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)
“Quacking” tale makes for a delightful introduction to ballet for little ducklings
A lonely duckling who just doesn’t fit in, a menagerie of colourful animal characters and plenty of creative choreography feature in Ugly Duckling, Northern Ballet’s first ballet especially for children.
Ugly Duckling is a captivating adaptation of the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.
Northern Ballet is renowned for powerful storytelling and inventive interpretations of well-loved classical ballets and innovative new productions — all inspired by popular culture, literature and opera. Now, the company is on a mission to capture the imaginations of tots, introducing them to the magic of live ballet, music and theatre with a specially created short ballet, based on a familiar tale.
The Northern Ballet take on The Great Gatsby is a stylish adaptation of a classic novel.
I got my invitation to the “roaring twenties” and I loved it!
The heady, indulgent days of the 1920’s are captured within the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby and Northern Ballet is currently bringing the era of the moment to life at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Everyone is going gaga for Gatsby — with the resurgence influencing fashion, making its mark in Hollywood and inspiring new London fringe theatre shows — and the inventive dance company’s latest blockbuster adaptation combines all the glamour and opulence of the period. The story focuses on American life straight after the First World War, when the United States and much of the world experienced huge economic expansion. This surging economy meant easy money, hard drinking (flying in the face of Prohibition) and lavish parties.
Peripheral narrator Nick Carraway moves east to New York’s Long Island in the spring of 1922. Here, he rents a house in a wealthy but unfashionable area populated by the ‘new rich’ (those who have recently acquired their money, lack established social connections and are prone to garish displays of wealth). Soon, he is drawn to mysterious neighbour Jay Gatsby – a millionaire with a secret past and a penchant for lavish parties and beautiful women.
Nick spends time with his second cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan and meets Tom’s mistress Myrtle (married to mechanic George Wilson). Our protagonist then has a tentative romance with pro-golfer Jordan Baker and gets to know Gatsby — reflecting upon just how empty life among the wealthy can be. Ultimately, behind the optimism and frivolity of the decadent jazz age, hypocrisy and shallow recklessness pervade.
Artistic Director David Nixon had the surely daunting task of translating the much-lauded book to ballet. He is passionate about creating innovative full-length ballets and attracting new audiences. Consequently the Company is known for its stunning story-telling (past successes have included adaptations of Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast and Wuthering Heights).
Stunning storytelling and fairytale escapism in Beauty and the Beast
It is always a cause for celebration when a new ballet is choreographed and even more so when the story is Beauty and the Beast, a magical tale that we are all familiar with.
Northern Ballet always offer great storytelling but their latest offering in particular has such a strong narrative flow that the glossy printed programme is simply a lovely souvenir, rather than a necessity to follow the plot.
Beauty and the Beast incorporates a distinctly less challenging storyline than the Company’s previous show, Cleopatra, and the production embodies the fairytale with a romantic eloquence. This a classic story, one that balances the forces of good and evil and emphasises the overarching theme that love can conquer all.
COURAGEOUS AND COMPULSIVE CLEOPATRA
Northern Ballet’s Cleopatra is a mesmerising production which beautifully illustrates the Company’s strengths.
The show takes the audience on a journey akin to wandering through an extravagant museum exhibition, effectively bringing Ancient Egypt to life.
Production and choreography — from the hieroglyphics projected onto the backdrop to the stances adopted by the dancers — combine to evoke the era in an absorbing spectacle.