Ceremony of Innocence - Royal Opera House

Royal Ballet

Creative Team

Kim Brandstrup

Leo Warner (59)

Costume Design
Kandis Cook

Lighting Design
Jordan C. Tuiniman

Senior Animator
Nicol Scott (59)

About this Project

Following on from its premier at the Aldeburgh Festival, Ceremony of Innocence has returned to the Royal Opera House as part of a triple bill of contemporary ballet.

Working with regular collaborator Kim Bransdstrup, Leo Warner designed this danced celebration of Benjamin Britten’s Centenary year, set to his Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, featuring some of the finest dancers from the Royal Ballet, including Bennet Gartside and Claire Calvert.

With the use of projection, the stage of the ROH was transformed into a bare brickwork interior that replicated the original venue for which the piece was made - The Snape Maltings Concert Hall (where Britten himself was Music Director for many years).

Working together with animator Nicol Scott, Leo designed a seafront environment which augmented rather than replaced the brickwork walls. The space thereby became a seafront which gently ages, decays and crumbles before the audiences. Occasionally the wall dissolves entirely to reveal the sea beyond, created not with film of real water, but using nodal points and lines, as mathematical yet fluid as dancers themselves.

Shadows also play a big part – mixing real with projected. During one sequence in particular it is impossible to tell whether the figures in the darkness are solid or ephemeral, appearing and disappearing, before being wiped away altogether by the headlights of an (imaginary) car driving past.

Selected Reviews

'Leo Warner’s video designs of the sea are extraordinary.'

The Evening Standard

'As they dance together, her face remains averted from him, lovingly focused on the child still and never seeing the man; a tragedy of time passing that’s powerfully replicated in the relentless, rolling waves and long shadows cast by Leo Warner’s clever projected designs.'

The Guardian

'The design for Ceremony of Innocence is by regular Brandstrup collaborator Leo Warner: a sketch that crumbles with time into cross-hatched waves.'

Culture Whisper

Brandstrup’s subtleties in disclosing emotion are admirably displayed in his study of childhood perceptions, adult expectations, emotional dependency. It is superbly, atmospherically designed – the sea haunts it – by Leo Warner, and grandly done by a cast led by Edward Watson.


 'Decorous, sonorous, richly elegiac.'

The Telegraph



'Kim Brandstrup’s new Ceremony of Innocence is the highlight of the Aldeburgh Festival’s danced celebration of composer Benjamin Britten. Set to theVariations on a Theme by Frank Bridge, it echoes the ambiguities of Britten’s operas in fresh, musical dance, with strong video design by Leo Warner.
Leo Warner’s video images light up Snape Maltings Concert Hall, a brick box with limited room for scenery. The old industrial brickwork glows gorgeously, shadowed with stylised scenery and shadowy dancers. Sambé and Watson mirror each other’s movements, one on a dark half of the stage, the other in light, with a wavering white line marking the distance. Sambé could be Watson’s past; Mara Galeazzi flits between them in fluid, delicate dances.'

The Independent

'Taking his cue from the light and shadows in Britten's music, Brandstrup's narrative is an impressionistic shuffle of past and present. The older Britten (Edward Watson) feels himself caught in the toils of his physical and artistic mortality, looking on with envy at the spontaneous facility and verve of his former self (the very young and gifted Marcelino Sambé). Branstrup conjures a wonderfully elegiac fragility of tone here, reflected in Leo Warner's light projections, which cast a vestigial half-remembered landscape over the dark red brick of the Snape stage.'

The Guardian