London Children’s Ballet Appoints New Artistic Director Ruth Brill
Ruth Brill the new Artistic Director of London Children’s Ballet
After 25 successful years at the helm, Lucille Briance MBE is stepping down as Artistic Director of London Children’s Ballet, the organisation she founded in 1994. From the outset, Lucille’s vision was to create a professional standard ballet company to give a unique performance opportunity to talented young dancers from all backgrounds. Its two core principles – that the Company would cast based on performance talent rather than body shape, and that LCB would charge no fee to participate, it would fundraise to cover costs – means that LCB stands alone in the world of ballet opportunities for children. These principles, coupled with the Company’s prolific commissioning of original new narrative ballets from emerging choreographers, composers and designers and its sell-out popularity with audiences, have given LCB the outstanding reputation for excellence it has today.
Lucille Briance MBE, on her 25 years leading LCB:
“After 25 years I am immensely proud of London Children’s Ballet and very grateful for the generous support of ballet teachers and professional dancers who have made the LCB dream possible. Together we have inspired and encouraged generations of dancers to excel, or be the best they can be, to reap the rewards of commitment and hard work. We have enabled parents who were often in the dark about their child’s talent, to better understand their child’s dance ability and steer them in the most promising direction. Equally important, LCB productions have opened the beautiful world of ballet and orchestral music to thousands of children in our young audiences. By choosing popular classic children’s stories, LCB has attracted a non-ballet audience; then our shorter format with scenarios written to maintain action and tuneful scores – makes converts of newcomers. At least for our audiences, LCB has annulled the ‘elitist’ misconception that prevails generally. It is a joy that LCB productions are great popular and critical success.
“I have come to the conclusion after 25 years of open auditions that ballet is grossly misunderstood and undervalued as a hobby by the public funding sector and to some extent also by the general public. Ballet, perhaps because it can be so beautiful, is perceived as elitist, whereas I know the opposite to be true. Every year families have flooded LCB auditions from every corner of the community: 80% of parents of dancers in our Company state that their children could only take part because LCB is a free experience. The wide range of mental, physical, and artistic gifts required to be a classical ballet dancer are so scarce to find in one person that the ballet industry welcomes with open arms any child who meets these criteria, whatever their social or financial circumstances.
I say ballet is undervalued because of the potential social good that dancing can contribute to communities: dancers learn discipline, self- control, the reward of teamwork, how to focus and work hard and ultimately gain important confidence and self- esteem.”
Cast members from the 2019 production of Ballet Shoes. L-R: Eve Austen-Marriott, Ruben Garcia, Amelia Magni, Lucille Briance, founder of LCB. Photo by Eric Richmond
Ruth Brill – who announced her retirement from Birmingham Royal Ballet earlier this year – has been named as Lucille’s successor. Ruth enjoyed a successful career first with English National Ballet then with Birmingham Royal Ballet as both a dancer and choreographer. She danced with London Children’s Ballet in four productions as a child and credits LCB as the inspiring factor that led her into a career in dance.
“It is a great honour to take on the role as Artistic Director with LCB. It is a company close to my heart. I was a member of the Company as a bright-eyed, eager 11 year old. Not only did I gain incredible performance experience, but I learned what it meant to be part of a company. This experience catapulted me into vocational training and then a ballet career with English National Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet. I have just ‘hung up my pointe shoes’. I love being on stage but I now want to create work and inspire others. Having just worked with LCB on ‘Ballet Shoes’ last season, it feels the perfect moment to join the team and guide this company into the future.
Lucille founded and built an incredible charity organisation with real soul. Year after year, I kept coming back to support LCB, and that LCB spirit is the reason why. Whether LCB inspires you to continue to pursue a career in dance, or whether it gives you skills which you then take on into any career, the LCB spirit never leaves you. I am committed to continue Lucille’s legacy and I will strive to develop new avenues in order to continue to provide young people, from all backgrounds, the chance to thrive through dance.”
Speaking on the appointment of Ruth Brill, Lucille said: “Ruth will be an inspiring Ambassador for LCB. She knows the LCB from the most critical perspective, as a child who herself danced with London Children’s Ballet. Widely known and respected in the dance world, she is passionate about creating opportunities for talented young dancers from all different backgrounds. I am tremendously excited to see her flourish in the new role.”