In preparation for Northern Ballet’s exclusive 45th anniversary Sapphire Gala, it has been announced that the dancers of Northern will be joined by eminent guest artists from The Australian Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Hamburg Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre. This special celebration will be held at Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday 14 March, with tickets available for the general public to purchase. The Sapphire Gala is a rare opportunity to see exceptional dance talent from across the world brought to the stage for one magical performance next month.
The Sapphire Gala will showcase both new and classic pieces from renowned choreographers, and Northern Ballet’s talented dancers will be joined on stage by some of the world’s most celebrated dance artists for one night only. It is notable that many of these artists are rarely seen on the stages of the UK. This spectacular evening will see The Australian Ballet perform extracts of its magical production of Cinderella, particularly. Northern Ballet will also be joined by its renowned contemporary dance company and Leeds neighbours, artists of Phoenix Dance Theatre.
Northern Ballet’s dancers will perform new pieces specially created for them by Artistic Director David Nixon OBE; former Royal Ballet dancer and acclaimed choreographer Jonathan Watkins (who is creating the Northern Ballet’s 2015 première 1984); Northern Ballet dancer and upcoming choreographer Kenneth Tindall and Ballet Master Daniel de Andrade. The company will also perform Little Monsters by Stuttgart Ballet’s resident choreographer Demis Volpi, and Northern Ballet Soloist Lucia Solari will be joined by a guest from Hamburg Ballet to perform an extract from their adaptation of The Nutcracker.
In what looks set to be a thoroughly entertaining evening, audiences will also be treated to a grander version of the Charleston from Northern Ballet’s blockbuster ballet The Great Gatsby, based on the story of the same title.
Northern Ballet, one of the five major companies in the UK, is returning to London’s Sadler’s Wells with its smash hit, sell-out production of The Great Gatsby from 24–28 March. Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year – as well as referencing the box office hit film of the same name – Northern Ballet brings both the glamour and seduction of the roaring twenties to the stage.
Set on New York’s Long Island, Nick Carraway comes to be aware of his infamous neighbour Jay Gatsby – a mysterious millionaire with a secret past and a penchant for lavish parties. As the sparkling façade of Gatsby’s world begins to slip Carraway comes to see the loneliness, obsession and tragedy that lie beneath. The tale is an American classic from an iconic era in the extravagance and style in pre-depression America. The Great Gatsby consequently incorporates these themes within a love story.
Reimagining popular classic stories and embracing popular culture is Northern Ballet’s specialty: nominated for a UK Theatre Award for Achievement in Dance, The Great Gatsby is choreographed by David Nixon OBE and earned him a nomination for Best Classical Choreography in the 2014 National Dance Awards. Based in Leeds, the company performs its mix of classical dance and theatre productions throughout the UK as well as overseas.
Northern Ballet also tours widely with its ballets for children, the first two of which were adapted for TV by CBeebies, and also performs a mixed programme showcasing the versatility of its dancers. Northern Ballet is the busiest touring ballet company in the UK, typically on the road for around 32 weeks of the year. Northern Ballet will introduce a new strand of touring from 2015, widening the company’s reach through a new mid-scale tour with nine additional venues.
Leeds-based company Northern Ballet has recently announced its plans for 2015, following a very successful year on the stage and in the studio in 2014. Having staged a number of successful productions with the dust slowly settling, 2015 looks set to be another exciting year for the company.
The company’s plans will include a new adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 by Jonathan Watkins, a season of love stories, a new mixed bill and much-loved tale, the children’s ballet The Elves and the Shoemaker. Recently the company has also staged fairytales such as The Ugly Duckling to critical acclaim, so audiences look set for a real treat with The Elves and the Shoemaker.
In February 2015, the company will dance the UK premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Romeo and Juliet in Edinburgh, and will go on to tour David Nixon’s ballets Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby. Following an increase in funding from Arts Council England from 2015 to 2018, the company has introduced a new strand of touring: Madame Butterfly and Christopher Hampson’s Perpetuum Mobile will be taken to nine new venues, giving Northern Ballet the potential to reach an additional 18,000 people.
Northern Ballet will mark its 45th anniversary with a Sapphire Gala at Leeds Grand Theatre in March 2015, and in May it will dance a mixed programme in Leeds and at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio theatre. This programme will include the London premiere of Kenneth Tindall’s work The Architect, his most recent work.
In addition, a choreographic ‘laboratory’ workshop will be held in Leeds in May and June; it will work to invite emerging dance makers to work with the company dancers on new narrative material. Not only will this uncover new work for the ascending company, but will also provide unique opportunities for aspiring dance makers.
The Academy of Northern Ballet will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) programme it runs with a fundraising Gala to support the dancing stars of the future. The summer garden themed Gala will take place on 29 June, organised by Northern Ballet’s Leading Soloist Hannah Bateman. It will include exclusive performances by the Academy’s CAT students, past and present, as well as afternoon tea and a drinks reception.
