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The Burberry Foundation first launched Burberry Inspire in 2018 in Yorkshire, aiming to give young people a deep and varied experience of arts and culture whilst studying the impact of this on their development. During the first year of the program, more than 4,000 young people benefitted from their experience of the creative arts, ranging from dance and theatre to filmmaking and sculpture with four Yorkshire arts organizations: Northern Ballet; The Hepworth Wakefield; Leeds Playhouse; and Leeds Young Film.
Early in 2020, the Burberry Foundation expanded the program internationally for the first time, launching in New York City with American Ballet Theatre, Reel Works and Studio in a School NYC. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations from the Yorkshire and New York programs came together to find new ways to inspire and support students in the midst of the pandemic virtually, with support from the Creative Arts Team (CAT) at CUNY and The Ideas Foundation.
In 2020, American Ballet Theatre partnered with Northern Ballet to create four new dance films, featuring professional dancers performing choreography by students from New York City and West Yorkshire, England.
Filmed on location, including recognizable landmarks such as The Hepworth Wakefield, Salts Mill and Times Square, the final films were overseen by Northern Ballet’s Artistic Director of Digital and Choreographer in Residence Kenneth Tindall. Performed by professional dancers from Northern Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, students from Castleford, England and Queens, New York inspired the choreography for the films in a first for both ballet companies.
The films marked the first collaboration between Northern Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, working together virtually to bring the students’ ideas to life.