Alice Pennefather – Director / DOP (Dreams of Giverny, The Sun is God, In Her Hands, Esprit du Jardin)
After studying photography at Falmouth College of Art, British film-maker Alice Pennefather spent 6 years travelling and working abroad, focusing on scuba diving and filming underwater. Returning to London in 2011 she rediscovered her love of dance and now works as a freelance photographer and cinematographer. With several years experience photographing for companies such as The Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Garsington Opera, Ballet Cymru, NEBT and ZooNation, she has also developed her skills with moving image above and below the water on several commercials, major BBC and ITV dramas, short films and working on major features such as Tomb Raider, Kingsman, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Mummy (2017), Pan, Paddington 2, Swimming with Men and Hurricane.
Charles Haswell – Producer / Executive Producer (Dreams of Giverny, The Sun is God, In Her Hands, Esprit du Jardin)
Producer Charles Haswell was born and raised in London. After a long and successful career as a company director of The David Lloyd Slazenger
Racquet Club, which later became David Lloyd Leisure, he then spent 10 years as a company director of Gallery One, an art gallery with premises in London and Grayshott, Surrey. Alongside these business successes, Charles satisfied a passion for film and television by co-founding Projector Pictures (formerly Projector Productions) with actors Trevor Eve and Sharon Maughan – for which he was also a company director. Projector Productions has achieved many successful, and a number of BAFTA nominated productions, such as Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998 Channel 4), Cinderella (2000 Channel 4), Twelfth Night, Or What You Will (2003 Channel 4), Kidnap and Ransom (2011/2012 ITV1).
Valentino Zucchetti – Choreographer (Dreams of Giverny, The Sun is God, In Her Hands)
Italian dancer Valentino Zucchetti is a First Soloist of The Royal Ballet. He trained at The Royal Ballet Upper School and on graduation joined Zürich Ballet. He joined the Company in 2010, promoted to First Artist in 2011, Soloist in 2012 and First Soloist in 2014. Zucchetti was born in Calcinate and began training locally aged four. Aged 11 he moved to Milan to study at La Scala Ballet School. Aged 16 he was offered a scholarship to study at The Royal Ballet Upper School and while there won the 2006 Genée International Ballet Competition and the 2007 Solo Seal award. In his final year he created a role in Christopher Hampson’s Three Dialogues for the School’s annual matinee. He subsequently joined Zürich Ballet and moved to Norwegian National Ballet in 2009. His repertory in Zürich and Oslo included Gurn (La Sylphide) and Prince (The Nutcracker). Zucchetti’s repertory with The Royal Ballet includes Colas (La Fille mal gardée), Rhapsody, blue boy (Les Patineurs), Lescaut and Beggar Chief (Manon), Brother Clown (The Winter’s Tale), Gypsy Girl’s Lover (The Two Pigeons), Lensky (Onegin), Espada (Don Quixote), Hilarion (Giselle), Puck (The Dream), Hans-Peter and Prince (The Nutcracker), Mercutio and Lead Mandolin (Romeo and Juliet), Bronze Idol (La Bayadère), Officer (Anastasia), pas de trois (Swan Lake), Bluebird (The Sleeping Beauty), Fool (The Prince of the Pagodas) and roles in ballets including Scènes de ballet, Symphonic Variations, DGV: Danse à grande vitesse and Within the Golden Hour. He has created roles for Carlos Acosta, Kim Brandstrup, David Dawson, Alastair Marriott, Liam Scarlett, Heinz Spoerli and Christopher Wheeldon, among others.
Zucchetti won the School’s Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award in 2005. He choreographed Sonata for Six for the School’s 2013 matinee and regularly creates pieces for The Royal Ballet’s Draft Works. In 2013 he choreographed Orbital Motion for New English Ballet Theatre. His work with Pennefather Films has included choreographing for Sarah Lamb and Annabel Pickering in the short film Dreams of Giverny (2016) which achieved Official Entry into 12 film festivals worldwide, and for Francesca Hayward and Matthew Ball in The Sun is God (2017) which also received significant recognition, screening at the Royal Opera House, London on Remembrance Sunday and featuring as part of the Imperial War Museum Film Festival 2018. It also won The Audience Award at Flatlands Film 2018 and Best Cinematography at Arts Triangle Dance Film Festival 2018 and Best Cinematography and 2nd Place for Choreography for a Lens at Utah Dance Film Festival 2019.
