Balletomane or first-timer, Shakespeare swot or literature loather — Northern Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a quirky ballet that is sure to delight.
A dreamy balletic interpretation of Shakespeare’s fairy-filled romantic comedy enchanted audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre last night. Northern Ballet has sprinkled a unique blend of fairy dust over A Midsummer Night’s Dream, creating an inventive production that combines dance, the spoken word, melodious music and stylish design.
Artistic Director David Nixon’s witty adaptation swaps Athenians in classical Greece for a touring ballet company in post-war Britain. Opting for the 1940s means the costumes are inspired by Dior’s New Look: the ladies wear chic separates, make the most of nipped-in waists and don wide-brimmed hats. It also means that the power struggles within the narrative are easy to incorporate as, during the surge in popularity that ballet experienced in the UK in the 1940s, there was a prominent hierarchy to be found within companies.
We are introduced to the members of the fictional dance troupe as their daily ballet class ends.
Dancer Sean Bates chats to Georgina Butler about ballet training, life in a dance company and performing in Northern Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Sean Bates joined Northern Ballet in 2012 as a fresh-faced graduate of the Royal Ballet School. Currently a member of the corps de ballet but already being given the opportunity to take on bigger roles, Sean grew up in Giffard Park, Milton Keynes.
As a youngster, Sean attended dance lessons at The Gaynor Cameron School of Dance in Milton Keynes. He later trained at both the Royal Ballet School (White Lodge) and the Royal Ballet Upper School.
While training, Sean won the Royal Academy of Dance’s Phyllis Bedells Bursary award in 2008. This bursary is a tribute to English ballerina and teacher Phyllis Bedells and was created in 1979 to help develop young talent. A maximum bursary of £1,000 is awarded to dancers under 17 years of age who have passed the RAD Intermediate and Advanced 1 examinations (Advanced 1 with distinction) but have not yet entered for the Advanced 2 exam. Sean went on to win the Royal Academy of Dance’s prestigious Genée International Ballet Competition in 2010.
He has just turned 22 and will return to his home town this month with David Nixon’s witty interpretation of Shakespeare’s fairy-filled romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Northern Ballet dancer Sean Bates (Photo by Simon Lawson)