Interviews Selective News Items

Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s Director, on celebrating the companies 50th anniversary in 2019 & future plans

Chris Hampson.<br />© Helen Maybanks. (Click image for larger version)
Chris Hampson.
© Helen Maybanks. (Click image for larger version)
Full details of SB’s fiftieth anniversary plans
Gallery – 50th Anniversary Season Launch in London

Scottish Ballet have just announced plans for their Fiftieth Anniversary in 2019, including three world premieres – the full press release is included at the bottom of this page.

An important time for the company and we briefly touch-base with CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson about the celebrations and what happens beyond…

Next year Scottish Ballet are celebrating 50 Years of innovation and creativity. How did you go about choosing what to do?

The most important element was choosing how to celebrate 50 years of being Scotland’s national dance company, and we have embarked on a major commissioning programme to ensure firm foundations for the next five decades. We are launching Five in Five, an ambitious aim to create five full-evening works over five years. Alongside this, we’ll perform a World Premiere, Dextera, by our Artist in Residence, Sophie Laplane with even more premieres happening as part of our Digital Season 2019.

Claire Souet & Barnaby Rook Bishop in Sophie Laplane's Oxymore - her first stunning work for the company and danced at the 50th Anniversary Season Launch in London.© Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)
Claire Souet & Barnaby Rook Bishop in Sophie Laplane’s Oxymore – her first stunning work for the company and danced at the 50th Anniversary Season Launch in London.
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)

You recently, and secretly, previewed The Crucible to hundreds of company friends at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal. A good idea – what did you learn?

It was a vital part of the research process in creating this new production. We gave three previews with adjustments each night – they were considered as ‘working rehearsals’. We also invited the audience to give feedback directly after the performance and myself, Helen (Pickett – the choreographer) and our Artistic Team listened in to hear, first-hand, how they reacted to the presentation. Helen is a very brave choreographer indeed to do that! But, it helps us improve and refine our story-telling, ensuring we’re achieving the best for the production. It’s a huge investment to commission a full-evening work, and we want to make sure we’re giving it due attention.

Scottish Ballet presents <I>The Crucible</I>, by Helen Pickett.<br />© Scottish Ballet. (Click image for larger version)
Scottish Ballet presents The Crucible, by Helen Pickett.
© Scottish Ballet. (Click image for larger version)

The coming season is the first of five when you plan major full-evening premieres each year. Sounds bold – tell us what you can…

It is a very bold statement, and the confidence with which it’s made comes from knowing that Scottish Ballet can absolutely deliver this amount of creative output. We have an excellent team both at our HQ at Tramway and our Artistic and Technical Teams on the road. We start next year with The Crucible, choreographed by Helen Pickett, which will receive its World Premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival. Next up is my production of The Snow Queen, conceived with and designed by Lez Brotherston. This is only my second creation for Scottish Ballet, but one that will see me working with a group of dancers I’ve come to know very well! For the rest of the Five in Five, you’ll have to ‘watch this space’. They’re almost mapped out, but a few steps to go before a further reveal.

Poster images for Spring!, Digital Season, <I>The Crucible</I> and <I>The Snow Queen</I>.<br />© Scottish Ballet. (Click image for larger version)
Poster images for Spring!, Digital Season, The Crucible and The Snow Queen.
© Scottish Ballet. (Click image for larger version)

Quite rightly there is now much emphasis on giving equal measure to female choreographers and creatives – how are Scottish Ballet responding?

Scottish Ballet has consistently engaged female choreographers, designers and conductors. Since my tenure, we have been commissioning work every season. Consistency is key! Furthermore, Helen Pickett’s production of The Crucible will make this our second full-length work by a female choreographer, alongside Anabelle Lopez-Ochoa’s A Streetcar Named Desire from 2012. Today, I can’t see any reason why our commissioning wouldn’t be this balanced; there are excellent creative voices out there, both male and female.

Christopher Hampson, introducing the 50th Anniversary Season to London friends and supporters of the company.© Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)
Christopher Hampson, introducing the 50th Anniversary Season to London friends and supporters of the company.
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)

Where is ballet as an artform going – what are the big challenges facing ballet over the next 20 years?

