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A looks thoughtfully at something in the distance whilst standing in a dance studio.

Benjamin Ella interview

Last week we welcomed Choreographer and Royal Ballet Soloist Benjamin Ella to the studio to begin work on his new piece for Generations: Three Short Ballets. We caught up with him between rehearsals to find more about the ballet: 

How has your first week at Northern Ballet been?  

My first week at Northern Ballet has been a whirlwind! An incredible week with incredible dancers, staff and musicians. 

We are all still getting to know each other but it’s been great working with such a supportive and constructive team that are all so ready to create something to the best of all of our abilities. I’m feeling very grateful. 

A choreographer to the left mirrors a dancers position, one arm and one leg in front.
Benjamin Ella in a white T-shirt and black trousers with his arms straight out either side of this body and looking to his left
Choreographer standing, one arm folded in front of him, the other with a hand in a thoughtful position in front of his mouth

What inspired your work for Generations: Three Short Ballets?

So far in my choreographic career the inspiration has always grown from the music. This ballet is inspired by some piano and violin pieces composed by Jean Sibelius which are very beautiful.  

I’ve put eight different pieces together in my own order in a way that I feel gives a nice flow and journey to the piece as a whole, as well as giving lots of opportunity to show off the dancers. There is no story per se, but there is a soft narrative that charges throughout, a kind of poem or epigram of feelings, emotions and connections.

Have a listen to Jean Sibelius’s music on Spotify. 

A choreographer stands in front of a group of dancers instructing them
Choreographer marks out a position he want two onlooking dancers to perform.
Dancers holding their pose while the choreographer looks on.

Have you had a chance to explore the city between rehearsals?

This wasn’t my first visit to Leeds, maybe my fifth I think? Although this is my longest visit to Leeds so I still feel like I’m getting to know it. I always love looking up some foodie gems in any city I visit and so far my favourite gem is the noodle house on Merrion Street. The char sui was so good there!

Choreographer leaning slightly to his back, arms spread with palms facing upwards

What do you hope audiences will take away from your piece at its UK première in September?

I hope audiences just enjoy my ballet and perhaps head home humming some of the beautiful tunes of Sibelius with a smile.

See Benjamin Ella’s piece as part of Generations: Three Short Ballets at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds from the 8-16 September and at the Linbury Theatre, London from the 31 October – 2 November. Find out more and book here.

Benjamin Ella and Northern Ballet dancers in rehearsals for Generations: Three Short Ballets. Photos Ellis Dytrych.

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