The Academy of Northern Ballet is the official school of Leeds based Northern Ballet, one of the foremost professional ballet companies. It specialises in offering a holistic approach to teaching, nurturing and inspiring the professional dancers of the future and is the only recognised Centre for Advanced Training specialising in Classical Ballet in the UK, with students securing vocational training places at schools including the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and English National Ballet School. Training programmes are offered at professional level, and a wide range of classes at recreational level are available for anyone from the age of 18 months up.
The Gala performance will take place in Northern Ballet’s Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre and will see current CAT programme students perform as well as returning CAT graduates. Performers include Matthew Topliss, now dancing full-time with Northern Ballet, Andrew Tomlinson, who has been training at Canada’s National Ballet School since graduating from the Academy in 2012, and Charlotte Tonkinson, who graduated in 2013 and was the Academy’s first to go on to train at the Royal Ballet Upper School.
Northern Ballet’s CAT programme runs in collaboration with Northern School of Contemporary Dance which offers contemporary dance CAT training. Together, the combined CAT scheme was the first in the UK and has now been joined by a further nine Centres for Advanced Training in the UK offering dance training to young people.
Northern Ballet has announced that its much-anticipated enchanting new ballet for children, Elves & the Shoemaker, will première in Leeds this October, revealed on the evening of the television broadcast of its production Three Little Pigs. The company is extremely excited to launch this brand new production.
Elves & the Shoemaker is the latest in Northern Ballet’s award-winning series of Short Ballets for Small People which already includes the hugely popular Ugly Duckling and Three Little Pigs. The ballet has been created to introduce families and young children to live dance, music and theatre and encourage this participation. It will be performed in venues across Leeds before touring widely across north England and joining theatres on Northern Ballet’s national tour across the UK. It will then tour throughout the UK in spring 2015.
The production will retell the Brothers Grimm story about a shoemaker who receives some much-needed help from two elves: this colourful and heart-warming production is choreographed by Northern Ballet’s Ballet Master Daniel de Andrade. It will be set to an original score by composer Philip Feeney with set designs by Ali Allen. The production will give more young children and families the opportunity to visit the theatre and see ballet for the first time, igniting their interest in the art form with the hope of continuing this throughout the rest of their lives.
The company’s production of Ugly Duckling was a sell-out success on tour and became a BAFTA award-winning TV adaptation for CBeebies. The production of Three Little Pigs continues to delight audiences and critics on tour throughout the UK and a CBeebies television adaptation was screened on Easter Monday this year. Since its inception, Northern Ballet’s ballets for children have been seen live by more than 53,000 people and have been seen on TV by hundreds of thousands of people.
Audiences can have the unique chance to go behind the scenes at two large UK dance companies on 15 February in an event called Open House. Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre are opening their doors to the public for people to take a look at what life is like behind-the-scenes in their multi-award winning building. Open House 2014 is a day of free events, which will run at the companies’ home in Leeds.
There will be plenty of activities for all the family to find out more about the professional dance companies. Visitors can sample an array of Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre’s dancing treats such as open rehearsals and company class, an insight into the creativity of the wardrobe department as well as craft activities, storytelling and face painting for younger dance fans. There is fun for everyone at Open House, from enthusiasts to novices. There are even taster classes on offer for the very young to the over 55’s, and workshops for those with physical disabilities and additional needs.
Open House is a fantastic opportunity to find out more about dance: the event has something for everyone whether you want to take part, are looking to gain an insight into the work of a professional dance company, or hoping to forge a career in dance and looking for some advice. Open House 2014 will be the third year that Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre have opened their home to the public. All events are free although some will require pre-booking through the website.
The event is a rare chance to glimpse at a working dance company in their own home with a wide variety of activities to take part in, so take the whole family!
Northern Ballet has announced plans to take its Academy Open Days on the road to Hull, Doncaster and Harrogate in early 2014 in a bid to find Yorkshire’s most promising young dance talent. The open days are a chance for 9–12 year olds, with and without dance experience, to find out more about the training programmes, technique and auditions.
The free Open Days will take place at Hull College (19 January), Cast in Doncaster (26 January) and Harrogate’s Ashville College (2 February). The Academy of Northern Ballet will also host an Open Day at its home in Leeds on Sunday 16 February for prospective students aged 9–15 years, including a dedicated session for boys. Following the open days, preliminary auditions for all courses will take place on Friday 28 February and Sunday 2 March. Applications should be submitted by Thursday 20 February.
The Academy of Northern Ballet is the official school of Leeds-based Northern Ballet, and specialises in offering a holistic approach to teaching, nurturing and inspiring the professional dancers of the future. As the only recognised Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) in the UK specialising in Classical Ballet, Northern Ballet Academy is hosting Open Days to entice young dancers from across Yorkshire to audition for its professional CAT training programme which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2014. Graduates from Northern Ballet’s CAT programme have gone on to full-time vocational training at top training schools including the Royal Ballet Upper School, English National Ballet School and Central School of Ballet.
