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  • The Royal Ballet to join forces with Hull dancers to perform Swan Lake across the city

The Royal Ballet to join forces with Hull dancers to perform Swan Lake across the city

The Company will celebrate Hull as UK City of Culture 2017 with a day of Swan Lake-inspired activities and a gala evening at the New Theatre in September 2017.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

28 February 2017 at 5.19pm | 30 Comments

The Royal Ballet will perform a programme of works as part of Hull's UK City of Culture celebrations on 16 September 2017.

The day will involve a number of of Swan Lake-inspired activities across the city and a gala evening opening the newly-refurbished New Theatre, bringing together artists from Hull with Royal Ballet Principals and Soloists.

Dancers will also take part in Take Flight, a community dance project inspired by flying. Choreographed by members of The Royal Ballet and five local dance groups, Take Flight will culminate in 100 performers and members of the community presenting a re-imagined version of the famous cygnet pas de quatre from Swan Lake throughout the city.

Joining The Royal Ballet on stage during the gala will be some of the exciting dance talent emerging in the city today including two of Hull’s own stars from the world of dance: Mariinsky Ballet Soloist Xander Parish and Birmingham Royal Ballet Principal Joseph Caley.

Hull-born Kevin O'Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, said: 'I am immensely proud of my roots in Hull, and what has been achieved so far in the city’s year as UK City of Culture. For me this opportunity to return to my home city, for the Company to take to the stage in the magnificent setting of Hull’s refurbished New Theatre and to create new links with the young talent of Hull is unique and special for all of us.'

Hull has been the cradle of development of an extraordinary number of ballet and dance stars. The Skelton Hooper School of Dance, led by Vanessa Hooper, who performed with The Royal Ballet, has discovered more talented ballet dancers than any other in the UK. Among these, 24 of its pupils have won places at the Royal Ballet School; Xander Parish is the first ever Briton to dance with Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet, and his sister, Demelza, is currently an First Artist with The Royal Ballet.

Tickets for The Royal Ballet: Opening the New go on sale at 10am on 21 July

Generously supported by the Paul Hamlyn Education Fund

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

28 February 2017 at 5.19pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Ballet, Hull, kevin o'hare, Swan Lake, The Royal Ballet, UK City of Culture 2017

This article has 30 comments

  1. malcolm butler responded on 28 February 2017 at 6:59pm Reply

    supply info for booking for royal ballet

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 2 March 2017 at 3:21pm

      Thank you all for your comments. Tickets are not currently available but details will be announced in due course. I have amended the blog to reflect this information and will share a ticket link as soon as they become available.

      Many thanks,


    • David Robertson responded on 8 May 2017 at 5:46pm

      I agree regarding the phenomenal amount of talent to come from the Hull area, and indeed still producing very good dancers from other top notch schools, such as The Arts Garage at Saltend. This is a relatively new school, but it's like a conveyor belt turning out dancers year after year, to go on to graduate, and join dance companies.

  2. malcolm butler responded on 28 February 2017 at 7:00pm Reply

    booking details ?

  3. Kelly Shakesby responded on 28 February 2017 at 7:49pm Reply

    How do we book?

  4. Mimi Gordon responded on 1 March 2017 at 12:13pm Reply

    This sounds fantastic! Please give details of how + when we can book!! Thanks...

  5. Valerie Knight responded on 2 March 2017 at 3:37pm Reply

    Wouldn't it be great if the BBC could televise this Gala Concert?

  6. Absolutely wonderful. Delighted to see Kevin bringing it all back home, and delighted that the Royal Ballet and other 'Hull alumni' will be taking part in Hull's incredible year as UK City of culture.

    Skelton Hooper is where it all started for so many successful dancers. However, it doesn't just produce great dancers. Vanessa Hooper has that rare capacity to give caring attention to every child. So, every child benefits from the discipline, expression, creativity and pure fun of dance. A very special dance school.

