Invitation to the Ballet: Ninette de Valois and the story of The Royal Ballet will document the ballet company, from its foundation by de Valois in the 1920s through to the present day. Hemisphere won the project to design the exhibition and marketing materials without a pitch, on the basis of its previous work for The Lowry.
The exhibition will occupy 500m2, or about eight galleries, in The Lowry. Hemisphere is working with the Royal Opera House exhibition curator Cristina Franchi to create a chronological journey through the history of The Royal Ballet. The show will feature more than 50 costumes as well as set designs from ballets including The Sleeping Beauty, The Rite of Spring, Coppélia and Checkmate.
It will also feature a recreation of ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn’s dressing room. The first half of the exhibition contains more physical artefacts than the second half. ’It is particularly challenging that a lot of the artefacts from the early days of The Royal Ballet are really important, but there are far fewer important items from contemporary times, so we are having to rely on audio-visual material instead,’ says Hemisphere senior designer Steven Wainwright.
The Royal Ballet has commissioned a film that will be divided into chunks and shown on ’fairly discreet monitors’, while ’large-scale’ projections will show backstage interviews with dancers, says Wainwright. Invitation to the Ballet runs from 23 October to 6 March 2011 at The Lowry, with sections of it being displayed at the Royal Opera House from April and in three Ipswich venues from June 2011.