Kristen McNally – Choreographer (Esprit du Jardin)
Born in Liverpool, Kristen trained locally with Elizabeth Hill before joining The Royal Ballet Upper School. She graduated into the Company in 2002 was promoted to Soloist in 2009 and Principal Character Artist in 2017. Her repertory includes Empress Elisabeth (Mayerling), Carabosse (The Sleeping Beauty), Madame (Manon), ‘M’ (Ek’sCarmen), Anna II (Seven Deadly Sins), Tsarina (Anastasia), Lead Harlot, Lady Capulet, Nurse (Romeo and Juliet), Pianist (The Lesson), Cook (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Bertha (Giselle), The Wife (The Concert) and has created roles in Untouchable Hofesh Shechter, Flight Pattern Crystal Pite, The Wind Arthur Pita, Les Enfants Terribles Javier de Frutos. She has choreographed for Balletboyz, Scottish Ballet, Royal Ballet New Works, The Royal Ballet School, Chance to Dance and film work including the John Lewis Tiny Dancer advert and Duet directed by Andrew Margetson.
Sarah Lamb – Principal Dancer (Sarah, Dreams of Giverny)
Sarah Lamb was born in Boston and trained with Madame Tatiana Nicolaevna Legat at the Boston Ballet School. She was awarded a Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton and performed Sleeping Beauty Act III solo at the Kennedy Center in 1998. Coached by Tatiana Nicolaevna, she went on to win three silver medals at the International Ballet Competition in Nagoya, Japan 1999, the NYC IBC in 2000, (where no gold was awarded) and the USA IBC in 2002. She joined Boston Ballet in 1998, promoted to soloist in 2001 and Principal in 2003. Sarah joined the Royal Ballet in 2004 where she performed Odette/Odile in Swan Lake with Viacheslav Samadurov. She has gone on to do all the major roles, Aurora, Giselle, Nikiya, Kitri, Sugarplum Fairy, Juliet, Manon, Olga and Tatiana in Cranko’s Eugene Onegin, Lise in Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardee, as well as Sylvia, Thaïs pas de deux, the lead in Symphonic Variations, Scenes de Ballets and Les Patineurs. In Sir Kenneth McMillan’s oeuvre she has danced the pas de deux in Concerto, Elite Syncopations, Larische in Mayerling, Masha in Winter Dreams and many others. She has been sought out by many choreographers, and has worked with both Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor extensively. McGregor created his first full-length ballet, Raven Girl on Sarah. She also created roles in his ballets Chroma, Limen, Live Fire Exercise, Carbon Life, Tetractyts, as well as Woolf Works where she portrayed Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa opposite Alessandra Ferri.
Several of Sarah’s performance’s with the Royal Ballet have been broadcast live to cinemas worldwide.
The art and culture website Nowness recently created a film starring Sarah in collaboration with Wayne McGregor and film director Malcolm Venville.
In January 2016 she was invited to teach at YoungArts the programme that provided her the opportunity to become a Presidential Scholar. She gave a masterclass along with other accomplished artists in their fields including Sarah Brightman and Anne Reinking.
Francesca Hayward – Principal Dancer (Francesca, The Sun is God)
English dancer Francesca Hayward is a Principal of The Royal Ballet. She trained at The Royal Ballet School and graduated into the Company during the 2010/11 Season, promoted to First Artist in 2013, Soloist in 2014, First Soloist in 2015 and Principal in 2016.
Hayward studied at The Royal Ballet School 2003–11 and while a student won the 2009 Lynn Seymour Award for Expressive Dance, the 2010 Young British Dancer of the Year and both silver medal and the Audience Choice Award at the 2010 Genée International Ballet Competition. After joining The Royal Ballet she represented the Company at the 2012 International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize and won Best Emerging Artist (2014) and Best Female Dancer (2016, 2019) at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards.
