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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 21:13 GMT 22:13 UK
Scottish Ballet festival return
Scottish Ballet dancers
The shows were a major breakthrough for the company
Scottish Ballet have performed at the Edinburgh International Festival after an absence of nearly two decades.

The classical company had to deal with spiralling debts and mass resignations before reinventing itself as a contemporary dance outfit.

Friday's performance, the first of three shows, was a major breakthrough for Scottish Ballet.

Six years ago, the company was in the grip of a crisis, with no artistic director and mass resignations.

It was also warned by its main funder, the Scottish Arts Council, that it risked losing its funding altogether unless it took a radically new direction.

Dance critic of The Herald, Mary Brennan, said: "Partly it was because they didn't have a different repertoire.

The main thing for us is that it is like a market place for the arts
Ashley Page
Scottish Ballet

"This was partly financial, there was no money around to invest in new work.

"Also, because they had so many rapid switches and changes of direction - both artistic and management - the company was hard-pushed to discover its own identity.

"They were forever, it seemed to me, in transition."

Artistic director Ashley Page, who was appointed two years ago, has encouraged Scottish Ballet to put its best foot forward.

The work by George Balanchine performed in Edinburgh, accompanied by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, is said to be among the most challenging in the contemporary dance calendar.

Brian McMaster
They should be here and it's a great thing they're back
Brian McMaster
Edinburgh International Festival

Mr Page said: "All three of these pieces are challenging in very different ways. The reason it makes such a good programme is that they show the full diversity of Balanchine's output.

"Apollo is very lyrical and neo-classical, Episodes is kind of fiercely inventive and Rubies is Balanchine's response to the Broadway and Hollywood musicals, particularly of the 30s, which he loved."

He added: "The main thing for us is that it is like a market place for the arts. Other directors from all over the world come to see what's on offer.

"The company has been rehearsing here for the last couple of days and I'm proud of them."

Festival director Brian McMaster said the work had persuaded him the company was ready to return to the Edinburgh International Festival.

"It was their dancing of a piece by Balanchine which I just thought was spectacular, really spectacular," he said.

"That goes to the root of a ballet company. If you can dance Balanchine, you can dance anything.

"They should be here and it's a great thing they're back."

Scottish Ballet spins into row
25 Sep 01 |  Scotland
Ballet boss told to leave country
29 Aug 05 |  Scotland

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