Q&A with Sara-Maria Barton, Creative Director, EA Course Director & Assistant Artistic Director, Ballet West  


  • Why did you choose the EICC as the venue for your performance of Swan Lake?

Swan Lake is actually Ballet West’s second show at the EICC. I first enquired back in 2015 for our 2016 production of The Nutcracker, which I was still dancing in. Initially I met with Debbie who showed me around the venue and then introduced me to Nigel and the team that would be involved in helping with our production. 

I was really impressed with the facility and the professionalism of everyone. EICC seemed a good fit for Ballet West so I decided to go ahead. 

Production-wise The Nutcracker went very well so we decided to return this year with Swan Lake. This, in part, was based on the fact that everyone at the EICC was so easy to deal with – they were helpful and obliging no matter what questions or requests were put to them.

  • Can you describe your experience of the EICC both in terms of the facilities and of the team?

The facility is very modern, has a large seating capacity and there is ample dressing and stage space - all of which comes in useful for a show like ours, where there are over 100 students performing at a time and many family and friends coming to watch them. 

Everything is great  - from the box office, bar and foyer, to the seating, stage and technical equipment. Even the cleanliness of the venue is impressive.

The support of the EICC team was really appreciated by the Ballet West Production crew. They were impressed with everything that was put in place ahead of their arrival on site for get-in. Our camera crew and photographers found they had great visibility of the stage and ample space for their equipment within the auditorium. Also, easy access to areas which gave them more interesting angles for film. Everything they had requested was ready for them and they were given great support from the EICC tech crew throughout the day and during performances. 

We have also held two drinks receptions in Platform 5 Café following our performances. The catering staff did a great job and again, were a pleasure to deal with. 

The experience was just easy – anything that we needed was delivered quickly and we never had to worry that it wouldn't be. Peace of mind and knowing you can rely on a team is important to our crew and dancers. Not all venues offer the same level of service or reliability. 

Performing at the EICC is a wonderful and very professional experience for our dancers, some of whom are as young as 8 years old. 

  • Overall, how would you rate the EICC as a venue for live event performances?

Fantastic! It's beautiful, clean and comfortable for both the company and the audience. From an audience point of view, the layout of the Pentland Suite is perfect. The gradually tiered auditorium offers an unrestricted view from any seat. The seating isn't too high or far away, which means you can always see the faces of the dancers. Very important for a live performance.