Short film Empty Stage helps BRB to keep dance alive

Published: 20 February 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Birmingham Royal Ballet principals Mathias Dingman and Momoko Hirata in Empty Stage Credit: Impermanence
Birmingham Royal Ballet director Carlos Acosta Credit: Impermanence
Empty Stage composer and musician Benjamin Scheuer Credit: Impermanence

Birmingham Royal Ballet is continuing to find ways of keeping audiences entertained with the release of a short film, Carlos Acosta's first major digital commission for the company, Empty Stage.

Empty Stage is a “poignant, hope-filled response to COVID's impact on live performance and demonstrates Birmingham Royal Ballet's deep-rooted desire to keep ballet alive during difficult times”.

The film is directed by Roseanna Anderson and Joshua Ben-Tovim of dance company Impermanence. Named after a song by Benjamin Scheuer, the film features a host of Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers as well as some of the company members who stage a tribute to the industry.

Acosta, director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, said, “I wanted to make a film that told the story of the past nine months in a hopeful and optimistic way and to make it a work of art in its own right rather than a version of a live experience or a promotional vehicle. I found the ideal collaborators for this in Benjamin, Joshua and Roseanna.”

Songwriter Scheuer added, “in September 2020, I went for a walk in London, thinking about all the closed theatres. The phrase ‘all that's left is an empty stage’ was going round in my head. I spied a public piano, sat down, and wrote the song 'Empty Stage'.

“The song has now blossomed into a joyful collaboration of song, dance, costume, film-making and recording technology. It’s a pleasure and honour to work with Carlos Acosta and Birmingham Royal Ballet; with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, their conductor Paul Murphy and orchestral arranger Paul Davies; with pianist Matt Rollings; with my co-producer of the song Robin Baynton; and with Joshua Ben-Tovim and Roseanna Anderson. They all bring the song to life in a way I could only have dreamed.”

Empty Stage can be viewed on YouTube.