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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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Newly commissioned performance and documentary celebrates the anniversary of the Ballets Russes on BBC Three and Four

  • A specially commissioned new film of Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring with the Balletboyz on BBC Three combining documentary and performance
  • Contemporary choreographers celebrate Diaghilev in performance televised from Sadler's Wells on BBC Four
  • A new film looks at the artistic and cultural legacy of the Ballets Russes on BBC Four

In a unique collaboration with the Balletboyz, BBC Three broadcasts a powerful new version of Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring specially commissioned as part of December programming on the BBC marking the 100th anniversary of the Ballets Russes.

Televised in the lead up to Christmas this joins exclusive performance from Sadler's Wells and a new film documenting the artistic and cultural legacy of this legendary company on BBC Four.

The Balletboyz, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, handpick the most exciting talent they can find; a dynamic mix of professional and amateur dancers, all of them drawn from radically different modern dance styles including Tango, Street, Contemporary and Pole Dancing.

Following a brief selection process, the boys put together a unique company for this radical new interpretation of Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring to be shown on BBC Three.

The film traces the history for Stravinsky's seminal work which famously provoked riots in Paris at its premiere in 1913. Presented by the Balletboyz, the film culminates in a version of the work and offers an insight into the entire creative process.

It features interviews with the choreographers Paul Roberts and Freddie Opoku-Addaie and the dancers themselves in addition to behind-the-scenes footage following the development of the project from the selection process, intensive rehearsal period and performance.

Danny Cohen, Controller of BBC Three, says: "BBC Three wants to keep building its reputation for innovative Arts events. The Balletboyz' contemporary energy feels like a fantastic way for us to do this over the holidays."

Richard Klein, Controller of BBC Four, says: "The combination of one of the most inventive and musically exciting ballet scores being performed by one of Britain's foremost dance groups will doubtless ensure a great watch.

"And I am delighted that we are exploring the heritage of Ballet Russes through what promises to be a compelling documentary as well as through live performance."

Peter Maniura, Head of Classical Music Television and Dance, says: "It was new, it was shocking, it was beautiful, it was the Ballet Russes and it was the birth of modern dance. A century on, BBC Three and BBC Four audiences will have the chance to sample this rich cocktail of emotion in a series of specially commissioned programmes which tell the story of their immense cultural legacy through both documentary and performance."

BBC Four televises a celebration of Diaghilev from London's Sadler's Wells showcasing some of today's most acclaimed choreographers.

For the latest Sadlers Wells production, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Javier de Frutos, Russell Maliphant and Wayne McGregor and have each created new works reflecting upon the collaborative influence of the Ballets Russes and evoking the essence of the ground-breaking impresario Diaghilev himself.

Each choreographer will work with all or part of their own companies for this tribute production marking the Ballets Russes centenary.

In The Spirit of Diaghilev is broadcast on BBC Four in December.

A new film commissioned for BBC Four traces the legacy of the Ballets Russes and its enduring influence on dance, art and culture. For Art's Sake – The Story Of Ballets Russes explores Diaghilev's role as ringmaster and brings to life the story of this extraordinary impresario whose remarkable ability to bring artists together resulted in the creation of a company whose cultural impact can be traced across 20th century design, choreography, music and art.

Contributors include Wayne Eagling, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, designer Jasper Conran and Frederic Franklin who performed with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo for 20 years and saw the Ballets Russes perform in 1929.

The Ballets Russes season includes another opportunity to see Riot At The Rite, a dramatisation of events around the notorious premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring.

Adam Garcia stars as Vaslav Nijinsky, arguably the greatest male ballet dancer of all time and Alex Jennings is the great Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballet Russes, for whom Nijinsky worked as a pioneering choreographer as well as dancer.

The cast also includes Aidan McArdle, Rachel Stirling, Emma Pierson and Griff Rhys Jones as the owner of the Theatre Champs Elysees where the premiere was staged and who was bankrupted by the event.

The Finnish National Ballet and Zenaida Yanowsky perform the ballet and Osmo Vanska directs the BBC Symphony Orchestra, in what was a new recording of Stravinsky's work made for the drama.

Riot at the Rite was first broadcast on BBC Two in 2006.

Notes to Editors

In The Spirit Of Diaghilev – BBC Four, December, tbc.

A Sadler's Wells production, performed at Sadler's Wells, 13-17 October

This is a BBC Wales Music / Axiom Films co-production in association with Sadler's Wells.

Wayne McGregor's Dyad 1909 was inspired by Shackleton's Nimrod expedition to the South Pole in 1909, the year that the Ballets Russes was created.

The work is a collaboration with acclaimed artists and filmmakers Jane and Louise Wilson.

In Faun – Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui examines the animalistic nature of human movement and the power of mythology. This new duet takes an alternative look at Stephane Mallerme's poem, Debussy's music and Nijinsky's choreography. With additional music by Nitin Sawhney and costumes by leading fashion designer Hussein Chalayan.

Russell Maliphant was inspired by Vaslav Nijinsky's geometric drawings and paintings in his piece After Light which features animation by onedotzero and lighting by renowned designer Michael Hulls.

Olivier award-winner Javier De Frutos, has created a cautionary fable inspired by Cocteau's scenarios and designs for Les Ballets Russes and set to music including Maurice Ravel's La Valse and the Waltz from Mother Goose.

For Art's Sake: The Story Of Ballets Russes is a BBC Wales production – BBC Four, December, tbc.


Information for viewers

More content about For Art's Sake – The Story Of Ballets Russes will be published, as transmission approaches, on this page:

Information for viewers

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