David Bintley, Birmingham Royal Ballet's Artistic Director, has been left niggled by the International Olympic Committee. Fionnuala Bourke reports.
HE’S the director of one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world and choreographed a host of exhilarating ballets which have won acclaim across the globe.
Yet Birmingham Royal Ballet Artistic Director David Bintley has told how his latest work was given the cold shoulder by the International Olympic Committee – and treated like gift shop tat.
Inspired by the London 2012 Games and Cultural Olympiad, Mr Bintley’s new creation focused on parallels between the strength and agility of sportsmen and women and dancers.
It was originally named after the Olympic Games proud motto: Faster Higher Stronger.
But as soon as the International Olympic Committee, the body with the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement, heard about his plans they ordered him to change the name.
They did, however, award the work, which will be premiered at Birmingham Hippodrome on June 27, one of the 2,700 Inspire marks granted to projects across the country dedicated to using the Games to make “a real and lasting change”.
Mr Bintley said: “Faster is inspired by the Olympic motto, Faster, Higher, Stronger.
“My ballet originally had the full motto as its title, but the IOC said we couldn’t use it. We applied for the Inspire Mark, which they begrudgingly gave us. But they also said that we had to change the title.
“I was pretty peed off quite honestly. It was absurd. The rules surrounding it seem to be quite nonsensical. They are handled with an across the board clumsiness.
“You’re lumped in alongside gift shops and people who want to trade off the movement, who set out to make economic gains from everything they make.
“Yet this is a serious work of art, inspired by the Olympic ideals.
“They are not very subtle about how they handle that. Especially this year when we are talking about the Cultural Olympiad and being part of the whole circus, yet they don’t make it easy.
“We had a bit of a backwards and forwards dialogue. It comes from the top. I think it comes from the top, the IOC themselves, the governing body.”
The ban comes as the London 2012 organisers have been criticised for cheapening the Olympic torch procession through Britain by allowing the likes of Jedward and Voice judge Will.I.Am to carry the flame.
There has also been concern about the level of corporate sponsorship, with executives and staff from some of the major sponsors also given permission to carry the torch, including some shipped in from the USA.
The sale of Olympic torches on internet auction site ebay also whipped up a storm of controversy, forcing Games chiefs to crack down on sellers.
Mr Bintley took over the directorship of Birmingham Royal Ballet 17 years ago from Sir Peter Wright, who had seen the company move from its previous home in Sadlers Wells London.
Sir Peter became known for interpreting classical ballets for the company, including The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia and Swan Lake.
His most successful production is The Nutcracker, which he dedicated to the city of Birmingham, his company’s new home in 1984.
On his arrival at BRB, Mr Bintley, awarded a CBE for services to the arts in 2001, set about building on his success in attracting regular Midland audiences and diversifying the company’s repertoire to include more experimental ballets.