Her repertory with the Company includes Juliet, Alice, Manon, Lise (La Fille mal gardée), the female Principal role in Rhapsody, Titania (The Dream), Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara (The Nutcracker), Princess Aurora and Princess Florine (The Sleeping Beauty), Princess Stephanie (Mayerling), Perdita (The Winter’s Tale), Vera (A Month in the Country), Girl (The Invitation), Justine (Frankenstein) and roles in The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, Tarantella, ‘Emeralds’ (Jewels), The Human Seasons, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Giselle, Infra, Ballo della regina, Symphony in C, Asphodel Meadows, Within the Golden Hourand Carbon Life. She created roles in Untouchable, Woolf Works and Multiverse.
Matthew Ball – Principal Dancer (The Sun is God & In Her Hands)
English dancer Matthew Ball is a Principal dancer of The Royal Ballet. He trained at The Royal Ballet School and joined the Company during the 2013/14 Season, promoted to First Artist in 2015, Soloist in 2016, First Soloist in 2017 and Principal dancer in 2018.
Ball was born in Liverpool. He joined The Royal Ballet School aged 11 and graduated through the School. Roles while a student included Fritz (The Nutcracker) with The Royal Ballet. Awards as a student include at the School’s 2011 Lynn Seymour Competition, the 2009 Kenneth MacMillan Senior Choreographic Competition and the Gailene Stock and Gary Norman Award for Excellence.
Ball’s roles with the Company include Romeo, Prince Florimund and Bluebird (The Sleeping Beauty), Prince (The Nutcracker), Albrecht (Giselle), Crown Prince Rudolf (Mayerling), Prince Siegfried (Swan Lake), Solor (La Bayadère, Basilo and Espada (Don Quixote), Lensky (Onegin), Lysander (The Dream), the Young Man (The Two Pigeons), Escamillo (Acosta’s Carmen), Officer (Anastasia), Ted Feltham (The Unknown Soldier) and in Symphonic Dances, Jewels, The Human Seasons, Woolf Works, Afternoon of a Faun, Carbon Life, Scènes de ballet and The Age of Anxiety. His role creations include Albert de Belleroche (Strapless) and in Connectome, Untouchable, Woolf Works, Obsidian Tear and Multiverse. In 2016 he was named Best Emerging Artist at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards.
As well as excelling with the Royal Ballet Company, Matthew recently took on the lead role as ‘The Swan’ in Matthew Bourne’s production of Swan Lake. He also starred in the award winning short dance film ‘The Sun is God’ which has featured in film festivals worldwide to great acclaim.
Natalia Osipova – Principal Dancer (Camille Claudel, In Her Hands)
Russian dancer Natalia Osipova is a Principal of The Royal Ballet. She joined the Company as a Principal in autumn 2013, after appearing as a Guest Artist the previous Season as Odette/Odile (Swan Lake) with Carlos Acosta. Her roles with the Company include Giselle, Kitri (Don Quixote), Sugar Plum Fairy (The Nutcracker), Princess Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty), Lise (La Fille mal gardée), Titania (The Dream), Marguerite (Marguerite and Armand), Juliet, Tatiana (Onegin), Manon, Mary Vetsera (Mayerling), Natalia Petrovna (A Month in the Country), Anastasia and roles in Rhapsody, Serenade, DGV: Danse à grande vitesse and Tchaikovsky Pas de deux. Her role creations include Amélie Gautreau (Christopher Wheeldon’s Strapless) and in Wayne McGregor’s Tetractys and Woolf Works and Alastair Marriott’s Connectome.
Osipova was born in Moscow and began dancing at the age of five. Aged eight she joined the Mikhail Lavrosky Ballet School. From 1995 to 2004 she trained at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography and on graduating entered the corps of the Bolshoi Ballet, where she was promoted to principal in 2010. Her repertory there included Kitri (Don Quixote), Giselle, Nikiya and Gamzatti (La Bayadère), La Sylphide, Esmerelda, Princess Aurora and Swanilda (Coppélia). In 2011 she left the Bolshoi to join the Mikhailovsky Ballet as a principal.
Osipova has appeared as a guest artist with companies around the world. In March 2012 she became a principal of American Ballet Theatre, where she created the title role in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Firebird. Her awards include Golden Masks for her performances in In the Upper Room (2008) and La Sylphide (2009), Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards (Best Female Dancer, 2007, 2010 and 2014) and a Benois de la Danse Award (Best Female Dancer, 2008).
