Northern Ballet’s new work, based on John Boyne’s eponymous book, tells a complicated story set in and around a death camp in the midst of the Holocaust. This is extraordinarily difficult subject matter, which does not lend itself easily to narrative dance, and choreographer Daniel de Andrade along with his collaborators (dramatic coach Patricia Doyle, designers Mark Bailey and Tim Mitchell, and composer Gary Yershon), has done well to convey the complex plot.

The score, which is demanding to listen to and intricate to play, is integral to the work, and at times the instrumental accompaniment and danced steps seem to represent conversations between the characters, in the manner of a scene in a nineteenth century ballet. (more…)

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Northern Ballet has a longstanding repertoire tradition of narrative ballets, often based on iconic works of literature, and David Nixon’s 2013 realisation of Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has coincided happily with a wider audience’s hunger for the nostalgic glamour of this perennial classic generated by the film version starring Leonardo di Caprio.   This production returned this week to Sadler’s Wells following its first sell-out run and garlanded with award nominations. Having missed it the first time round I seized a last minute opportunity to catch up with this popular company’s doings. (more…)

Two love triangles, one man obsessed with another’s wife, death, murder and endless parties:  what could possibly go wrong?  Northern Ballet’s production of The Great Gatsby shows how difficult it is to construct a narrative ballet.

There was plenty to enjoy: not least the dancers’ vibrant energy, secure balances, zippy turns, sharp footwork and yearning adagio.  There were glorious moments, when Martha Leebolt (Daisy) rippled across the stage in whirling chainés turns, or Tobias Batley (Gatsby) and Giuliano Contadini (Carraway) tossed her into the air so that she flew between them like a bird, her feet beating the air. (more…)