On the whole, ballet is looking great. It’s an engaged art-form with a vibrant and talented generation of dancers and dance makers well suited to this digital age. However, changing attitudes towards well-being and appropriate behaviour in the workplace are the biggest immediate challenges. Ballet inhabits a relatively small part of the creative industries, and I believe this has allowed attitudes towards ‘ways of working’ to remain unchanged, unchallenged and unchecked. But, times have moved on, and in a highly-connected world with a generation of young people that place value in shared experiences more than status, it is important we reflect that in how we work with and foster creativity.

Press Release: 10 October 2018

Scottish Ballet celebrates 50th anniversary with a spirited 2019/2020 season and says ‘thank you’ to Scotland by making five special wishes come true!

Poster images for Spring!, Digital Season, <I>The Crucible</I> and <I>The Snow Queen</I>.<br />© Scottish Ballet. (Click image for larger version)
Poster images for Spring!, Digital Season, The Crucible and The Snow Queen.
© Scottish Ballet. (Click image for larger version)
  • Scottish Ballet announces its ambitious 2019/2020 season including the world premieres of Helen Pickett’s The Crucible opening the Edinburgh International Festival dance programme in 2019, and Christopher Hampson’s The Snow Queen in Winter 2019.
  • Scottish Ballet wants to thank the people of Scotland for making the company what it is today and will make five wishes come true for the nation in 2019.
  • The special anniversary season receives its grand opening in the Highlands, at Eden Court in Inverness on Thursday 28 March with Spring!, a double bill of Sophie Laplane’s world premiere Dextera and Elite Syncopations choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan.
  • Scottish Ballet will present its second Digital Season in 2019, with a series of commissioned films, live streams and virtual reality experiences including the work of the company’s first Digital Artist in Residence, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom.
  • To create new work on an unprecedented scale, Scottish Ballet launches Five in Five, the most ambitious commissioning programme in the company’s history aiming to stage five new full-length ballets in five years.
  • Priority booking for Friends of Scottish Ballet is now open, with public on-sale from 10am on Monday 22 October 2018 at

Today, Wednesday 10 October, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop and Scottish Ballet’s CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson reveal the spirited and ambitious programme for the company’s 2019/2020 season, including three world premieres.

Founded in 1969, Scotland’s national dance company celebrates 50 years of inspiring audiences on stage and beyond in 2019, with a creative vision crafted by Scotland.

A first for 2019, the company will launch their 50th season in the Highlands. There will be a celebratory opening of the double bill Spring! at Inverness’ Eden Court on Thursday 28 March, followed by a party everyone in the audience is invited to!

Dextera is a world premiere of a new work by Scottish Ballet Resident Choreographer Sophie Laplane, with music by Mozart performed by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra. Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s 35-minute long antidote to blues, Elite Syncopations, forms the second part of the bill with its virtuoso heights of sexy, witty psychedelia and frothy ragtime nonchalance. MacMillan’s choreography spans the decades, melding 1920s social dances with classical ballet and uses music from ragtime composers, including Scott Joplin, as a perfect accompaniment. Following three dates in Inverness, Spring! will tour to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh in April and May 2019.

Sophie Laplane, creating one of the new works in the 50th Season.© Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)
Sophie Laplane, creating one of the new works in the 50th Season.
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)


After an award-winning inaugural presentation in 2017, the Digital Season returns for a month-long programme of work featuring short films, live streams, virtual reality experiences and digitally driven projects to enhance, alter and inform the way we experience dance. Existing in a society where the real and unreal are one in the same, and Artificial Intelligence has developed its own human nature, the Digital Season explores our grasp of reality, identity, and transformation.

As the company’s first Digital Artist in Residence, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom will work from within Scottish Ballet to create bespoke artworks for the Digital Season and beyond. A Glasgow-based sculptor, Zachary uses digital technologies such as 3D scanning, digital 3D modelling and 3D printing to transform traditional sculptural materials such as bronze, marble and ceramic.


Arthur Miller’s masterpiece of power and persecution, The Crucible is transformed into a gripping new ballet with choreography by Helen Pickett and a haunting new musical score from Peter Salem, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra. The ballet will receive its world premiere at Edinburgh’s Playhouse, opening the Edinburgh International Festival dance programme in 2019. The ballet will then tour to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness in September and October 2019.