Ashley Dean – Dancer (The Spirit, Esprit du Jardin)
South African dancer Ashley Dean is a First Artist of The Royal Ballet. She trained at English National Ballet School and graduated into The Royal Ballet’s Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme in 2014, entering the Company in 2015 and promoted to First Artist in 2019.
Dean started dancing at the age of five and trained at Cape Junior Ballet Company before joining English National Ballet School in 2011. Awards while a student included bronze medal at the 2011 Genée International Ballet Competition and the Royal Academy of Dance’s Solo Seal Award in 2013. While a student she performed with English National Ballet as Flower (Le Corsaire) and Snowflake (The Nutcracker) and with The Royal Ballet on tour in Manon in Moscow and Romeo and Juliet in Taipei.
Roles since joining The Royal Ballet have included Clara (The Nutcracker), White Cat (The Sleeping Beauty), Young Girl’s Friend (The Two Pigeons), Cygnets (Swan Lake) and in the world premieres of Hofesh Shechter’s Untouchable and Crystal Pite’s Flight Pattern.
Annabel Pickering – Dancer (Sisi Salerou, Dreams of Giverny)
Bel began her vocational training at age 11 with the Royal Ballet School in London. She has performed with the Royal Ballet company many times including a solo role at age 10 playing the little girl in La Sylphide.
At age 12 she had another solo role as a young girl in Swan Lake Act 1 and was a baby swan in the same Production
During her time at the school she also performed each Christmas in the Royal Ballets production of The Nutcracker and won 2 choreographic awards and The James Monohanr medal when she was 13.
At age14 Bel was lucky enough to perform along side Sarah Lamb in Dreams of Giverny.
Due to family relocation, she attended Master Ballet Academy in Arizona from 2016-2019 and during her time there she won 3 YAGP golds at Phoenix, Dallas and Salt Lake City. She has attended the YAGP finals twice where she placed in the top 12 senior women. She played the roles of Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Phoenix Ballets’ Nutcracker.
In 2019 she competed at the prestigious Prix De Lausanne after which she returned to the Royal Ballet Upper School where she will begin her graduate year in September.
Cottia Thorowgood – 1st Assistant Director (Dreams of Giverny, The Sun is God, In Her Hands)
After a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge, Cottia returned to her more immediate passion of storytelling, working in script development for Amber Entertainment, Altered Image and Lookout Point TV. Keen to complement this experience with on-set work, she took on assisting roles in production and casting for several feature films, as well as coordinating short film festival Future Shorts, and working as Company Manager for Secret Cinema. In 2015, Cottia began her filmmaking MA at LFS, where she wrote and directed three shorts and filmed another four. Cottia graduated as a writer-director in 2018, has since directed two shorts and a commercial, and is now working as a script consultant for Wishful Thinking whilst developing her next short.
Mary-Jess – Vocals (Dreams of Giverny, The Sun is God)
Whilst studying Mandarin Chinese in China, Mary-Jess won 民星唱翻天, a singing competition live on Chinese TV with a viewing audience of 70 million people that the UK press called ‘The Chinese X Factor’. Shortly after, she released her début album ‘Shine’ which won both ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Best Newcomer’ from classical-crossover.co.uk.
Mary-Jess has toured with Russell Watson, performed with Sir Tim Rice and Don Black, sang to royalty in Windsor Castle, appeared on numerous national TV programs both in the UK and in China, and was chosen to sing the Downton Abbey theme tune. She even performed at the FA Cup Final in Wembley Stadium singing ‘Abide With Me’ in front of a live audience of 90,000 people and a worldwide television audience of 300 million people.
Besides her own début record, she has featured on nine other albums: ‘Now That’s What I Call Classical’, two Downton Abbey albums, the Rugby World Cup ‘World in Union’ album, both the original album and the special edition of ‘Dare to Dream’ the UK Classical Number 1 album by Rebecca Newman, ‘Flying Happiness’ a Chinese compilation album and she sang Faith Hill’s ‘There You’ll Be’ for the Band of the H. M. Royal Marines’ album ‘Summon the Heroes’ due to her family connections with the forces. This was then included on the album ‘Music for Heroes’.
After singing at The GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, Mary-Jess was invited to Number 10 Downing Street where she was asked to become the next representative of The GREAT Britain Campaign, and so she now represents the UK in 144 countries around the world. She is also a ‘Leading Light’ of the UK–China Alumni Network, an initiative set up by the British Council in China to encourage links between the UK and China.
