REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Ugly Duckling’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2013

 

“Quacking” tale of 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 – 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.

 

Northern Ballet dancers in Ugly Duckling (photo by Martin Bell).

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REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2013

 

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).

 

Northern Ballet dancers in The Great Gatsby (photo by Bill Cooper).

 

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REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2012

 

Stunning storytelling and fairytale escapism from Northern Ballet 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.

*

Northern Ballet dancers Kenneth Tindall as Prince Orian and Martha Leebolt as Beauty in Beauty and the Beast. Production photography by Bill Cooper.

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REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Cleopatra’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, May 2011

 

COURAGEOUS AND COMPULSIVE CLEOPATRA

Northern Ballet’s Cleopatra is a mesmerising production.

 

Northern Ballet’s retelling of the story of Cleopatra 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.

*

CLEOPATRA; NORTHERN BALLET,

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