Fans of Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale – which also inspired Frozen – will be delighted at the announcement of The Snow Queen as Scottish Ballet’s glittering winter show. With a specially adapted score from works by Rimsky Korsakov this spectacular world premiere is an inspiring story of love and friendship, driven by three central female characters. Choreographed by the company’s CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson and designed by award-winning Lez Brotherston, The Snow Queen will join Scottish Ballet’s highly popular family repertoire and tour to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle following an opening at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre on Saturday 7 December 2019. The performances will be accompanied by an extensive community engagement programme in schools and care homes across Scotland.


For 50 years Scottish Ballet has been crafted by Scotland – by the people, the tradition, the sense of humour, the generosity and the spirit. As a way of saying thank you to the whole country, Scottish Ballet is inviting the people of Scotland to Make a Wish! It can be anything from the dancers performing at a birthday party or on the banks of Loch Ness, or even the chance to get on stage and be part of a Scottish Ballet show. The public are encouraged to submit their wishes at and, following a public vote and the consideration of the judging panel including Susan Calman, Fred MacAulay, Dame Darcey Bussell, Christopher Hampson, Janice Forsyth and Principal Dancer Christopher Harrison, Scottish Ballet will make five wishes come true throughout 2019.


A dance company lives by its ability to produce adventurous, relevant and entertaining work and Scottish Ballet recognises that investing in new repertoire is crucial in being able to sustain excellence. Therefore, in an ambitious new commissioning programme called Five in Five, Scottish Ballet will commission and stage five new full-length ballets over five years; one for every decade of the company’s history. Presenting new work will encourage the Company’s existing audiences to keep returning and new audiences to try something different. This will also reinforce Scottish Ballet as one of the most daring and pioneering dance companies. The world premieres of The Crucible and The Snow Queen will be the first two of the five new commissions. In total, the company seeks to raise £5 million over five years to deliver these five new productions and associated access and engagement programmes.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said:
‘As Scotland’s national dance company, Scottish Ballet makes an extraordinary contribution to our cultural landscape, on stage and beyond. Scottish Ballet showcases our nation’s creative spirit at its highest level to local and international audiences, while also delivering some excellent work with health and education partners to communities across Scotland. I am pleased to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary and look forward to seeing this exciting programme of activity in 2019.’

CEO/Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, Christopher Hampson said:
‘Scottish Ballet forged new ground in 1969, and we continue to promote Scotland’s pioneering spirit in everything that we do. We embrace our 50th anniversary with an unprecedented programme of new work, affirming our commitment to be one of the most daring dance companies in the world.’

Dame Darcey Bussell said:‘
I am excited to be on the judging panel for Scottish Ballet’s Make A Wish campaign to help share the magic of ballet with people across Scotland in the company’s 50th year. I look forward to seeing lots of wonderful wish ideas and am sure there will be some really personal and imaginative ones for us to choose from.’

James MacKenzie-Blackman, Chief Executive of Eden Court, Inverness, said:
‘Audiences from across the Highlands and Islands travel from far and wide to see Scottish Ballet in Inverness, and we are thrilled and honoured that the company has chosen to open their milestone 50th anniversary season at Eden Court. Together, we will be hosting an opening night party for artists and audiences to mark our special partnership and recognise the critical contribution our organisations make to creativity across the Highlands and Islands.’

Edinburgh International Festival Director Fergus Linehan said:
‘Scottish Ballet has been inspiring audiences at the International Festival with unforgettable performances since the 1970s and we’re thrilled to welcome back the company as it celebrates 50 years. It’s especially exciting to open our 2019 dance programme together with a premiere of this scale and scope and we look forward to sharing The Crucible with audiences from all over the world’.

Choreographer of The Crucible, Helen Pickett said:‘
It has been an incredible collaborative process working with Scottish Ballet to bring my vison of Arthur Miller’s play to the stage. I am working with an exceptional creative team, Peter Salem, James Bonas, Emma Kingsbury and David Finn, and together we have translated this iconic drama into the powerful medium of dance. We are honoured to present The Crucible at the Edinburgh International Festival among the very best arts companies in the world.’

