REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Swan Lake’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2016

 

Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake is overflowing with dance content and features a love triangle that makes the most of the Company’s premier dancers.

There is no definitive version of the iconic classical ballet so choreographers the world over endeavour to continue the history of this masterpiece in their own unique way. Set during the last days of the Belle Époque, Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake provides a no-nonsense rationale for the main character’s connection to water and, thanks to its focus on three close friends experiencing intense and passionate emotions for each other, plenty of opportunities for dramatic partnering.

An atmospheric Prologue functions as an absorbing mini drama, recounting the lakeside loss that drives David Nixon’s inventive narrative.

 

Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake. Northern Ballet dancers Kenneth Tindall and Keiko Amemori in Swan Lake. Photo by Bill Cooper.

 

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REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Tortoise & the Hare’ – CBeebies, March 2016

 

Northern Ballet’s Tortoise & the Hare is a sunny, sporty, springtime delight.

Northern Ballet’s latest family-friendly production is a take on Aesop’s beloved fable Tortoise & the Hare. The show adds to the company’s growing repertoire of short story ballets, which have been carefully concocted with younger audience members in mind.

Previous successes Ugly Duckling, Three Little Pigs and Elves & the Shoemaker captivated theatregoers nationwide and were made into popular television adaptations. As a result, my expectations are high for Tortoise & the Hare – currently on tour – and Goldilocks & the Three Bears – recently announced as the fifth show in the series.

Fortunately, Tortoise & the Hare has also been filmed for the small screen and it made its television début on CBeebies this morning. Unsurprisingly, it proved to be the perfect Easter Monday pick-me-up…

 

Northern Ballet in Tortoise & the Hare. Photo Brian Slater View Post

REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘1984’ – BBC Four, February 2016

 

Northern Ballet is renowned for taking inspiration from literature, classical dance, theatre, opera and popular culture to develop new and original productions. The latest masterwork to be put under observation and reimagined through dance by the Company is the cult classic political philosophy novel 1984. George Orwell’s dystopian drama follows the moves of one Winston Smith. Winston lives in a world of absolute conformity where his every action is scrutinised by Big Brother, a sinister surveillance squad. However, when Winston crosses paths with a woman named Julia he dares to rebel by falling in love…

The significance of the surveillance state in our society demonstrates the enduring relevance of Orwell’s perceptive predictions. We may not have gone as far as branding independent thinking as “thoughtcrime” but the persecution of individualism is something that threatens us all as homogeneity and fear of difference reign.

In 1984, darkness always looms and lives are joyless. However, transfixed by a special small-screen showing of choreographer Jonathan Watkin’s interpretation for Northern Ballet on BBC Four last night, I could find nothing but joy in the power of dance to tell this tale of tyranny.

 

1984. Northern Ballet dancers Tobias Batley as Winston Smith and Martha Leebolt as Julia in Northern Ballet's 1984. Photo by Guy Farrow. View Post

REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Elves & the Shoemaker’ – May 2015

 

A couple of cheeky elves conjure up magical shoes that are made for dancing in Northern Ballet’s latest captivating production for children, Elves & the Shoemaker.

Inspired by the 1806 Brothers Grimm fairytale, Elves & the Shoemaker tells the story of a poor, hard-working and benevolent shoemaker called Bertie and his caring wife Bettina. Despite their own struggles to make ends meet, they are extremely generous souls who go out of their way to help others. They become the recipients of an act of kindness themselves when two elves, named Tap and Stitch, pay them a visit one night.

These sprightly creatures transform the shoemaker’s very last piece of leather into a pair of magnificent shoes. They are a perfect fit for the next customer who enters the store and the sale means the delighted shoemaker has enough money to restock his workbench. To his amazement, the industrious elves return on multiple occasions and produce footwear to entice an assortment of shoppers. How will the shoemaker and his wife ever repay these helpful visitors?

 

Northern Ballet Elves & the Shoemaker

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REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2015

 

Northern Ballet’s Wuthering Heights is an emotive, expressive and eloquent adaptation of Emily Brontë’s absorbing tale of two doomed lovers.

With its deep and interwoven romantic relationships and powerful themes of betrayal and revenge, the narrative could not be more suited to portrayal through dance – and Northern Ballet are the company to beat when it comes to dramatic interpretation.

 

Northern Ballet's Wuthering Heights.

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