three newly commissioned ballets at Late at Tate on 2 March 2012, animating works from Picasso & Modern British Art. These pieces will be performed alongside David Dawson’s Faun(e).
During the residency week (27 February – 4 March 2012) the Duveen galleries will be brought to life with sights such as the full Company of 67 dancers taking their morning ballet class along a barre stretching the length of the North Duveen Gallery and rehearsing pieces including The Rite of Spring and Firebird. There will also be workshops for people of all ages to join, as well as talks, discussions and demonstrations highlighting the links between dance and the visual arts, especially in the legacy of the Ballets Russes.
English National Ballet’s residency at Tate Britain is an extraordinary opportunity to witness dance and visual art together, and explore how Picasso was so enthused by the great ballet Company. Picasso worked closely with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes from 1916, designing several other ballets including Parade and Pulcinella. He frequently sketched the dancers in rehearsal and off stage and married one of the company’s dancers, Olga Khokhlova. In 1919 he came to London with the Ballets Russes to create the designs for Le Tricorne and this visit to London will be feature in Picasso & Modern British Art at Tate Britain. Parade and Tricorne are both in English National Ballet’s repertoire and Picasso himself oversaw the creation of the sets and costumes. This history has inspired the collaboration between Tate Britain and English National Ballet.
English National Ballet’s residency programme at Tate Britain celebrates the legacy of the Ballets Russes alongside the Company’s Beyond Ballets Russes season, performed at the Coliseum in March 2012. Beyond Ballets Russes includes the World Premiere of a new production of Firebird, inspired by Picasso’s work, as well as MacMillan’s The Rite of Spring and David Dawson’s Faun(e) alongside its inspiration - Nijinsky’s original L’après-midi d’un faune.
Picasso & Modern British Art at Tate Britain is the first exhibition to explore Pablo Picasso’s lifelong connections with Britain. The exhibition will examine Picasso’s evolving critical reputation here and British artists’ responses to his work. It will investigate Picasso’s rise in Britain as a figure of both controversy and celebrity, tracing the ways in which his work was exhibited and collected here during his lifetime, and demonstrating that the British engagement with Picasso and his art was much deeper and more varied than generally has been appreciated.
English National Ballet at Tate Britain, Monday 27 February – Sunday 4 March; Late at Tate at Tate Britain, 3 March 2012 ; Beyond Ballets Russes at the London Coliseum, 22 March – 1 April 2012; Picasso & Modern British Art at Tate Britain, 15 February – 15 July 2012