English National Ballet, one of the major British ballet companies, went through a major rebrand exercise this week, with a new logo, striking visuals and a collaboration with designer Vivienne Westwood. See Design Week for more.
It's quite exciting. I am not super taken by the visuals and some of the ideas behind them. For example the thought of partnering up with designers in other fields is not that original. Diaghilev did it after all. But I guess it's good for them to really run with it. The images are beautiful but sadly they don't say 'ballet' to me, they look like a normal fashion shoot, and I wonder what message they will convey to people who go to the Nutcracker or Swan Lake only once in a while - surely a core audience for this touring company.
Of course it's great to challenge them and show that ballet's unique selling point is not pointe shoes, tutus and fairytales, but athleticism, grace and emotions.
Their copy conveys that strongly to me: 'looks like a doll, dances like a demon' goes one version. And I love their new brand statement - it's got oomph and guts and I look forward to where this new drive will take the company:
'We danced before language and this is our promise. Through our art we will tell your story. We will dance the times you fell in love. We will dance your dreams and your fears. We will dance your death. Our suspended moments, grand glories, kaleidoscopic whirlings, rats, swans, firebirds, heroes, heroines and tracing of psyche are your mirror. We are not dolls. We are artists, young and hungry. At war with gravity to capture poetry from air. We do not exist to embalm traditions. We exist to cherish them and then create more. We leap and grasp for the new. We are for everyone. Watch ballet and you are not rich or poor. Cultured or barbarian. Brain or brawn. You are human. Full of lust and adventure. We are yours and we are you.'