Monday, 15 October 2012

Kevin O'Hare

Kevin O’Hare, Guest Speaker Series, Royal Academy of Dance – 4th October
 
Artistic Director Kevin O’Hare talked to the Royal Academy of Dance about his performing career and plans for the Royal Ballet company.
 
O’Hare’s early training was more theatrical that balletic and he was involved in a number of festivals and TV shows, including 1976 film Bugsy Malone. In 1977, he joined White Lodge and later the Royal Ballet Upper School. He describes having a variety of different teachers; some focused on repertoire, some highlighted the importance of technique and placement, and others encouraged characterisation and performance quality. O’Hare wants to commission a similar variety of teachers to work with the Royal Ballet company.
 
Marianela Nunez in Swan Lake
Photo:Alice Pennefather, courtesy of ROH
On graduating, O’Hare joined Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet) and was promoted to Principal in 1990. He particularly remembers performing the opening night of Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet in an uncomfortably huge wig. For O’Hare, working with MacMillan was “a career highlight”.
 
In 2000, aged 35, O’Hare thought it was the right time to stop dancing. He was interested in arts management and took on a training position with the Royal Shakespeare Company. A year later, O’Hare returned to Birmingham Royal Ballet as Company Manager, taking on the same role at the Royal Ballet in 2004.
 
As artistic director, O'Hare is keen to nurture dancers through their career development post-retirement. O’Hare especially wants to encourage company members to use their expertise within the wider arts world. Indeed, the evening’s discussion opened with a film clip showing the diversity of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire; this was put together by current First Soloist Bennet Gartside who has recently discovered an interest in archiving and digital media.
 
O’Hare is also keen to use contemporary knowledge and technology to aid dancers in performance. He currently has a team of sports scientists working with the company in strength training.
 
The Royal Ballet has since opened its 2012/13 season with sell-out performances of Swan Lake (pictured). In November the company takes on modern works by Liam Scarlett, Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon, as well as a triple bill of MacMillan ballets.

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