We are delighted to announce the following appointments to our Board: Mark Baldwin OBE, award-winning choreographer and director, and visual artist; and Brandon Lawrence, a Birmingham Royal Ballet Principal dancer.
Mark joined Elmhurst’s Board days before the first UK lockdown and has continued to support the school during virtual meetings. His career includes a distinguished association with Rambert, one of the world’s leading dance companies, where he first danced with the company in 1979 and again from 1983 – 1993. He established Mark Baldwin Dance Company (1993 – 2001) during which time he created over 40 works for his own company and The Royal Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Scottish Ballet (where he was resident choreographer in 1996), London City Ballet, Cisne Negro Dance Company (Brazil), Modern Dance Company of Argentina, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Staatsoper Berlin, and Rambert.
In 2002, Mark returned to Rambert to take up the post of Director where he remained until 2018. During this time, the company won 15 Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards, two Olivier Awards and five Olivier Award nominations. In 2016, Mark was awarded an OBE for his services to dance, and in 2019 he received the Critics’ Circle De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.
Brandon Lawrence will attend his first Elmhurst Board meeting later this month. Born in Bradford, he trained with Penny Murray and Andie Nydza before attending The Royal Ballet School. He joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2011 and was promoted to Soloist in 2016, First Soloist in 2018 and Principal in 2019.
Brandon continues to dance in a range of classical and contemporary repertoire. He created roles in George Williamson’s Embrace, Ruth Brill’s Arcadia, David Bintley’s The King Dances, Alexander Whitley’s Kin, Juanjo Arqués’s Ignite, Didy Veldman’s Sense of Time, Jessica Lang’s Lyric Pieces and Wink and Jack Lister's A Brief Nostalgia. Brandon received Critics’ Circle National Dance Award nominations for Best Male Classical Performance in 2018 and 2019 and Best Male Dancer in a Classical role in 2019. He was joint winner of the RAD Phyllis Bedells Award in 2008.
Along with current Board members, Mark and Brandon will be fully involved in determining the future strategy, direction and success of the school.
Speaking on his appointment, Mark Baldwin, said: “I am very proud to be on board at Elmhurst Ballet School. I choreographed Eleanor Alberga’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs based on the Roald Dahl story for the Elmhurst graduates in September 2019. They were accompanied by the London Schools’ Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican and it was a fabulous combination and experience.
The Elmhurst dancers were by turns humorous and deeply serious, relaxed but technical, all lovely qualities for a choreographer to work with. The power of inspired young people to express themselves has endless possibilities and I am so excited to be able to help nurture them during this phase of their development.”
Speaking on his appointment, Brandon Lawrence, said: “I am delighted to be appointed to the Board of Elmhurst Ballet School. Over the years I have built a positive relationship with the school which continues to develop its association with Birmingham Royal Ballet. It is exciting to be involved with a new generation of artists and creatives alike who are essentially the future of the arts.”
Dan Howard, Chair of Elmhurst’s Board, commented: “We are thrilled to have Mark and Brandon on board at Elmhurst. Their vast experience will bring dance attributes of accessibility, relevance and thought-provocation to the school. Their knowledge and creative insight will help inspire students to embrace new repertoire and a curriculum that complement’s Elmhurst’s existing strengths in classical ballet.
As Elmhurst emerges from months of virtual learning and it considers the ever-changing landscape of the dance sector and its employability for its students and graduates, it is paramount that we continue to learn from the best to ensure our education and training remains fit for purpose.”
Photography: Nick Gutterage and Drew Tommons