English National Ballet – the teaser challenge!


Image by Guy Farrow

We are very excited to announce that English National Ballet is staging a brand new production of Le Corsaire, a ballet inspired by Lord Byron’s poem The Corsair (1814) – and want Young Poets Networkers to get involved!

When Lord Byron published The Corsair in February 1814, it sold ten thousand copies on the first day. Readers were caught up in the tale of the brooding Byronic hero – one with “a laughing Devil in his sneer” – who risks his life and his true love for the sake of chivalry. You can read the full text of the poem here.

English National Ballet will become the first UK Company to perform the ballet Le Corsaire, with a newly designed production for the Company featuring sets and costumes by Bob Ringwood (Batman, Alien 3, Star Trek Nemesis). Originally revived by Marius Petipa (1863), Le Corsaire is inspired by Byron’s text drawing on the thrilling, passionate tale, and themes of intrigue and tragedy which follow the spirit of Byron’s poem.

The exotic setting of Lord Byron’s The Corsair (1814) proved to be a perfect starting point. The ballet Le Corsaire has been developed over many years with characters and scenes added to suit the nature of storytelling though movement.

Conrad, the leader of the pirates travels to Turkey and falls in love with a beautiful slave girl, Medora. He rescues her from the cruel Pasha, who has bought her as one of his wives, and they escape back to his island hideaway. Encouraged by Medora, Conrad means to rescue the rest of the slave girls, but his second-in-command Birbanto encourages the other pirates to mutiny. In the struggle, Medora is stolen away by the slave merchant and taken back to the Pasha. Conrad and his men disguise themselves and sneak into the palace, where they manage to rescue Medora and another slave girl, Gulnare. But their ship gets caught in a storm as they try to escape, and there is a tragic ending… in the best ballet tradition! You can read a detailed synopsis here.

The teaser challenge

English National Ballet and Young Poets Network are working together to form a writing challenge inspired by the epic love story of Le Corsaire. The main challenge will be revealed on 25 October, but there is still an opportunity to get involved before then…

English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire ends in a tragic shipwreck – one of the most breath-taking spectacles in ballet, which mirrors the poem’s interest in the seductive danger of the sea.

The teaser challenge is to write phrases and lines of poetry about the sea, water and the tempestuous nature of a storm at sea.

We will collect these to create a mood-board, which will be used as part of Young Poets Network’s celebrations for National Poetry Day 2013, as the theme this year is water.

Think about how the sea will be represented in your work. Will it be tranquil, choppy or raging? Clear, blue, green, jet black, or all of these? For Byron, in The Corsair, the sea is hugely changeable:

“…glad waters…” (1, I)

“…freshness breathing from each silver spring…” (1, VI)

“…the surge…” (1, XVI)

“…the waves’ phosphoric brightness… ” (1, XVII)

“O’er the hushed deep the yellow beam he throws,
Gilds the green wave, that trembles as it glows” (3, I)

“… waves in milder tints unfold
Their long array of sapphire and of gold” (3, I)

“The boats are darting o’er the curly bay,
And sportive Dolphins bend them through the spray” (3, XVIII)

Send in your lines and phrases about the sea – as many as you like – and five lucky poets will receive Young Poets Network notebooks and goodies from English National Ballet. Selected lines will be used to create an inspirational mood-board, to use in Young Poets Network and Poetry Society’s celebrations for National Poetry Day 2013, and English National Ballet will feature selected lines on their website. The second part of the writing challenge will follow next month…

Submitting your work

This challenge is now closed – but you can read the wonderful songs of the sea from all the young poets who entered, which we used to celebrate National Poetry Day 2013.

By submitting to the teaser and the full challenge, you consent for your information to be shared with our partner English National Ballet for all marketing and communications purposes. Your name, poem, photo and other details may also be used by Young Poets Network, the Poetry Society and English National Ballet for promotional purposes (including online, print and broadcast) in perpetuity.

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Published September, 2013

18 thoughts on “English National Ballet – the teaser challenge!

  1. Hi. Just wondering if you are looking for short phrases ONLY or if sea-based poems from which you could extract phrases or lines would be acceptable? x

    1. Hi Jahnavi, the prize for the main challenge means the competition can only be open to UK poets. However, most YPN challenges are open to poets from all over the world, so do keep an eye out! Or sign up to keep updated with our ebulletins.

  2. Have You selected and Emailed the winners of Foyles young poet?
    Can you please tell me a stanza of any winning poet?
    I am dying to hear it!

  3. hi,wondering if the results for those 4 august challenges out yet? If not then when will that be????? Plz try to inform as sooon as possible…..

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