Royal Ballet to welcome in BBC cameras

Liz Thomas

Acclaimed filmmaker Lucy Blakstad is developing a fly-on-the-wall style documentary for the BBC to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Ballet.

The production will follow upcoming performers at the Royal Ballet School as they face demanding schedules, success, disappointment and intense competition. The institution feeds into the prestigious dance company and other leading international organisations.

A Corporation spokesperson said: “The documentary is part of the BBC’s long-standing partnership with the Royal Ballet. BBC cameras go behind the scenes in this revealing film, which explores the passion and determination shown by dancers and students of this world famous institution.”

Directed by award-winning Blakstad, best known for her work on acclaimed BBC series Imagine, Naked and Modern Times, its working title is The Royal Ballet Documentary. It is understood the production will broadcast in November alongside a recording of recent Royal Ballet production Giselle, which stars former pupil Alina Cojocaru and was filmed at the Royal Opera House.

The move comes at a time when the Corporation is keen to show support for the arts and underline its commitment to public service broadcasting ahead of Charter Renewal. The BBC is demanding a licence fee settlement of around 2.3% above inflation and the government is expected to make its final decision on the levy by the end of the year. The last major Corporation documentary into an arts institution, The House, which broadcast in 2000 famously disclosed the rifts and acrimony behind the scenes at the ROH, home to the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet.

The school was founded in 1926 when Dame Ninette de Valois opened her Academy of Choreographic Art. Later, in 1931, she collaborated with Old Vic manager Lilian Bayliss to create a repertory ballet company as well.

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