Ballet Under The Stars charity dress rehearsal inspires a new generation

Two little ballerinas as the dress rehearsal. Hatch House Presents Ballet Under the Stars. Photo by Alice Pennefather.

A wonderful opportunity for aspiring dancers to attend a dress rehearsal of Ballet Under The Stars at Hatch House near Tisbury

IN AID OF THE DICKY BUCKLE FUND, a charity set up to help young choreographers create original new works and bring them to the stage, last week saw 350 young children with their parents and grandparents, come to admire the dancers practise in the sunshine at Hatch House, the stunning setting in Wiltshire.
This year, dancers finally came together, after three years of absence, to create a diverse mixed bill of 12 ballet performances for The Covent Garden Dance Company, and share it with the young, well-behaved audience.

Hortense Pajtler and Nathan Bisson of the Paris Opera Ballet, dancing Flower Festival in Genzano. Hatch House Presents Ballet Under the Stars. Photo by Alice Pennefather.
Stars from The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Ukraine, English National Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, and the Paris Opera Ballet went on to perform classical and contemporary works to an audience of over 1,350 people on the Friday night and over the weekend. The weather even stayed dry.
“It was a mixed bill of short works,” said Matt Brady, Director of the Covent Garden Dance Company, and the inspiration behind Ballet Under The Stars.

Fabian Reimair, first soloist of the English National Ballet, and Fernanda Oliveira Principal of the English National Ballet, in Opposites Attract. Hatch House Presents Ballet Under the Stars. Photo by Alice Pennefather.
“The idea is to give a performance that is attractive to everyone, even the most hardened ‘balletomanes’ – people who see ballet and dance all the time. I want to encourage everyone to come, because very often ballet has an image of tights and jockstraps and elitism etc., which it shouldn’t. Ballet Under The Stars isn’t just ballet: it’s ballet and dance. It’s contemporary AND neoclassical. It’s diverse, and it works. The idea of the programme is to have that beautiful sort of flow; you don’t know what’s coming next; punctuated with courses of dinner and wine, means wait for three minutes and, much like the British weather, there’s something else.”
Celebrating the audience ‘being back’ and grateful to fans for having stayed with their ticket bookings. “I can’t deny I have performance nerves. When we gave our first performance at Hatch House in 2011, it was to just 95 people. Now it’s 1,350 over three nights, though I’d like to do five. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. When the music starts, even at the rehearsals, it’s like, ‘Oh! This is why I do it!’ and it’s such a wonderful feeling.”
Named after the exuberant ballet critic Richard Buckle, The Dicky Buckle Fund is a small but dynamic arts charity started in 2011 by Matt, designed to support creative work, to help further education in the arts and to broaden access to dance in general.
“We want to give small grants to young and emerging artists, because we need to look forward, and always need to create new work to be able to produce new and exciting programmes,” said Matt. “It’s about putting back into the artistic process. For instance, Opposites Attract was composed and choreographed by Fabian Reimair, which he then danced with Fernanda Oliveira, both from the English National Ballet. The Dicky Buckle Fund helped support them, their studio time and costumes. I just feel it’s important to be able to give licence to create what they want to do and how. This was the first time I got to see what they created.”
Everyone on the afternoon of the rehearsal was enthralled. “It’s unique. My granddaughter and her friend are so in awe”; “what a beautiful afternoon: this has been my daughter’s idea of heaven,” were among the many comments. “I’ve never seen so many children in one area captivated and well-behaved,” said Shelly Hunt, aunt to Lily.
Donations towards the charity continue long after the performance is over. “I want to say thank you to everyone, you have been incredibly generous this year,” says Matt. He then turned, picked up another phone call and began planning for 2023.

Two little ballerinas as the dress rehearsal. Hatch House Presents Ballet Under the Stars. Photo by Alice Pennefather.

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