Students benefit from teaching methods developed by Northern Ballet’s renowned Ballet Mistress which focuses on developing technique and ensuring that students have the solid foundation required to build a long and rewarding career in dance. The organisation is committed to nurturing the physical and emotional wellbeing of each student in an atmosphere that centres on individual learning and professionalism.
Young students from Headingley Ballet School recently presented a donation to Northern Ballet, specifically the Company’s Sponsor a Dancer campaign. The students have previously used the premises as a venue for their dance shows, home to the inspirational ballet company. The funds were raised following the students’ Pass It On second hand dancewear scheme which allows pupils to buy second hand dancewear and shoes for a small donation. The dancers are set to carry on with the fundraising!
Sponsor a Dancer was launched in 2011 in response to severe budget cuts to Northern Ballet, and has since raised more than £500,000 to support the Company’s work, enabling it to retain a full Company of 40 dancers. Sponsor a Dancer has also been selected to be included in the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2013, an annual match funding event which means any money donated to Sponsor a Dancer from 10am on 5, 6 and 7 December could be doubled. These donations will see Northern Ballet continue to provide employment and development opportunities for the classical ballet dancers, nurture young and upcoming talent through training programmes and be able to continue to create and perform full-length ballets.
Online donations are matched on a first come, first served basis and donations will be matched as long as there are matched funds still available. If not, donors will still be able to make donations but it would not be matched so donors are encouraged to return to the site the following day and donate as close to 10am as possible. The Christmas Challenge will conclude once all of the matched funds have been exhausted until 18 December at 5pm.
Northern Ballet is one of the UK’s five large ballet companies mixing classical dance and theatre to give a unique interpretation of popular classical ballets. It is a busy touring company and typically tours for around 24 weeks of the year. The Company presents a combination of new works and repertoire to cities throughout the UK and are the only large scale ballet company to do so.
Northern Ballet is offering audiences the opportunity to go behind the scenes and discover many theatrical secrets of ‘backstage’ at a free rehearsal event at its headquarters in Leeds. Deemed as the perfect treat for ballet lovers or an introduction to ballet, the event is set to take place on the evening of 14th August, offering audiences the chance to enjoy a cheeky preview of Northern Ballet’s latest production A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The events are the perfect chance to see Northern Ballet’s talented dancers up close and get a taste for the less well-known production, which will run from 6-14 September 2013.
The audience will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Northern Ballet and experience the rehearsal process for themselves; for first-timers of ballet seeing the dancers working up close can be a magical and illusive experience. The event is a great opportunity for new and existing audiences to sample A Midsummer Night’s Dream and see for themselves the transformation that takes place during a ballet’s journey from the rehearsal room to the stage.
Northern Ballet is renowned for producing ballets that reach diverse audiences and the company is completely committed to opening up dance and audience opportunities for as many people as possible to experience the work done by both the dancers and the ‘behind-the-scenes’ staff. The rehearsal event is ticket only, and must be booked in advance.
Northern Ballet’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream is directed by David Nixon. The romantic antics of a touring dance company are played out as it travels by sleeper train from London to Edinburgh, with Nixon’s choreography bringing out the comedy and entanglements of the classic tale. His Dior-inspired costumes, along with monochrome sets give a fantastic contrast to the mysterious and colourful dream world.
With many young, hopeful dance students about to start auditioning for vocational performing arts colleges again, the question on most lips is, “how am I going to pay for this?”. Loan companies that students can apply to when they have secured a place at university are unlikely to offer loans to students attending vocational colleges unless the college offers a degree programme. Some unlucky, yet extremely talented students must turn down places at prestigious training institutions simply because they do not have the adequate funds to survive the course, sometimes because they do not get funding, such as through a Dance And Drama Award (DaDa), and are unable to afford the fees without it.
However, there are many methods of independent fundraising in order to get your legwarmers, jazz shoes and best leotards off to performing arts college. Fundraising can be extremely difficult, but hard work and determination prevails. If going to performing arts college means taking on three jobs throughout the summer and continuing to work throughout your studies then so be it – your passion and dreams to achieve success will carry you through.
Northern Ballet recently ran a successful Sponsor a Dancer campaign following the cuts to funding, and was the subject of a documentary called Arts Troubleshooter on BBC Two when CEO Mark Skipper acknowledged that fundraising can sometimes feel like begging in ballet shoes – other approaches are sometimes required. At The Royal Ballet School, they have a stated policy of never turning away a talented student because of finance. 96% of students there receive some form of financial assistance, enabling their tutus to twirl.
A few ideas of how to raise funds include contacting your local council, as some usually set aside money to be used for performing arts; trying to attract local press to your challenge to secure coverage and the hope of any sponsors; organising fundraising events such as performance and quiz nights with raffles; and working as hard as you can to raise as much for the funds as possible. Sometimes your determination to succeed is recognised by the particular institution you will be attending, and some offer scholarships to reward this hard work, sometimes for a term, a year, or even the rest of your time there.
The opinions expressed in the above article or review are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of my employer.