The latest neoclassical programme from New English Ballet Theatre is The Four Seasons / Remembrance, a stylish double bill that combines the abstract and the historical.
The vibrant young modern ballet company prides itself on creating refreshing new works for developing dancers, thereby furthering the art form and nurturing promising artists. Indeed, Artistic Director and CEO Karen Pilkington-Miksa has been recruiting a fresh batch of dancers each year since founding New English Ballet Theatre in 2011. These dancers receive a 12-month contract which affords them training and development opportunities with exciting creatives, as well as coveted time spent dancing on tour and in the West End.
While past offerings have thrown a spotlight on emerging choreographers, The Four Seasons / Remembrance features works from established dancemakers Jenna Lee and Wayne Eagling.
New English Ballet Theatre is returning to The Peacock Theatre in London’s West End this week with a brand new double bill, The Four Seasons / Remembrance.
As a modern ballet company, New English Ballet Theatre makes a heroic effort to drive the art of classical ballet forward through continual reinvention. It proudly promotes the talents of the next generation of exceptional artists (not only showcasing fledgling dancers but also emerging choreographers, musicians, designers and visual artists), by giving them paid employment in a profession they love.
As a result, the critically acclaimed neoclassical troupe — which was founded by its visionary artistic director, Karen Pilkington-Miksa, in 2011 — is developing a reputation for being one of Britain’s most exciting young ballet companies.
This autumn’s double bill promises to be a visual and musical spectacle of passion, hope and remembrance.
Dancer James Leece plays the title role in the stage show version of classic Christmas cartoon The Snowman.
Between performances and festive family fun, he found time for a chat about choreography, costumes and childhood nostalgia with Georgina Butler.
James Leece was born in Aberdeen and trained at The Royal Ballet School and London Studio Centre. He began his professional performing career dancing for Matthew Bourne’s company in the early days when it was called Adventures in Motion Pictures and continued when it became Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. James has performed roles in Bourne’s Swan Lake, Nutcracker!, Highland Fling, Edward Scissorhands and The Car Man. Further theatre credits include being Robbie and first cover Johnny in the West End production of Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych Theatre, and starring as the leading man, Don Lockwood, in the 2013/2014 UK tour of Singin’ In The Rain.
Currently, James Leece is one of two performers alternating the title role in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of The Snowman at The Peacock Theatre, London dance house Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue. This enchanting show is based on the 1982 animated film, which was inspired by Raymond Briggs’ 1978 children’s book. The narrative sees a young boy and his snowman share a magical night of friendship, fun and flying.
Directed by Bill Alexander, the stage show tells the story entirely through music and dance. It features a musical score and lyrics by the film’s composer Howard Blake — including the classic theme song Walking in the Air – and choreography by Robert North.
The Snowman is now an annual seasonal staple in the capital. The five-week Christmas 2017 run marks the production’s 20th year at The Peacock Theatre, making it the longest-running Christmas show in English theatre history. In November 2017 the cast toured the show to Manchester and Glasgow. The tour will resume throughout January 2018, with performances in Southampton, Milton Keynes and Brighton.
Without a doubt, The Snowman has become a much-loved festive tradition for audiences and cast members alike. Indeed, James is presently donning the fluffy white Snowman suit for his sixth year in the title role. A father to two young children, and an experienced performer, he is full of admiration for this timeless show…
Georgina Butler discovers the collaborative spirit of New English Ballet Theatre
When New English Ballet Theatre invited me to watch rehearsals, chat to members of the production team and learn some of the dancers’ latest choreography I seized the chance to learn more about the young company.
I love ballet. Absolutely adore it. Given any choice — throwing a few drinks back at some trendy new bar or throwing a leg (front, side and back) at the ballet barre; finding myself at a festival or losing myself in a classical masterpiece — I go for the ballet option every time.
My devotion aside, I do sometimes fear for ballet’s future. There is always the very real possibility that classical ballet could become a museum art form. No balletomane wants to see the object of their affections stagnate (with little to offer beyond revivals of existing work) or, if we imagine the worst-case-scenario, become extinct. Although the world’s well-established leading companies have a starring role to play in shaping ballet’s future on the global stage, it is up to the emerging troupes of today to ensure it remains relevant to our lives. Ballet needs to keep evolving; inspire new ideas; attract new audiences.
New English Ballet Theatre is a vibrant modern ballet company determined to drive the art form forward in exactly this way! Founded in 2010 by Artistic Director Karen Pilkington-Miksa, the company is committed to the continual reinvention of classical ballet and aims to present exciting new works to the widest possible audience. The ambition does not stop there though. At the heart of New English Ballet Theatre’s mission is the desire to nurture the next generation of dancers, choreographers, musicians and designers. The company seeks out and hires talented graduates from a variety of disciplines on a seasonal basis, affording emerging artists the creative space and support to explore their full potential.