a new ballet for Belfast
3rd - 5th August 2023. The MAC, Belfast.
White Doves is a love letter to peace in Northern Ireland. Dance offers the opportunity for expression beyond what words can achieve.
The first of its kind, White Doves is the first ballet created on Belfast for a Belfast audience. In development since 2020, the work is by local creatives with new choreography by Six Dance Collective founder Ruaidhrí Maguire set to a new score by composer Amelia Clarkson.
Fresh and alight with hope, the ballet gazes back on history to look forwards to the future. The work tells the story of the formation of The Peace People in 1976, woven together by two Doves of peace, danced by two international professional ballet dancers.
Danced by the new generation
The work bridges an important gap for aspiring dancers across the province. As Northern Ireland’s first newly choreographed ballet, the Junior Company of local dancers will have the opportunity to dance alongside international soloists and professional musicians.
The Peace People
The creative team gratefully acknowledge the support of The Peace People and create this work with the blessing of Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire.
Choreographer: Ruaidhrí Maguire
Composer: Amelia Clarkson
Producer: Fleur Mellor
Conductor: Jonathan Mann
Rehearsal Directors: Jacob Allison and Anna Carapellotti
Video Designer: Conan McIvor
Stage Manager: Sophie Thomson
Created in collaboration with High Points Youth Ballet.
The Belfast Community
The cast brings together international and local talent. The work's title Doves are performed by international professionals Danila Marzilli and Leigh Alderson. The roles of the Belfast community, including key figures Mairead, Betty and Ciaran, are performed by aspiring dancers from eight counties across the island.
The 2021 research and development period was funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Music creation is supported by PRS Foundation Women Make Music, the Vaughan Williams Foundation and the Hinrichsen Foundation.
How it started
Research for White Doves began in the midst of Spring 2020, during the first lockdown period of the pandemic. Having both left home to train and work in the UK and abroad, both Ruaidhri and Amelia were keen to create a new work which dedicated to Northern Ireland. They have been creating collaborative works since 2018. White Doves is their second narrative ballet.
Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ruaidhri choreographed a central pas de deux (duet) with two professional dancers in Spring 2021. This duet would go on to form the central material for the work's title Doves.
Images: Danila Marzilli and Daniel Morrison
Choreography created with young dancers
During Professional Ballet Lab 2021 (Theatre at the Mill) and 2022 (Holywood), Ruaidhri workshopped sections of choreography with groups of dancers from age 12+. These dancers worked on sections for solos and ensemble scenes, all of which have been developed for the final material.
Images: Professional Ballet Lab 2021 participants working on the a character solo and crowd scene with choreographer Ruaidhri
The starting place for the music was during the development of material for the original doves duet from 2021. Supported by PRS Foundation Women Make Music and the Vaughan Williams Foundation Amelia is now completing the final score for the 2-act work.
In March 2023, Amelia and conductor Jonathan Mann workshopped the score with the ensemble of musicians. This workshop was supported by the Hinrichsen Foundation. Read more here.
Image: Amelia in rehearsal with conductor Jonathan Mann and musicians.
The cast of 28 dancers rehearsed intensively for just under 3 weeks at High Points Youth Ballet's studios in central Belfast to create the new production.
Images: Danila Marzilli and Leigh Alderson and the Junior Company. Credit: Amelia Clarkson.
White Doves premiered on 3 August 2023 at the MAC Belfast.
Images by Gareth Heron and Norm Keitly.