Burberry has released a series of dance films inspired by Yorkshire school students as part of a landmark transatlantic collaboration with Leeds-based Northern Ballet Theatre and New York-based American Ballet Theatre, giving a global showcase to Yorkshire locations.
Students from Airedale Academy in Castleford worked with Northern Ballet dancers to inspire and choreograph two of the video pieces filmed indoors and outdoors at various places in Yorkshire, including Leeds city centre, Salts Mill and The Hepworth Wakefield. A similar project resulted in two films made in New York.
With choreography inspired by Ruby P from Airedale Academy, the film Roots sees Northern Ballet dancers Minju Kang and Lorenzo Trossello, who isolated together as a couple through lockdown, perform in Salts Mill, Saltaire, and at The Hepworth Wakefield, directed by Emily Nuttall and choreographed by Kenneth Tindall.
Trapped sees Kevin Poeung dance in a number of venues across Leeds including Woodhouse Lane car park and underpass,the Dark Arches Granary Wharf and Roundhay Park, with choreography inspired by Ellie Y from Airedale Academy.
The students’ work will also be showcased on a virtual cultural runway later this year.
Burberry, which manufactures its famous trench coats in Castleford, launched its Burberry Inspire in-school project in Yorkshire in 2018 to give young people experience of arts and culture while studying the impact on their development. It expanded the project to New York in 2020 and this collaboration brings together the two prestigious ballet companies with Leeds Young Film, The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Playhouse and Studio in a School NYC, and with school students from Yorkshire and Queens in New York City to create virtual dance, sculpture and digital media artwork.
Burberry said: “As education programmes were impacted and schools were interrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, a transatlantic, multidisciplinary artistic collaboration was born. The artistic partners of in-school arts education programme Burberry Inspire turned to virtual learning and creative prompts online to continue their lessons, resulting in some world-first collaborations from renowned artists, directly inspired by their students.”
Overseen by Northern Ballet’s artistic director of digital and choreographer in residence Kenneth Tindall, students from Airedale Academy worked with dance artists to explore works and imagery that inspired them, devising their own choreography. American Ballet Theatre and Northern Ballet also helped the students enhance their communication, leadership, creative-thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Leanne Kirkham, Director of Learning, Northern Ballet: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the unprecedented impact on every aspect of our lives has highlighted the importance of creativity as we’ve adjusted at home, at work and at play. With great challenge comes great opportunity and we wanted to share this ethos with young people by offering them a chance to work with professional dancers like never before. Pupils in Yorkshire and New York City have risen to the challenge and created some beautifully inspiring choreography which our dancers have loved bringing to life.”
New York-based Reel Works, an organisation that inspires and empowers underrepresented young people through filmmaking, helped with the film-making online, collaborated with Leeds Young Film on ideas and ways to engage students.
Studio in a School NYC and The Hepworth Wakefield have been sharing each other’s artmaking prompts and video lessons with students, a partnership set to continue in the coming months. To stay connected to students during the pandemic, Studio in a School NYC launched Studio in Your Home, a family-friendly platform for creating art with materials found at home.
Leeds Playhouse was also involved, working with partner schools in Leeds and with the CUNY Creative Arts Team, which harnesses theatre to impact social change.
More than 5,500 young people across both countries have so far benefitted from Burberry Inspire’s experiences of the creative arts, ranging from dance and theatre to filmmaking and sculpture. The Policy Institute at King’s College London will study the impact of the immersive arts and creative education programme on the students’ development in Yorkshire, while the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Program Support (REPS) of the City University of New York will measure the impact in New York.
All the films can be seen in full plus an additional film about the project on YouTube #BurberryInspire - see the film Trapped hereStephanie Smith Instagram @yorkshirestyleQFor more stories from the YP Magazine and The Yorkshire Post features team, visit our Facebook page.
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