Dance fans will be seduced by the world’s greatest lover when Northern Ballet brings its sensual new production, Casanova, to Milton Keynes Theatre.
The much-anticipated Casanova is award-winning choreographer Kenneth Tindall’s first ever full-length ballet. Now hot property as a dancemaker, Tindall was a premier dancer with Northern Ballet for twelve years before he retired from performing in 2015. This means he completely understands the internationally acclaimed company’s ambition to tell stories that audiences can immerse themselves in and connect with.
Giacomo Casanova’s story is so sensational that it is hard to believe it is true. History’s most notorious playboy lived a life full of sexual conquests, scandal and adventure. And he wrote about it all in vivid detail in his memoirs.
Tindall, in collaboration with Casanova’s biographer Ian Kelly, has devised a scenario for his two-act ballet that will unmask the eighteenth-century Italian stallion and expose Casanova’s humanity. Between them, they have condensed twelve volumes of Casanova’s memoirs into 100 minutes of narrative-driven dance theatre.
Far from the heartless lothario we might have imagined, Casanova was a man who loved and lived with passion and verve. He was plagued by depression and wrote about his experiences to cope with the melancholy that invaded his mind. Ultimately, Casanova yearned to be taken seriously as a philosopher but his accounts of the elaborate affairs he became embroiled in ensured his legacy was his reputation as a womaniser.
Fiercely intellectual, Casanova was one of the most eminent thinkers of the Enlightenment era and accomplished great things as a musician, mathematician, scientist and philosopher. As a young man, he aspired to join the priesthood and he did devote himself to being a church cleric for a short while.
It was only when Casanova allowed himself to be consumed by his desires that his life of debauchery began.
The production promises to chart Casanova’s highs and lows, revealing how a trainee priest ends up being imprisoned, exiled and having his name forever immortalised as a derogatory adjective!
Casanova might focus on the exploits of one man but it takes a thirty-strong cast of dancers and a talented group of backstage creatives to bring this decadent production to the stage.
American film and television composer Kerry Muzzey created the original score, which is played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia. Sets and costumes (including 120 dazzling Venetian masquerade masks and an abundance of corsets) are by British designer Christopher Oram, who has recently been announced as part of the design team for Disney’s Frozen musical on Broadway. The 60 powdered wigs that are used in each performance have been individually crafted under the expert guidance of West End wig maker Richard Mawbey.
Tindall’s choreography is known for being experimental and expansive so theatregoers ought to expect a mixture of modern and classical sequences. In addition to creations for Northern Ballet, the Central School of Ballet alumnus has choreographed for John Neumeier’s Bundesjugendballett (Germany’s National Youth Ballet) and English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer competition. Most recently, Tindall was nominated for ‘Best Classical Choreography’ and ‘Emerging Artist’ at the 2015 National Dance Awards for his one-act ballet The Architect, created for Northern Ballet’s 2014 mixed programme. Expectations are understandably high for Casanova.
Of course, Northern Ballet’s dancers themselves are admired for their acting ability just as much as for their dance technique. If any company can pull off a production of this magnitude, with style and substance, Northern Ballet can.
I am anticipating an epic evening of entertainment.
*Promotional photography by Guy Farrow. Production photography by Emma Kauldhar.
Casanova comes to Milton Keynes Theatre from Wednesday 19 to Saturday 22 April 2017.
The production is suitable for theatregoers aged 12+.
A version of this preview features on Total MK.
I also wrote a preview for the Milton Keynes Citizen GO.
Update 21 April 2017: Read my review of Northern Ballet’s Casanova at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.