Ashley Page, the outgoing artistic director of Scottish Ballet, has been handed the final Herald Archangel of the Edinburgh festivals 2011, amid intimations that he is to return to work with the Edinburgh International Festival in the future.
The Archangel recognises “consistent excellence” at the Edinburgh festivals. A choreographer and one-time dancer with the Royal Ballet, Page is to leave Scottish Ballet, against his own wishes, before 2012′s festival.
Giving the award, Keith Bruce, arts editor of The Herald, said: “Ashley Page has brought Scottish Ballet back into the programmes of the international festival with the high standard of work the company has produced under his leadership. From a Balanchine triple-bill in 2005 through to this year’s revival of Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of Earth and the commissioning of Jorma Elo’s Kings 2 Ends, Page has given a Scottish national company a place in the nation’s prime showcase.”
Last November’s revelation that Page will leave Scottish Ballet came as a shock to the dance community. As reported at the time in The Stage, he is seen as having revived a flagging and moribund company which was not of sufficient standard to appear at the EIF.
The EIF artistic director Jonathan Mills spoke to The Stage of the award and Page’s departure, saying: “I think it is important not to let ones understandable emotion and disappointment at Ashley not continuing to be in charge of Scottish Ballet to colour the pleasure that I have in him receiving this very distinguished reward. It is due to his own dedication, his own leadership, his capacity to nurture his company, his maturity and understanding as a dancer and a choreographer.”
Mills added that Page’s move from the company “doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t be working with him again. Somebody of his capacity, his generosity and skill not only deserves to be cherished but also deserves to be encouraged to make more work with us.”
Speaking to The Stage, Page confirmed that he will be staying in Glasgow and is looking to continue working in Scotland.
He said: “I am talking to various institutions about doing that and we are all very keen for that to happen. I also want to extend my range. What I have learned at Scottish Ballet was full-length narrative work. Nutcracker was my first full length narrative ballet, made just after I had started here. The success of that and the success of what I have done since has made me much more interested in that.”
He added that not having to run a company a daily basis will free him up to examine the possibility of directing theatre, opera or film. He has also started working on a new piece for San Francisco Ballet which will be premiered in March.
Herald Angels were given to director Kally Lloyd-Jones of Company Chordelia for her collaboration with Scottish Opera on a new production of The Seven Deadly Sins by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, and Tim Supple for his multi-lingual production of One Thousand and One Nights, running at the Royal Lyceum. Further Angels went to the RSNO’s leader James Clark, the Heath Quartet, drama teacher Frances Paterson and artist David Mach.