David Bintley: ‘The Tempest is about a man who’s lived off the idea of revenge’

The Birmingham Royal Ballet choreographer on adapting Shakespeare, the challenge of forgiveness and the importance of stories in dance

David Bintley is a choreographer, and since 1995 has been artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet. Born in a Pennine village, he trained at the Royal Ballet school, where he created his first dance pieces. These were seen and admired by Sir Frederick Ashton, the Royal Ballet’s founder choreographer. “He’s the only one,” Ashton said, in recognition of the teenage student’s talent. Now 59, Bintley remains a prolific dance-maker, working in both the abstract and narrative genres. His latest work for BRB is a full-length version of The Tempest.

Why did you choose to turn this Shakespeare play into a ballet?
The Tempest is so full of poetry and imagery, and the characters are so enticing, choreographically. I read it constantly, and re-read the pertinent scene before every rehearsal. We’ve just been working on Caliban’s dream: “Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises/ Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.” It’s Caliban’s great moment of perception. A creature who has always been treated as an animal, talking about heaven.

Today, there’s a move back from the ultra-physical towards emotion in ballet

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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