Burberry Inspire

We have worked with American Ballet Theatre to create four new dance films featuring professional dancers performing choreography inspired by students from West Yorkshire and New York City. The project is part of the Burberry Foundation’s Burberry Inspire programme, the first in-school arts and culture programme of its kind. This year the programme has supported students through innovative, virtual partnerships between Yorkshire and New York.

Filmed on location including recognisable landmarks such as The Hepworth Wakefield, Salts Mill and Times Square, the final films were overseen by Northern Ballet’s Artistic Director of Digital and Choreographer in Residence Kenneth Tindall. Performed by professional dancers from Northern Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, students from Castleford and Queens inspired the choreography for the films in a first for both ballet companies.

Kenneth Tindall said:

The collaboration between Northern Ballet, Burberry Inspire and American Ballet Theatre is a wonderful concept that is close to my heart. It was a project like this that sparked the imagination of a young working-class kid, in an inner-city school in London who otherwise would never have discovered the world of ballet. It’s an honour to have come full circle and be in the position I am in now, utilising my skills and creativity to try and engage and inspire the next generation as I was inspired all those years ago.

Leanne Kirkham, Director of Learning at Northern Ballet said:

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the unprecedented impact on every aspect of our lives has highlighted the importance of creativity as we’ve adjusted at home, at work and at play. With great challenge comes great opportunity and we wanted to share this ethos with young people by offering them a chance to work with professional dancers like never before. Pupils in Yorkshire and New York City have risen to the challenge and created some beautifully inspiring choreography which our dancers have loved bringing to life.”

The Burberry Foundation first launched Burberry Inspire in 2018 in Yorkshire, aiming to give young people a deep and varied experience of arts and culture whilst studying the impact of this on their development. During the first year of the programme, more than 4,000 young people benefitted from their experience of the creative arts, ranging from dance and theatre to filmmaking and sculpture with four Yorkshire arts organisations: Northern Ballet; The Hepworth Wakefield; Leeds Playhouse; and Leeds Young Film. Earlier this year, the Burberry Foundation expanded the programme internationally for the first time, launching in New York City with American Ballet Theatre, Reel Works and Studio in a School. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations from the Yorkshire and New York programmes came together to find new ways to inspire and support students in the midst of the pandemic virtually, with support from the Creative Arts Team (CAT) at CUNY and The Ideas Foundation.