by Rebecca Haw Many terrible and many great things have been birthed during the past eighteen months. The initiative I would like to highlight is the rise of entrepreneurial artists.
As an artist and founder myself, I can vouch for the void that the pandemic left many of us. The time it gifted, the closures it inflicted and the space to think that we feel we may not have had before. Broadening our horizons to the possibility that there is more for us than meets the eye in our respective careers and that change could be exciting. I’d like to spotlight one duo in particular.
Jamiel Laurence and Henry Dowden are the Executive Producer and Co-Producer of Ballet Nights. A concept of bringing an all encompassing evening of live classical and modern dance, international main-stage choreographers, performers, and musicians, along with ‘bespoke hospitality services by the emerging London City Island based bar The Lockdown Room. Providing audience members with a carefully curated menu of drinks and snack choices pre-show, at the interval and a Q&A or after-show events.’ Ballet Nights has even sought to their audiences’ accommodation needs, discounting the nearby Hilton London Canary Wharf.
Ballet Nights is not just providing live theatre but a networking opportunity. It’s ingenious to combine these initiatives after such an absence of socialisation. A treat for all the pandemic deprived senses!
The debut of Ballet Nights features choreography from Dawson, Cohan, Petipa, new works from the likes of Daniel Davidson, Jeffrey Cirio and Hannah Rudd, in addition to concert pianist Viktor Erik Emanuel’s performing Chopin and plenty more, makes for an intriguing cocktail of pieces for the launch. ‘This is a new way to see, hear, feel and experience the most exciting dance artists of our time, as well as celebrate dance heritage alongside newly emerging artists.’
Laurence and Dowden have been at the epicentre of traditional live classical and modern ballet culture for most of their careers and were both early adopters of the entrepreneurial mindset that this generation of classical artists seems to have. As a classical dancer, choreographer and award-winning filmmaker, Laurence began expanding his network of creatives, widening his perspective on the current dance economy, more recently (and formatively) through founding the #FundFreelanceDance initiative. Dowden, the first artist at English National Ballet and the Founder and Director of the Online Ballet Portal, in his first endeavour co-producing has pulled in his international network of artistic contacts and industry knowledge to bring together this exciting concept.
Ballet Nights aims to provide regular showings of varying mixed artistic evenings, increasing in frequency with its success, what better way to celebrate our recently returned freedom. Can Ballet Nights shake tradition? I think so, and along with it provide the inspiration artists need to allow themselves to dream and create once again.
Saturday 23rd October 2021