Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer 2023
Our annual Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer performances were held on Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 May in front of an enthralled crowd of family, friends and supporters.
Nurturing the creative impulse
As part of the Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer programme, 2nd Year students experience working as professional choreographers and are tasked with developing a choreographic piece. Students are supported along the creative process and offered guidance on choreographic development, studio research and improvisation. They have complete creative license to explore their ideas and are encouraged to consider stage, props, lighting and costume design.
The Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer programme is a part of the School’s overarching Choreographic Programme, led by Choreographic Course Coordinator and Tutor Mikaela Polley. An alumni of The Royal Ballet School, Mikaela had a successful career as a Soloist at Birmingham Royal Ballet, and as a dancer, rehearsal director and choreographer at Rambert Dance Company. She continues to work as a choreographer, often creating pieces on Royal Ballet School students for our Summer Performances.
Students are mentored by established industry professionals each year, with this year’s mentors being two young choreographers, Kit Holder and Monique Jonas. Kit Holder trained at The Royal Ballet School before joining Birmingham Royal Ballet, where he is now First Soloist and BRB2 Artistic Coordinator. Kit has choreographed works for a variety of dance companies, including Birmingham Royal Ballet. Monique Jonas trained at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance before joining the Richard Alston Dance Company. Monique is also the founder and Artistic Director of Jona Dance Company.
Our budding choreographers worked with their mentors during the Spring term, helping the students explore their ideas, while providing inspiration. Following the performances, the mentors, alongside special guest Dame Monica Mason, gave feedback to the students.
White Lodge students also beautifully performed Labyrinth, a piece created by two Year 9 students for the Ninette de Valois Emerging Choreographer performances earlier this year.
Dame Ninette de Valois’ legacy
Each year as part of this programme, we honour our Founder, Dame Ninette de Valois’ legacy by fostering creative curiosity, experimentation and expression through embedding choreography in our training methodology.
As one of Ninette de Valois’ most constant colleagues, Ursula Moreton had an extremely successful and varied career as a dancer, teacher and ballet director. Following her death in 1973, the Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer performances were established in her honour.
Behind the performances
The 12 works showcased by our students displayed choreographic maturity beyond their years, featuring a plethora of works with creativity bursting from the walls of the studios. Inspiration came in all forms, ranging from classical mythologies to the refraction of light. Artistic Director and CEO Christopher Powney applauded the dancers ‘for venturing into an area that makes them vulnerable.’
We spoke to some of our students about their works. Here they discuss their creative inspiration:
I was inspired to research the psychedelic rock movement in the 1960s and 70s after listening to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. The era was labelled as a time when people abandoned traditional, conservative ways of life for more expressive, rebellious and non-conforming ways of living. The music gives a unique style to the steps, showing a sense of mystery and travelling into the unknown.Architects of Our Reality by Sacha Venkatasawmy
When we first started creating our choreography, we took note of the Italian meaning of our music Altalena, which translates to swing. Through this meaning and the Italian sound of the music, we came up with the idea of Italy at night. In the creative process, we developed characters with the dancers in mind. Our choreography is an exploration of stories: stories of love, friendship, dreams and longing.Pavements of Rome by Sigurd Blystad and Jules Chastre
My piece is inspired by the inevitability of endings in life. Whether it be the end of friendships, eras, or life itself. We all share unity in our mortality and in the impossibility of forever in life. We may run out of time, but we will never have enough of it. How It Ends is about discovering peace in that inevitability. In this way, we will find forever in the company of each other despite an ending that is close, or far, on the horizon.How It Ends by Rebecca Stewart
A big congratulations to all who participated in the performances and thank you to the staff and supporters who made these opportunities possible for our students.