Birmingham Royal Ballet Outreach / Dance4

A selection of photographs comprising two commissions capturing young dancers in Nottingham, UK.

I recently worked with The Renewal Trust, a nationally recognised regeneration charity in the city, to make portraits of young people from the St Ann’s and Sneinton neighbourhoods, participating in a week of intensive dance workshops with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Most of the young people taking part had no previous experience of theatre or performance and the project sought to break down barriers to Ballet, often perceived as an elitist and inaccessible art form. I made their portraits in the local environment and community centres, presenting themselves in ballet positions or captured in moments of pause among the everyday. These photographs express a growing confidence in the young people, receptive to new experiences. In addition to giving an introduction to dance, the programme was also about visiting and feeling at home in places, such as the Theatre Royal, from which many would more usually feel excluded – raising the possibility of moving from a sense of inferiority to one of inclusion and entitlement.

Presented alongside the Birmingham Royal Ballet outreach work are photographs commissioned by Dance4, an internationally recognised, experimental dance organisation with a strong regional programme. This series takes a look behind the scenes and weaves a visual narrative about the work the organisation does with artists, communities, young people and venues. The project also explores Dance4 in the context of Nottingham and demonstrates its dedication to the city and wider region.

CommissionsDavid Severn