  7. David Robertson responded on 8 May 2017 at 5:48pm Reply

    I just hope the people of Hull will get chance to see The RB perform in their CoC year.

  8. Pauline Venetia Ruddock responded on 1 July 2017 at 6:30am Reply

    Would like to see sander parish in swan lake
    Please send me details when l cab purchase

  9. Pauline Venetia Ruddock responded on 1 July 2017 at 6:31am Reply

    Wish we could see more ballet on television.

  10. Anette Bingham responded on 6 July 2017 at 9:27am Reply

    Came across this article by accident after reading a Times article on Xander Parish. Two pensioner ballet fans from Yorkshire would love to see the Gala performance at Hull. Hopefully ticket details will be released soon ( to our email addresses??? )

  11. Malcolm Burton responded on 10 July 2017 at 4:39pm Reply

    Glad to see detail of booking are published.Have followed Kevin O'Hare' s career all his life and am proud that he is supporting Hull. I knew his father Michael in the 60's & 70's and met Kevin when he was 9 or 10. His father was landlord of the Masters Bar, hope he's still around enjoying himsel.f

  12. Gerry Mis responded on 21 July 2017 at 11:34pm Reply

    Unfortunately the ordinary folk of Hull were not able to obtain tickets to the gala. Tickets sold out within 4 minutes and I don't know anyone who managed to get one, I have a granddaughter participating in the take flight performance and there has been no mention of the allocation of tickets for young performers.

  13. Kathryn Saul responded on 2 August 2017 at 5:55pm Reply

    Please, please, please can we see what is going to be a phenomenal performance by The Royal Ballet Company, their soloists and Xander, at Hull New Theatre, on our BIG SCREEN at Pontio in Bangor, North Wales?? We are devastated not to be able to get tickets (residents of Swanland for 16 years until we removed in Dec '14) and always watch our wonderful Royal Ballet Company (with Melzie) whenever possible. Please can you let us know if this performance will be broadcast on our UK BIG SCREENS - as it will be in Queens Gardens? All tickets sold there as well!

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 3 August 2017 at 3:08pm

      Hi Kathryn,

      I'm afraid there are no plans to stream the performance via BP Big Screens.

      Sorry to disappoint you!


  14. alex responded on 27 August 2017 at 10:26am Reply

    Where can I find information about who will dance what? It was announced that Mariinsky Ballet Principal dancer Xander Parish will perform with Royal Ballet Principal ballerina Yasmine Naghdi but what will they dance? And what will the other dancers perform? I have been lucky enough to be able to get a ticket but I would love to know what the audience will get to see. Thank you.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 1 September 2017 at 12:21pm

      Hi Alex,

      Specific performance details are yet to be confirmed. Watch this space!



  15. Disgruntled Dad responded on 10 September 2017 at 9:11am Reply

    There are 4 local Community Dance Schools participating in The Royal Ballets Take Flight in Trinity Square on Saturday 16th September.
    The 4 Dance Schools that are participating have been practicing in pairs for the past few months
    The McKeown Irish Dance Company and The Arts Garage LWHS
    Northern Acadamy for Performing Arts and Skelton Hooper
    Although it is very gracious of The Royal Ballet to allow these 4 Community Dance Schools to take part in their Take Flight performance throughout the day of the 16th
    It really is a shame The Royal Ballet have tainted the whole event for one half of the pairs by surreptitiously rehearsing with just 2 of the Schools, with the purpose of them having the amazing opportunity of appearing in that evenings sold out performance of Swan Lake at the freshly refurbished Hull New Theatre, only leaving it until the last minute to mention these covert rehearsals so its conveniently to late to change anything
    Why have The Royal Ballet not given the same opportunity to all the Community Dance Schools involved?
    Why have they not chosen a selection of Dancers from each of the 4 Schools, instead of just giving special privilege to just 2 of them ??
    Also, why have The Royal Ballet been so shady and deceitful about allowing just 2 of the Community Dance Schools to appear in that evenings performance ???
    Hiding the facts and not even having the decency to tell the 2 unlucky Schools first hand !!!
    I really have lost a lot of respect for The Royal Ballet
    Very bad show Mr O'hare !!!

