In 2015, The Royal Ballet embarked upon an exciting collaboration with Calken Gallery’s leading figurative artist, Michael James Talbot, to create a stunning collection of bronze sculpture, capturing the spirit and grace of the Principle Dancers of The Royal Ballet, London.
Michael James Talbot worked with Edward Watson, over several months in the rehearsal studios at the Royal Opera House, to create a wonderful portrait of one of the Royal Ballet’s leading Principal Dancers.
Talbot is a perfectionist and his figurative artwork is renowned for its exquisite detail and anatomical precision. This accuracy and attention to detail is an important factor in The Royal Ballet sculpture collection, where each piece is carefully crafted to ensure that each study reflects the poise, and posture of the dancer as precisely as possible. To achieve this, Talbot worked closely with the dancers in their studios, observing, measuring and then sculpting the clay model. During this creation phase the clay sculpture is carefully scrutinised by the expert and experienced eyes of the Royal Ballet directors and Talbot often had to make minute adjustments to ensure the highest degree of integrity in the final study.
Of this initial project, Michael says; “Sculpture is drawn to ballet like a moth to the flame, The Royal Ballet being its brightest flame. To stand in a rehearsal room in the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden is to see the sinew and bones of the Ballet literally and metaphorically.
The dancer, a blank rehearsal room, with a mirrored wall and a piano. This is the white canvas to a painter, the clay and the wire to a sculptor. Here I met Royal Ballet principal Edward Watson for the first time, a dancer at the height of his powers with a truly humbling dedication.
Within a few minutes of exploring possible shapes and movements, I saw Edward’s discipline and delight in the structure, form and balance that are the essential elements in figurative expression. The final image was distilled and is a study in stillness which I have never witnessed in any model, stillness which is not the absence of movement but is a state of grace.
When I came away from our first session I was certain of two things, this was a working environment where there is no compromise and the image I would sculpt would be “in rehearsal” “
To see this initial bronze sculpture of the Royal Ballet by Michael James Talbot, visit Edward Watson page to see images of the finished sculpture.