Private Project

The Ballet of the Nations

  • Roseanna Anderson
  • Josh Ben-Tovim
  • Gwenfair Hawkins
  • Kim Heron
  • Billy Zane
    Key Cast
  • Sonya Cullingford
    Key Cast
  • Peter Clements
    Key Cast
    "Ballet master death"
  • Jack Tarling
    Executive Producer
  • Grace Brockington
    Executive Producer
  • Robert Bentall
  • Duncan Wood
  • Jack Offord
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Dance, Allegory, Arthouse
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Single channel 4k with 5.1
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Roseanna Anderson, Josh Ben-Tovim

Roseanna Anderson and Josh Ben-Tovim are the Co-directors of Bristol-based company, Impermanence. The company creates and presents critically acclaimed work, with dance at it's centre, in different media and settings, including theatre, film, cabaret and site-specific projects.

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Director Statement

This is the first film Roseanna Anderson and Joshua Ben-Tovim have made. It was inspired by the pacifist satire, The Ballet of the Nations, written by Vernon Lee in 1915 and illustrated by Maxwell Armfield as a response to the outbreak of war. Impermanence’s film incorporates original dialogue inspired by Lee’s text, among intricate and stylised dance pieces, with production design by Pam Tait, an original soundtrack by composer Robert Bentall, cinematography by Jack Offord and historical research and concept development with Dr. Grace Brockington.

The film begins with Satan and Ballet Master Death discussing how to reintroduce chaos into a complacent society. Satan instructs Ballet Master Death to assemble an orchestra of human passions (Fear, Panic, Suspicion, Hatred, Heroism, Murder etc.) to provide the music for a corps de ballet of Nations to perform the dance macabre of war.

What follows is an often-humorous assembly of the orchestra, filmed in the atmospheric cavernous tunnels beneath Bristol Temple Meads. Following this assembly, we see the core Nations perform their dance, joined by a larger cohort of Nations for the final act, Revenge. The film is interspersed with danced sections performed by a Chorus, much like a classical Greek tragedy.

The original publication was rooted in a culture of experimental performance that developed in Britain during the war, against the grain of mainstream theatre and often in sympathy with the wartime peace movement. Impermanence’s production reanimates that world of movement, sound and design, using the evidence of archives, art works, footage, photographs and illustrated books to develop a richly-textured evocation of the wartime artistic response.