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 12 September 2017 at 5:46pm

      Thanks for your comment.

      The Royal Ballet is keen to celebrate the wealth of young dance talent in Hull. While there wasn’t the opportunity to involve students from all of the many dance schools and teachers across the city, the Company is delighted that four schools are participating in the afternoon’s partnership project and that two were selected to represent Hull’s emerging talent in the evening’s performance.

    • disgruntled dance mum responded on 14 September 2017 at 7:59pm

      Well said!

  16. Gerry Mis responded on 14 September 2017 at 6:29pm Reply

    Further to Disgruntled dad's post
    It's a shame that the Royal Ballet didn't cast from an open audition then other youngsters would get this amazing opportunity. The two schools participating in the main gala are a once great but now deminished ballet school and a very successful theatre school (with some wonderful dancers but somewhat lacking in ballerinas).
    I'm sick of hearing about how great Skelton Hooper is when the reality is it's a failing school with very few students left, the school clearly approaches many media sources to promote their shrinking school by trading on the achievements of the current proprietors mother.
    Shame on the Royal Ballet for not casting a wider net (they would be astounded to see the true talent of the city) and shame on the foolish reporters regurgitating the rubbish fed to them by Vanessa Hooper.
    NB: Chris Shipman you haven responded to the fact that the Royal Ballet, Skelton Hooper & Napa were deceitful keeping the extent of the two schools involvement in the theatre gala secret until it was too late.

  17. disgruntled dance mum responded on 14 September 2017 at 7:57pm Reply

    Why have the Royal Ballet made the decision to use 2 local dance schools in the main performance and not use the Children who attend Royal Ballet Associate Classes? I know of at least 5 who travel to London/Leeds/Newcastle every week. I think a fantastic opportunity has been missed, this would showcase Royal Ballet and local talent emerging from Hull with the Royal Ballet.

    Lets hope Councillor Brady will stay awake for the performance and make full use of his free ticket! The local children who are taking part in Take Flight in the forecasted rain, will watch whilst still wet on a big screen in more forecasted rain, whilst all the local councillors and dignitaries watch the performance for free and in comfort, not because they choose to, because it is something to be endured.

    Perhaps more performances are required to give the audience who would love to watch this a chance?

  18. emily responded on 16 September 2017 at 1:02am Reply

    Very sad to see bitter and jealous comments on here. I wish people could be glad for others' success as well as their own. Wishing all the best to all those taking part in the performances on Saturday.

    • disgruntled dance mum responded on 18 September 2017 at 11:51am

      We are pleased for everyone's success and wish them all well. All I ever ask for is a level playing field wth equal opportunities being given to all. No more no less! The City of Culture aim should be to unite the City and People of Hull not create divides.

    • disgruntled dance mum responded on 18 September 2017 at 11:56am

      Emily I would also like to point out the some of the "young ladies" of the 2 selected schools has not been very chivalrous to girls from the other schools either, telling them that they have been selected because they are more talented, again unite and not divide!

  19. Disgruntled Dad responded on 16 September 2017 at 12:08pm Reply

    Well thank you Mr Shipman for not clearing that up in the slightest !!
    Not only have you failed to answer any of my questions, but you have managed to totally avoid the point that I was making altogether !?!
    I do not dispute that Hull has a wealth of young dance talent
    I appreciate that there are many amazingly talented Dance Schools in Hull
    I understand that unfortunately there wasn't the opportunity to involve students and teachers from all of these schools
    I am eternally grateful to The Royal Ballet for the generosity they have shown by including my daughters Dance School in their afternoons partnership project
    I am just disgusted with the way that The Royal Ballet chose to conducted itself with regards to the 2 Community Dance Schools who were not approached to appear in this evenings gala performance at The New Theatre
    How they had the 2 Schools that were selected to perform sworn to secrecy and conducted covert rehearsals with them so as not to alert the other 2 Schools to their concealment
    How The Royal Ballet didn't even have the decency to explain themselves, when these 4 Community Dance Schools were originally chosen to perform, that only 2 of these Dance Schools would be selected to represent Hulls emerging talent at that evenings performance
    How The Royal Ballet, for some bizarre reason, thought it would be a good idea to not mention anything themselves about only choosing 2 of the schools for this evenings performance and then allowed a tutor from one of the selected schools ('the best one in the uk') to tell the other 2 Community Dance Schools who weren't selected, only days before the event, 'Its such a shame you won't be performing at the theatre this weekend, they could only use the best and they asked me months ago' ! Which I'm sure, if they weren't the true professionals that they are, could have slightly antagonise half of the young ladies involved alittle leaving them feeling like they'd been taken for absolute idiots maybe !!
    So my question to you Mr Shipman is...
    • Why did The Royal Ballet chose to belittle and deceive 2 Prolifically Accomplished Dance Schools by keeping the full extent of the other 2 dance schools involvement a secret throughout over 70 hours of rehearsal time together, to then wait until the last minute and allow 'other sources' to reveal their schemes and plans, while not even having the common courtesy to explain in person, right at the beginning, to the all the Extremely Talented Young Dancers who were involved from the 2 Community Dance Schools, who weren't selected for this evenings performance, that they had decided to only use the 'emerging talent' of the other 2 dance schools for that once in a lifetime opportunity of appearing alongside The Royal Ballet in Swan Lake ?

    NB: In fact I believe that between them both Disgruntled Dance Mum and Gerry Mis have come up with what would have been the most perfect scenario possible...
    The Royal Ballet should definitely have used open auditions when choosing the participants for today's Take Flight performance, as this would have allowed many other youngsters the amazing opportunity of appearing at this once in a lifetime event. And that casting from a wider net could really have showcased the truly astounding talent of both the city of Hull and the surrounding area.
    I also agree that The Royal Ballet should absolutely have used the children who actually attend their Royal Ballets Associate Classes for tonight's New Theatre gala production and the fact they have not done so is utterly ludicrous !?!
    The dedicated young ladies from this area who rise at ridiculous hours and travel hundreds of miles each and every week to attend all your classes in different cities across the country should have been your first port of call without hesitation !!!
    I too believe that an absolutely fantastic opportunity has been missed by yourselves to showcase The Royal Ballets emerging talent from Hull with The Royal Ballet !!!

    But on a lighter note
    I would like to take this opportunity to say a humongous GoOd LuCk to all the young ladies who did get the chance to take part in today's Take Flight performance project. And we are all praying that the rain has stopped for you by this afternoon x

  20. Gerry Mis responded on 18 September 2017 at 12:16pm Reply

    Well said Disgruntled Dad!
    Take flight was fabulous and the children involved thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The gala itself was wonderful and the live screening a success despite the weather.
    The young performers fortunate enough to perform within the theatre did a great job and the pieces were beautifully choreographed.
    Hiwever, i stand by my earlier post that the situation was badly managed and underhand and it did take the shine off for some, but those kids left out in the cold will dust themselves off and come back stronger, embracing that Northern Grit talked about by Kevin O'Hare.
    Hopefully the theatres improved facilities will attract more Ballet companies and more opportunities for our young people in the future.

  21. emily responded on 6 November 2017 at 4:12pm Reply

    Hi there, disgruntled dance mum.

    I am an 'outsider' who came to this page thinking this sounded like a lovely project & wanting to know more. I know nothing about the internecine politics of Hull dance schools and am not interested in them. I've no idea about to whom you're referring and am sad you feel the need to make that point, apparently assuming that I do. I just think that this was an inappropripate forum for your & others' complaints and, again, to an outsider, it does not come over well.

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