Thanks to my rather conservative instincts - if I become aware of a particular artistic director or choreographer, and then begin to appreciate their distinctive style, I don't like it if they move to new projects - I approached the introduction of Scottish Ballet's new artistic director with caution. Having appreciated Ashley Page's reign, which rescued the company from my memories of some rather twee work in the 1980s, I was concerned that a new director might decide to consolidate rather than expand the repertoire.
Usually I wait a few months before having an opinion about anything new. I am diving in today because I am quite excited about at least one of the future productions mentioned by Hampson in today's press conference.
So, for once, here's me acting liek a reporter... Scottish Ballet have got an exclusive license to performa Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling. Based on the classical ballet La Sylphide. Since it is set in Glasgow - and Bourne made a work up here last year, under the auspices of The Theatre Royal - it seems only fair that Scottish Ballet get to be the first company, apart from Bourne's own, to have a shot at presenting it.
It also fits well into SB's identity - it is influenced by classical ballet, but gets into all sorts of sexy, psychedelic antics. At their best, SB have given "contemporary ballet" a presence and meaning, stripping away those secondary characteristics - the tutus, the romantic stories - while using the technique and discipline. Page's choreography often had a sardonic edge to the elegance: Highland Fling suggests that Hampson is respecting that path.
Hampson himself came across as aware of the company's dual role, both as ambassadors of Scottish dance to the world, and encouraging dance in Scotland. His project towards a version of Hansel and Gretel is going to collaborate with schools, colleges, Louise Welsh and the Forestry Commission - no lack of ambition there - and he promises that a wave of new choreographers will be coming soon to make new work but...
That's five o'clock. Time to post