Star Rising: Ruth Brill

As well as having the best posture of any person we've ever met in real life, choreographer Ruth Brill's got her first commission, Arcadia, premiering in full this week. We've been chatting about the production, the company and the city that has seen her career sparkle and shine.

On Birmingham Royal Ballet

"This is my first formal commission from Birmingham Royal Ballet, so there's a certain amount of pressure and expectation that comes with that.

"With everything I have done, David Bintley [BRB's Artistic Director] has allowed me the creative space to do it. As a choreographer himself, he realises the need for me to learn from the process.

"A huge advantage of creating a piece in a ‘safe environment’ is that I know everyone in the company. I know what each person can bring to the role. As a dancer myself [Ruth remains First Artist for the company], seeing the process from the other side has completely changed my perception of both roles."

On Arcadia
"The initial vision for Arcadia came from the music. David gave me a piece by John Harle as the starting point. The choreographer is at the heart of the creative process, pulling many different elements together — I worked closely with the lighting designer, costume and set designer, composer and dancers to create something that's completely my vision, but on the other hand has been taken somewhere I could never have dreamt it would end up."

On being a woman in the industry

"Personally, I don’t feel like I've experienced anything that's held me back in terms of progressing in my career, but there’s no denying that when looking at the leadership roles within dance, it's predominantly men. 

"I do sometimes feel like I'm flying the flag for female choreographers. I don’t understand why there should be a glass ceiling for women in this industry, as there's so many more women that go into it.

"One of the attributes required to succeed in dance is the ability to embrace opportunities, even if failure is a possibility. Women often start their careers as Swans [in the corps de ballet for Swan Lake] so are encouraged to not stand out and look the same as everyone else. As a minority in terms of numbers, maybe the men coming into the industry already have a capacity for individualism."

On Birmingham
"I’ve been with BRB for five years now. I grew up in Kent and graduated into the English National Ballet. When I was considering moving to Birmingham, the company was a very attractive option, they have such an expansive repertoire. Also the atmosphere of the city was brilliant, everyone is so grounded and friendly here. It definitely hit me and I thought ‘this is a place I really want to be’. Birmingham's really growing at the moment and it feels like an exciting time for the city — so much has changed even since I moved here. But the city can still shout more about everything it’s doing, it can go even further."

Arcadia is premiering as part of Three Short Story Ballets at Birmingham Hippodrome June 21 to 24. Tickets are available here.

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