Mary-Jess is a member of the Royal British Legion Gloucester City Branch, patron of The Door Youth Project which help troubled, disengaged young people and their families, and she is an ambassador for Half the Sky, a charity that help orphaned and abandoned children in China.
Nina Humphreys – Composer (Dreams of Giverny)
Nina Humphreys is an award-winning composer for the screen. Known for lyrical, dark and quirky scores, her eclectic credits range from emotive character-led stories for contemporary and period settings to comedy, sci-fi and thrillers.
Her music can range from large orchestral arrangements to contemporary music/sound design – across a wide range of budgets. Nina has also composed for Dance, Theatre, Radio, Animation and Silent Film, enjoying the collaborative process that comes with every commission. All her scores seek to bring a distinctive mood and flavour, specific to each story.
Michael Price – Composer (Esprit du Jardin)
Michael Price is one of the UK’s most sought after composers. His critically acclaimed debut album on Erased Tapes Records, Entanglement, released in April 2015, was described as ‘gorgeous’ by Rolling Stone, as ‘a neo-classical treat’ by Uncut, and Clash remarked that ‘the emotional clout of this music is quite staggering’. ‘Speke’ is taken from his album Tender Symmetry, which was released in August 2018. This ambitious musical project takes in a series of iconic National Trust locations across England as its inspiration, turning them into unlikely recording spaces.
Léa Jackson – Actress (Jessie Lipscomb, In Her Hands)
Léa Jackson is an actress based in London, England. She has been professionally acting since the age of 19. She has worked with Theatre companies such as the Almeida and National Youth theatre, as well as UK and internationally based productions for television and film. Credits include roles in Jacques Doillon’s Rodin, Grantchester and Call the Midwife.
Allen Christer – Actor (Monet, Dreams of Giverny) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8689016/?ref_=tt_cl_t3
Richard Cunis – Executive Producer (In Her Hands) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm10714717/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr2
Susi Ashcroft – Executive Producer (The Sun is God) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9261824/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr2
Georgie Paget – Producer (In Her Hands) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3644353/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr4
Henry St Clair – Producer (The Sun is God) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9261973/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr5
Louise Cunningham – Hair & Make-up (Dreams of Giverny, The Sun is God, In Her Hands)
After training initially as a hairdresser and later accomplishing a fashion degree Louise went on to work in the wig department within the company of Angels & Bermans, later becoming known as Angels the costumiers. She spent 4 years working here, meeting and working with various clients throughout the TV, theatre and film industry before moving to the Royal Opera House within the wig and make-up department.
Louise spent 14 wonderful years working mainly for the Royal Ballet, and closely with the prima ballerina’s. She left the ROH to run a holiday cottage and glamping company while still fulfilling a freelance career in the wig industry from her studio in Wales.
Julie Dene – Photographer (The Sun is God, In Her Hands, Esprit du Jardin)
With a degree from Kingston University in Graphic Design / Illustration and photography, Julie worked commercially as a product illustrator for clients such as M&S Consumers Association and Sainsburys. Also as a book illustrator for writers such as Rohal Dahl, Enid Blyton, Gyles Brandreth.
She started working as a photographer 12 years ago, and specialises mostly in product photography, portraits and on-set film stills.
Steve Gibbs – Editor (Dreams of Giverny, The Sun is God, In Her Hands, Esprit du Jardin) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1777617/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr6
Rob Hill – 1st AC & Drone Operator (Dreams of Giverny, The Sun is God, In Her Hands, Esprit du Jardin) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8689017/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr10
Jess Gamble – 1st AD (Esprit du Jardin) 2nd AD (The Sun is God, In Her Hands) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9258459/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr7
Sarah Butterfield – Artist (Esprit du Jardin, In Her Hands) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm10641827/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr8http://www.sarahbutterfield.co.uk/about.html
Aephie Huimi Chen – Production Designer (In Her Hands) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6476168/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr7
Sten Vollmuller – Costume Designer(In Her Hands) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm10741493/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr9
Zeta Spyraki – Gaffer (In Her Hands) https://www.imdb.com/name/nm7712136/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr21