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Watch: Our Favourite Kim Brandstrup Clips

The works from this award-winning and versatile choreographer are astonishing for their psychological depth.

By Rachel Thomas (Former Content Producer (Ballet))

27 October 2014 at 12.58pm | Comment on this article

Danish-born, Britain-based choreographer Kim Brandstrup is in constant demand as a dance-maker, across a variety of media. His early training in film at the University of Copenhagen has yielded a choreographic approach striking for its powerful narrative style and sensitive depictions of characters and their relationships.

Brandstrup’s many works for The Royal Ballet include the Olivier Award-winning Goldberg: The Brandstrup-Rojo Project and the dance film Leda and the Swan, created as part of Deloitte Ignite 14. In preparation for the London premiere of his Ceremony of Innocence, created for The Royal Ballet at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2013, we’ve gathered together a selection of our favourite Brandstrup moments.

Goldberg: The Brandstrup-Rojo Project

Goldberg was Brandstrup’s second work for the Linbury Studio Theatre. Created in 2009 in response to Tamara Rojo’s request for ‘something different’, Brandstrup used J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations as the foundation for a piece that takes as its inspiration the fleeting moments of variation in the rehearsal room. Drawing together different approaches and styles of dance in this intimate context, the award-winning Goldberg is ‘a beautiful, grown-up piece of fine musical feeling and drama’ (Ismene Brown, Arts Desk).

Invitus Invitam

Created for the Royal Ballet in 2010, Invitus Invitam is a four-minute ballet of three anguished, passionate duets, set to Thomas Adès’s Three Studies from Couperin. The work was widely acclaimed at its premiere and was nominated for the 2011 Critics’ Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography. In this video Brandstrup explores his inspirations for this ballet ‘about a reluctant parting of two lovers’, which range from Racine to a depiction of the ‘feeling of how theatre is made’.


Brandstrup regularly choreographs for operas, musicals, plays and films. His credits including Death in Venice for La Scala, Milan, and The Iron Lady, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. In this production of Carousel for Opera North and Théâtre du Châtelet, Brandstrup’s choreography for the central ballet is striking for the characterization it brings to the orphaned Louise.

Death in Venice

Brandstrup has a longstanding association with Benjamin Britten’s opera Death in Venice, describing it as ‘the piece I’ve revisited most frequently’. He first worked on the piece in a 1992 production for the Royal Opera House, and in 2007 choreographed this celebrated production for English National Opera, directed by Deborah Warner. Brandstrup’s responses to the opera’s elegiac tone and themes of lost and corrupted youth have had a powerful impact upon his subsequent interpretations of Britten’s music, including Ceremony of Innocence.

Leda and the Swan

Among Brandstrup’s most recent projects is his film Leda and the Swan, which was created for The Royal Ballet’s Deloitte Ignite 14. Inspired by the eponymous Greek myth, the film stars Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky, Swedish dancer Tommy Franzen and actor Fiona Shaw. Brandstrup described the work as venturing ‘into the shady territory between power and submission, active and passive, masculine and feminine’.

The mixed programme is given with generous philanthropic support from Richard and Delia Baker (Ceremony of Innocence), Simon and Virginia Robertson, Kenneth and Susan Green, Karl and Holly Peterson, The Age of Anxiety Production Syndicate, the Friends of Covent Garden and an anonymous donor (The Age of Anxiety) and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.

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