Berwick Ballet Initiative’s ‘La Fille mal Gardee’

Girls and boys at schools across Berwick have had what for many will have been their first experience of ballet, courtesy of a project run by Ballet Pod.

Former professional ballet dancer, turned choreographer Richard Slaughter joined forces with Clare, Michael and Ann Wall in 2008 to create Ballet Pod - a dance company based in Wales that focuses on workshops as well as performance.

After leaving the Royal Ballet, having danced in most major productions at Covent Garden, Richard became freelance, joining London City Ballet where he met long term dance partner Ursula Hageli. They were much in demand on the international circuit, dancing the major classical ballets and an enormous variety of roles, repertoire and new works and were also principal dancers of the Royal Ballet Education Unit, staging numerous workshop days and ballet productions for children.

So for Richard to be tempted to come to Berwick to give workshops at local schools, and to continue to visit in order to help prepare the pupils of the Jane Keenan School of Dance for their performance of La Fille mal Gardee, is something of a coup for the town - made possible thanks to funding from the Simpson McCreath Trust.

“When I looked at how my kids loved it, this is what I always wanted and it was lovely that it was somebody who has danced with the Royal Ballet,” said Jane. “It has opened people’s eyes”

With the performance of ‘La Fille mal Gardee’ looming, Jane’s pupils have been working hard to raise the money for their costumes and many of you will have seen them bag packing - and occasionally giving an impromptu dance demonstration - at Tesco, Asda and Morrison supermarkets!

Thanks to one of the mums, Jackie Thompson, the costumes are now made, the props are sorted and Richard will be up at the weekend for final rehearsals before their two performances on the Maltings stage on Saturday, November 1.