Northern Ballet’s dancers are in fine form this year. Following the success of the world première tour of Casanova, they are currently on the road with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – a new full-length narrative ballet based on John Boyne’s 2006 Holocaust novel.
The Irish writer’s international bestseller tells the heart-wrenching tale of a friendship between two nine-year-old boys living a strange parallel existence during the Second World War. Bruno is a German boy; the son of a Nazi officer promoted to the position of Commandant at a fictionalised Auschwitz concentration camp. Cossetted by his family, Bruno is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country. All he knows is that he has been relocated from his familiar home in Berlin to a lonely house in the middle of nowhere in Poland. Here, there is nothing to do and no one to play with. At least, there isn’t until Bruno befriends Shmuel, a Jewish boy imprisoned at Auschwitz, through the barbed wire fence of the camp. As Bruno and Shmuel’s unlikely friendship flourishes, the full implications of Bruno’s father’s job as Commandant are exposed. Familial discord inevitably ensues before the harrowing conclusion reveals how, through misadventure, Bruno ends up dying with Shmuel in the gas chamber.
Although the premise of Boyne’s story is emotive and engaging, both the book and the subsequent 2008 film by Mark Herman received mixed reviews. This is due to the implausibility that any concentration camp prisoner could ever have engaged in a friendship with an outsider. Furthermore, the reality is that children below working age were typically murdered immediately upon their arrival at Auschwitz. Nonetheless, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is an affecting account of wartime turmoil as seen through a child’s eyes. Significantly, Northern Ballet’s production, devised and choreographed by Artistic Associate Daniel de Andrade, stays true to the book, confidently using dance to capture the drama of forbidden friendship and family conflict.
The art of seduction is all about knowing what is alluring to your intended, appealing to their desires and successfully winning them over. Northern Ballet appreciates that its audiences yearn to be engrossed in narrative works and brings these to the stage through energetic and expressive choreography. With Casanova, the Company has raised the barre (ballet pun intended) to deliver what may well be its most impressive production to date.
Based on a scenario created by Giacomo Casanova’s biographer Ian Kelly and choreographer Kenneth Tindall, the ballet unmasks the legendary lothario to reveal the man behind all those hedonistic sexual conquests. The plot provides a fascinating glimpse into Casanova’s sensational experiences in decadent 18th Century Venice and Paris. Exhilarating episodes blend together in cinematic style to divulge how the women – and men – Casanova encountered encouraged him to experience the pleasures of life through countless sexual adventures.
Choreographer Kenneth Tindall was a premier dancer with Northern Ballet from 2003 until 2015. Artistic Director David Nixon nurtured his transition into dancemaking. Casanova is the first ever full-length ballet Tindall has devised so it is fitting that he has embarked on this major undertaking with Northern Ballet. His vision, combined with the dramatic expertise of the Company’s dancers, means Casanova boasts both stunning physicality and absorbing storytelling.
Dancer Giuliano Contadini takes on the role of history’s most notorious playboy in Northern Ballet’s latest production, Casanova.
Giacomo Casanova is remembered for his luck with the ladies but this biographical ballet, choreographed by former Northern Ballet premier dancer Kenneth Tindall, promises to reveal the complex man behind all those hedonistic conquests.
Undoubtedly a great seducer, Casanova was also a gifted scholar with big ideas, a moral conscience and depressive tendencies. This Italian adventurer lived life passionately and recorded the highs and lows of his existence in vivid detail in his memoirs. It was these memoirs that inspired Tindall to embark on his first ever full-length work and informed his realisation of Casanova as a fully-rounded character.
Leading soloist Giuliano Contadini is the dancer Kenneth Tindall chose to create the role of Casanova on. Like Casanova, Giuliano is Italian. He also has the same initials as the legendary Lothario!