Resident Choreographer, and Creator of Dextera, Sophie Laplane said:
‘Having immersed myself within Scottish Ballet as a dancer and resident choreographer, I wanted to embody the company’s creativity and hard work by kickstarting their anniversary season with an energetic new piece that celebrates the company’s craft. I’m excited to work with Scottish Ballet Orchestra to score Dextera to Mozart, to form a vibrant body of work as part of the Spring! double bill.’

Digital Artist in Residence, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom said:
‘This digital residency allows me to delve deeply into a world of new ideas and approaches that I have been itching to develop. Using digital technologies such as 3D scanning and Motion Capture, I will explore bodily movement and the space between dancers through a range of media. Scottish Ballet is a very rich and exciting environment to work in and I think the Digital Season will reflect that.’


Notes to Editors:

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Priority booking for all productions for Friends of Scottish Ballet are available from Wednesday 10 October.
Public on-sale from Monday 22 October, with tickets for The Crucible dates at Edinburgh International Festival available after the Festival’s programme launch in March 2019.


To kickstart their 50th anniversary year, Scottish Ballet presents a fresh double bill fizzing with energy and guaranteed to send you home smiling. Resident choreographer Sophie Laplane will premiere her latest work, Dextera. Her trademark edgy style promises a tour de force of creative ideas, set to the music of Mozart. Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations is an irresistible carnival of colourful characters. This much-loved whirl of 1920s dance hall glitz is set to a series of Scott Joplin’s tunes, performed live by an onstage ragtime band.

Eden Court, Inverness: 28-30 March
Theatre Royal, Glasgow: 4-6 April
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen: 11-13 April
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh: 2-4 May

The Crucible

Arthur Miller’s drama of power and persecution.

The village of Salem stands on the brink. A teenage girl imagines her future. A marriage is tested. Church bells ring, uniting the community in prayer. These are good people; this could be anywhere. They fear the shadows in the forest, but the real monsters are much closer to home. You’ll be on the edge of your seat watching this tight-knit society unravel into chaos. Ask yourself: when everything is in the balance, what are you prepared to pay for the truth? Helen Pickett’s choreography unleashes the emotional force of Miller’s masterpiece, vividly accompanied by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra performing Peter Salem’s haunting new score.

Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019. (On sale dates announced in March 2019)
Theatre Royal, Glasgow: 26-28 September
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen: 3-5 October
Eden Court, Inverness: 9-10 October

The Snow Queen

Scottish Ballet’s 50th year will come to a spectacular close with the world premiere of The Snow Queen. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale – which was also the basis for Frozen – this glittering new production will be set to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra. Choreographed by Christopher Hampson and designed by the award-winning Lez Brotherston, this story of love and friendship is sure to delight the whole family.

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh: 7-29 December
Theatre Royal, Glasgow: 3-19 January 2020
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen: 22-26 January 2020
Eden Court, Inverness: 29 January – 2 February 2020
Theatre Royal, Newcastle (On sale dates announced in 2019)

About Scottish Ballet

Scottish Ballet, founded in 1969, is Scotland’s national dance company. In 2019 the company celebrates 50 years of inspiring audiences on stage and beyond, with a creative vision crafted by Scotland. Based in Glasgow, the company performs regularly across Scotland, and increasingly throughout the UK and internationally – promoting Scotland’s pioneering spirit far and wide.

Under CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet presents bold, adventurous performances rooted in strong classical technique, accompanied by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra. The company’s broad repertoire includes new versions of the classics and ground-breaking commissions, as well as an innovative digital season every two years. An extensive engagement programme, tailored to the needs of diverse communities, promotes confidence, fosters well-being and encourages creativity through dance.

Scottish Ballet is funded by the Scottish Government.

About the author

Bruce Marriott

Bruce Marriott is editor of DanceTabs. For non-dance stuff he can be found at

1 Comment

  • That poster shot for The Crucible encourages me to think that this new piece will have none of the outlandish staging and costumes that William Tuckett’s version for the Royal Ballet had some 15- 20 years ago. Please, Lord, let it be so! Otherwise, my congratulations to Scottish Ballet on reaching its 50th Anniversary – a pity I wasn’t tuned-in to ballet back at its start in Glasgow.

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