Dancer James Leece plays the title role in the stage show version of classic Christmas cartoon The Snowman.
Between performances and festive family fun, he found time for a chat about choreography, costumes and childhood nostalgia with Georgina Butler.
James Leece was born in Aberdeen and trained at The Royal Ballet School and London Studio Centre. He began his professional performing career dancing for Matthew Bourne’s company in the early days when it was called Adventures in Motion Pictures and continued when it became Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. James has performed roles in Bourne’s Swan Lake, Nutcracker!, Highland Fling, Edward Scissorhands and The Car Man. Further theatre credits include being Robbie and first cover Johnny in the West End production of Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych Theatre, and starring as the leading man, Don Lockwood, in the 2013/2014 UK tour of Singin’ In The Rain.
Currently, James is one of two performers alternating the title role in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of The Snowman at The Peacock Theatre, London dance house Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue. This enchanting show is based on the 1982 animated film, which was inspired by Raymond Briggs’ 1978 children’s book. The narrative sees a young boy and his snowman share a magical night of friendship, fun and flying.
Directed by Bill Alexander, the stage show tells the story entirely through music and dance. It features a musical score and lyrics by the film’s composer Howard Blake – including the classic theme song Walking in the Air – and choreography by Robert North.
The Snowman is now an annual seasonal staple in the capital. The five-week Christmas 2017 run marks the production’s 20th year at The Peacock Theatre, making it the longest-running Christmas show in English theatre history. In November 2017 the cast toured the show to Manchester and Glasgow. The tour will resume throughout January 2018, with performances in Southampton, Milton Keynes and Brighton.
Without a doubt, The Snowman has become a much-loved festive tradition for audiences and cast members alike. Indeed, James is presently donning the fluffy white Snowman suit for his sixth year in the title role. A father to two young children, and an experienced performer, he is full of admiration for this timeless show…
English National Ballet’s artistic director and lead principal dancer Tamara Rojo talks to Georgina Butler about why the company’s new double bill has the potential to change your life…
Tamara Rojo is in no doubt that we need the arts in our lives – that is why she has devoted herself to the business of ballet dancing.
The Spanish ballerina danced with Scottish Ballet and English National Ballet early in her career, before moving to The Royal Ballet for twelve glittering years. Dedicated, ambitious and articulate, Tamara dreamt of not only dancing with a world-class company but also running one. This dream came true when she was appointed in the dual role of artistic director and lead principal dancer of English National Ballet in 2012. Upon starting the top management job, she initiated a rebranding process to sharpen the company’s identity as a distinctive troupe of incredibly versatile ballet dancers with something to say.
Five years later and the touring company, which endeavours to bring ballet of the highest quality to the widest possible audience, has found lots to say under Tamara’s leadership. It has developed collaborative relationships with exciting choreographers; confidently crossed into the realms of contemporary dance; staged new versions of old classics and made history as the first ever ballet company to perform on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
English National Ballet returns to Milton Keynes Theatre with a brand new double bill from Tuesday – and Tamara will perform a lead principal role. Unsurprisingly, keeping on top of her duties as artistic director and the demands made on her as a dancer keep Tamara extremely busy.
Happily, she still managed to find time for a chat…
English National Ballet First Artist Barry Drummond finds a few minutes between classes, performances and rehearsals to fill Georgina Butler in with his thoughts on dancing in Nutcracker and enjoying the magic of Christmas…
English National Ballet opens its acclaimed Nutcracker at Milton Keynes Theatre this evening.
The festive family favourite boasts a sparkling seasonal story, captivating characters and delightful dancing. This ballet’s enduring popularity has seen the Company present a Nutcracker production every year since 1950, its founding year. Last Christmas, over 73,000 people made watching a performance of English National Ballet’s Nutcracker at the London Coliseum part of their holiday celebrations.
This year’s tour (beginning in Milton Keynes and then visiting Liverpool before a return to the Coliseum) continues the annual Nutcracker tradition while bringing choreographer Wayne Eagling’s version to audiences outside the capital.
First Artist Barry Drummond is already embracing the Yuletide season thanks to Nutcracker. As well as looking forward to being part of audience members’ Christmas celebrations, he is eager to make the most of his own festivities when the big day finally arrives!
“Nutcracker is a one-way ticket to festive cheer!”
[English National Ballet’s Barry Drummond performing as Older Freddie in Nutcracker. Photography by Ash.]
Ballet teacher and former professional ballet dancer Lorna Scott is an in-demand dance teacher, a mentor to fellow educators, a higher education student and a busy mum of two.
Amazingly, she found time to discuss performing, teaching, the benefits of dancing and her thoughts on dance education with Georgina Butler…
Lorna Scott is a former soloist with Scottish Ballet. She joined the Company on an apprentice contract after training at The Dance School of Scotland and graduating from The Royal Ballet Upper School. A year later, she was awarded a full-time contract and began working her way up through the ranks. During the 13 years Lorna spent at Scottish Ballet, she was privileged to work with countless brilliant choreographers including Hans van Manen, Ashley Page, Mark Baldwin, Robert North, Richard Alston, Tim Rushton and Stephen Petronio.
After retiring from her career as a professional ballet dancer, Lorna retrained with the Royal Academy of Dance, achieving the Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma (PDTD) with Distinction. Lorna’s first position after gaining the PDTD was working as ballet teacher and junior conservatoire coordinator at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. This role combined coaching senior vocational students (aged 16 – 18) on the Dance Course throughout the day and teaching junior associates (aged 5 – 16) in the evenings.
Now a self-employed ballet teacher working in Aberdeen, Lorna is relishing being able to inspire young dancers through her teaching. Moreover, having trained as a Royal Academy of Dance Continuing Professional Development tutor in 2015, she is looking forward to having many opportunities to support fellow dance teachers in their efforts to spread the joys of dancing far and wide. Still keen to further her own expertise, Lorna is also currently studying for a degree in Dance Education with the Royal Academy of Dance.
Dancer, dance teacher and artist Olivia Holland fills Georgina Butler in on how relocating to New Zealand has helped her to rediscover her passion for dance…
A graduate of the Royal Ballet School White Lodge and Elmhurst School for Dance, Olivia Holland’s professional dancing career has included contracts with Royal Ballet of Flanders (November 2011 – June 2012) and Northern Ballet (July 2012 – July 2015).
Ever since she started touring with Birmingham Royal Ballet while she was a student at Elmhurst, Olivia has been painting pictures inspired by her life as a dancer. These exquisite artworks are influenced by the performers she has worked with, the ballets she has danced in and the countries and theatres she has visited. A keen photographer, she has also recorded her experiences backstage in captivating snapshots.
Since Olivia last graced this site for an interview in June 2014, her entrepreneurial spirit and sense of adventure has taken her to the island nation of New Zealand, also known as the ‘Paradise of the Pacific’. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, motivated to continue painting and newly devoted to the art of teaching, Olivia is falling in love with dancing – and the life it has given her – all over again.
[© Olivia Holland]