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Business to Arts & Justin Bickle host second 30th Anniversary Event at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

John McGrane, Justin Bickle, Tamara Rojo, Andrew Hetherington, Stephen Faloon, Michael Seaver, Helen Carroll at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre Picture Conor McCabe Photography

John McGrane, Justin Bickle, Tamara Rojo, Andrew Hetherington, Stephen Faloon, Michael Seaver, Helen Carroll at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre Picture Conor McCabe Photography

On May 4th, Business to Arts and Justin Bickle, Chief Executive of Glenveagh Properties and Chairman of English National Ballet hosted the second event in our 30th Anniversary series at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Ahead of English National Ballet’s stunning performance of Akram Khan’s Giselle in association with the Dublin Dance Festival, Business to Arts’ corporate members attended a private pre-show panel discussion. The panel moderated by Michael Seaver, Arts Critic, Irish Times included Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director, English National Ballet (ENB), Stephen Faloon, General Manager, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, John McGrane, Director General, British Irish Chamber of Commerce and Justin Bickle, Chair of ENB and host of the event

To start proceedings, Benjamin Perchat, Artistic Director, Dublin Dance Festival outlined some of the highlights of this year’s festival. This followed with a brief overview of dance traditions in Ireland, recognising one of the most influential figures in the history of ballet, Wicklow born Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet. The career of Tamara Rojo, from her training in Madrid to Scottish National Ballet to the Royal Ballet and now Artistic Director of ENB offered our audience insight into the life and motivations of one the most celebrated dancers of our time. Tamara discussed the challenges of bringing an international ballet company on tour, considering the impact Brexit may have on ENB’s future touring productions and how important it is that her productions reflect and respond to present time and society. Stephen Faloon having sought to bring English National Ballet to Dublin in the early 2010’s spoke about the process of bringing a production to Dublin noting the importance of educating audiences on contemporary ballet verses the ever-popular classical repertoire. In relation to the motivations for companies to support dance as an art form Tamara noted:

“Dance is a growing art form. It is an art form that attracts a lot of young people. So it is an art form that should interest the business community because it can reach people that otherwise you may not”  

Stephen Faloon, Justin Bickle, Michael Seaver, Tamara Rojo & John McGrane at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre Picture Conor McCabe Photography

Stephen Faloon, Justin Bickle, Michael Seaver, Tamara Rojo & John McGrane at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre Picture Conor McCabe Photography

Justin Bickle discussed his unexpected introduction to ballet almost 10 years ago, recognising the athleticism and commitment of the dancers. His passion and belief in English National Ballet has enabled and supported the artistic and executive team in the realisation of the London City Island project, a partnership with Ballymore, which is now home to ENB’s new studios. Justin Bickle outlined what business people can bring to an arts organisation in addition to financial resources:

“What you can contribute by common sense or asking the awkward or obvious question in the room, that’s valuable to arts organisations. Having a different perspective and a different background” Justin Bickle on his role as Chairman of English National Ballet.

John McGrane discussed the opportunities of Brexit for Ireland, promoting the cultural offering of Ireland as an important factor that potential incoming workers consider when selecting a new home. A key takeaway is that Ireland may well be positioned attract more EU funding and co-production investment.

“It’s about pitching the Ireland story internationally. You’ve got a situation, you need a solution. You do not want to walk away from the remaining 50 million consumers and citizens in the EU. Ireland and frankly Dublin are your gateway to the future” John McGrane

The performance of Akram Khan’s Giselle by English National Ballet was a powerful, thought-provoking and magnificent reimaging of a traditional classic. We hope that Irish audiences who may not have previously witnessed contemporary ballet are now encouraged to see new work by both domestic and international world-class talent.

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