Matty Ball - 'FILMING WITH IMPERFECT POINTES IN MANCHESTER'
Image: Clara Molden for The Daily Telegraph
British dancer Matthew Ball is a principal of The Royal Ballet company London. He began training in his hometown of Liverpool before moving to London aged 11, after 8 years he graduated and joined The Royal Ballet in 2013, rising through the ranks he became a principal in 2018.
Matthew has danced lead roles in Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Manon and Mayerling amongst many others.Whilst also creating roles in the work of Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon, Crystal Pite, Hofesh Schechter, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Liam Scarlett and Cathy Marston. He has collaborated as a model and dancer with photographers Matthew Brookes, Nick Knight and Rick Guest. Dance film projects include working with 'Pennefather productions' alongside Natalia Osipova and Francesca Hayward, Tybalt in 'Romeo and Juliet Beyond Words' by the BalletBoyz and an expanding portfolio of personal film projects
FINDING NEW WAYS TO EXPRESS OUR CREATIVITY
With the recent pandemic, myself and Mayara have been able to pursue some of our interests outside of dance. It has been an incredible opportunity to hone skills which have now also begun to inform my own career at The Royal Ballet. Over the past 3-4 years I have been involved in several dance film projects. Dance naturally lends itself to film but unfortunately it is the feeling of much of the dance community that it is not well represented by commercials or films - which often play into the hands of tired old stereotypes of Ballerinas or any old model in a tutu and Pointe shoes. For those of us who have dedicated much of our childhoods and professional lives to an art form that we love, this can be a bit of an insult.
We were keen to engage with our audience during the pandemic, so Mayara and I set out to make a few short dance films. In one film, we demonstrated some of the plyometric (agility) training we were keeping up with in the park. Another was a recording of the iconic 'Balcony Pas de Deux' from Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet and finally I created and choreographed a short film of Mayara which explored spirituality in this time of isolation. It seemed to me we were living in an unprecedented moment in history, It felt right for us to be creating and documenting it in our own way, not least since the streets of central London became our film set, almost entirely deserted; it was eerie and majestic. These experiences have led me to want to pursue a potential post-dance career in film and choreography. Who knows what the future will hold, hopefully there is still plenty of time before I have to seriously think about making that transition.
Filming with Imperfect Pointes in Manchester
At first, I was apprehensive to work with professionals within the film and advertising industry and go behind the lens. However, my fears were quickly quelled when we began to meet and formulate ideas for the film.
Chris Townsend from What Media and I immediately agreed on the look, feel and some of the key components of the film and then we set to work preparing things on our own end for shoot day. I felt like Chris valued my position as an experienced dancer and was willing to take my lead on all things ballet related, whilst ensuring that the whole production was conducted professionally.
On set at Mayfield Depot Manchester, Chris and the team had a great knowledge and understanding of film making and soon picked up the ballet terminology, asking if we could, "take it from the chainés one more time.” Once at the location, I could see Helen's vision quickly come to life in the evocative and enormous warehouse. I felt the stage was set for Mayara to fill the space with her sublime dancing.
It didn't take a great deal on my part to get great results from Mayara and so we were able to focus on coordinating some interesting camera movements, lighting effects and location changes with her dancing. The film had to have a strong sustainable dancewear message with the feeling of moving forward, making change and hope that would carry us through. It was really fun to explore some moody and atmospheric shots with the team as well as progressing to some of Mayara's show stopping fouettés.
‘’It was really fun to explore some moody and atmospheric shots with the team as well as progressing to some of Mayara's show stopping fouettés’’.
On the Imperfect Pointes brand film shoot we were able to get a huge amount done in a short space of time and there was never a moment where we weren't able to also enjoy ourselves and have fun. Although we were lucky enough to have natural light pouring in through some windows the space was just above freezing and so at some points I was acting as Mayara's coat hanger and keeping her warm, and at others we were discussing the feeling to convey in a glance, or the subtle gesture of an arm. For me, this is what filmmaking is all about; pooling together a group of peoples’ unique talents , getting all hands on deck and producing as a collective a piece that we are all proud of.I am always so proud to watch Mayara's path in life, as she rises to every opportunity and challenge! I believe her work with Imperfect Pointes will be an exciting chapter in an illustrious career, and I look forward to watching her and this fantastic brand grow together in the face of the enormous challenge of climate change. Perhaps we can't change the world single handedly, but by bringing this message to the forefront across all aspects of society and offering new alternatives, we can hope to make a real difference.
Shop the leotards worn by Mayara Magri. Made using ECONYL® yarn, from regenerated nylon waste such as fishing nets and landfill.