Birmingham Royal Ballet in BBC TV world premiere

Director turns presenter to examine the roots of dance.

Birmingham Royal Ballet Director David Bintley is swapping the Birmingham Hippodrome stage for The Palace of Versailles in his latest TV appearance. Following on from the success of the March 2014 documentary Dancing in the Blitz: How World War II Made British Ballet, David Bintley presents his second programme for BBC Four for which he goes back in time to 17th Century France to discover the roots of classical ballet as we know it.

Filmed over the last year, The King Who Invented Ballet is a 60 minute documentary which shows how Louis XIV’s patronage and passion for dance brought about the evolution of ballet from an instrument of propaganda in the French royal court into a professional art form in its own right.

Framed through Bintley’s own fascination with Louis XIV, the film charts how ballet developed during the reign of Louis, also known as the Sun King, whilst also following Bintley’s creation of The King Dances, a brand new one-act ballet for Birmingham Royal Ballet which received its world premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome in June and which will receive its television world premiere on BBC FOUR directly following the documentary.

During Louis XIV’s reign, dance was central to the lives of the nobility. Louis, himself a keen dancer, ensured that it would develop into an art form that could be taught, preserved and shared, commissioning the invention of dance notation and the foundation of the world’s first ballet school – the Académie Royale de Danse.

The King Who Invented Ballet looks at the central social importance of dance in Louis’ era and features specially shot pieces that help to illustrate what 16th and 17th century dance was like and how it changed from being dominated by the male nobility to introducing the first professional female ballerinas- the pioneers of women in dance.

David Bintley also visits stunning locations including Waddesdon Abbey in Aylesbury, The Paris Opera, The Louvre, The Palace of Versailles and the Biblioteque Mazarine to bring to life the world of Louis XIV and explore the artistic and political legacy he left behind.

Bintley’s new ballet for Birmingham Royal Ballet, the 35 minute The King Dances explores Louis’ journey to kinghood. It is inspired by the Ballet de la Nuit, the seminal dance work from 1653 that introduced the fourteen year old Louis as the Rising Sun and the saviour of France after a period of civil war known as the Fronde.

Featuring an original score by Stephen Montague, costumes and deigns by Katrina Lindsay and lighting by Peter Mumford, The King Dances is performed by fourteen male dancers and one female dancer. It was filmed specially for its television world premiere on BBC FOUR at Birmingham Hippodrome in June 2015.