This Saturday we will be taking to the streets of Leeds with Ballet on Briggate – a chance to see Northern Ballet for free while you do your shopping! We will have a large stage outside Debenhams in the centre of Briggate where there will be performances by Northern Ballet dancers, Northern Ballet Academy and Phoenix Dance Theatre Academy students, prize giveaways, a chance to join in with some ballet moves and much more!
The dancers will be performing extracts from The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, and we will be encouraging the public to have a go themselves, with our ballet barre and energizer activities. There will be a chance to win free tickets for Northern Ballet performances, as well as discounts and vouchers for everyone who attends.
There aren’t many opportunities to see your favourite ballet company for free, so pop along to Briggate between 12pm – 2pm on Saturday to join in all the action!
We now only have a few weeks left of enrolment for our classes for young children and places are filling up fast. Don’t miss out on this opportunity for your child to train with Northern Ballet Theatre in Leeds.
Classes range from mini movers (a parents and tots class) to classes for 16-year-olds.
The classes are a great way for children to make friends, stay active and learn more about music and dance as well as working alongside the professional dancers.
It’s the start of the school holidays, but pupils at Cockburn College of Arts and the surrounding primary schools don’t get a rest as they are taking part in our summer school, in partnership with Phoenix Dance Theatre.
Leaping into action on Monday, the 34 young people aged 9 – 16 years old have been taking a daily class where they are improving their technique and, working with Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix, they are developing movement that will form part of a final dance piece that they will perform to parents at the end of the week.
Today is the third day of the course, and with many of them not being used to dancing all day, there were a few sore bodies this morning that needed loosening off in an energetic class! The piece they are creating will also be performed at the launch of our new building in January, and so they have been creating sequences in pairs, inspired by Celebrations and First Meetings – drawing on how they feel when first meeting someone and welcoming them in.
They have all been very keen to learn and to have a go, even if what they are learning is more challenging than they are used to. And it is great to see them working together, helping each other and becoming a team. This will be a real benefit to the pupils from the primary schools that will be coming to Cockburn in September, as they will know familiar faces and will feel confident in their new school.
As choreographer of the final piece, Sharon has been taking the movements that the young people have come up with, and piecing them together into one piece that reflects the excitement of the opening of the new building and the opportunities this presents. This afternoon they have been developing travelling sequences, including supports and lifts, and working on the quality and precision of movement needed when performing.
NBT and Phoenix Dance Theatre are in Middleton this week with their summer school for young people. The course is being held at the Cockburn College of Arts and will introduce primary and secondary school students to ballet and contemporary dance. As well as honing their dance skills the project aims to ease the transition from primary to secondary school: the younger members are being introduced to their new school and the older members will mentor and help them. Dance artists from both companies are leading the project and Phoenix’s Artistic Director, Sharon Watson, will choreograph a piece which will be performed at the end of the week for the parents.
But that is not all … The group will come back together over 4 weekends in December and January to prepare for a second performance, this time at the official launch of NBT and Phoenix’s new dance centre in Leeds. This will give them the unique opportunity to perform in a professional dance space alongside professional and community groups. The project will open up additional opportunities to work with NBT and Phoenix, through theatre trips, dance projects, after school classes and future dance activities in school.
To celebrate the Opening weekend of the 2012 London Olympics, imove’s Don’t Just Sit There project will be performing at Headingley Carnegie Cricket ground on Friday, 23rd July, 2010 (15:10 – 15:30 tea break) during the Australia vs Pakistan test match.
The performance consists of eleven Lishi practitioners of traditional Chinese movement dressed in full cricket attire positioned on the Headingley pitch as fielders surrounding two batsmen and a professional dancer from Phoenix Dance Theatre representing the ball!
The piece blurs the line between art, culture and sport, engaging the crowd’s imagination with the links between cricket, dance and traditional Chinese movement. As the Olympic torch is passed from Beijing to London, Yorkshire is getting involved and this thought provoking piece in the sporting heart of the county should inspire and excite.
The piece will be a springboard for further development with schools, youth cricket teams and dance groups across Yorkshire as part of the Don’t Just Sit There 3 year project.
Phoenix Dance Theatre is a repertory dance company with a reputation for presenting a broad range of work. Over the last 29 years, from small beginnings in inner-city Leeds, the company has grown to be one of Britain’s leading contemporary dance companies and from its home in Leeds tours nationally and internationally, bringing inspiring and entertaining dance to the widest possible audience.
Lishi has been delivering traditional Chinese movement and dance in the UK since 1930. Originating in China, Lishi has developed highly creative approaches to delivering traditional Chinese knowledge and movement so that anyone, from elite sports people to primary school children, can benefit. From the UK, Lishi has spread its success to many countries in Europe and the US.
We are delighted to announce the following promotions which take effect from September 2010:
- Julie Charlet, Michela Paolacci and Ayana Kanda from Coryphée to Soloist
- Lori Gilchrist, Sebastian Loe and Michael Berkin From 5th year Corps to Coryphée
- Dreda Blow from 4th to 5th Year Corps
- Jessica Morgan, Rachel Gillespie, Ben Mitchell, Thomas Aragones, Graham Kotowich and Yoshihisa Arai from 2nd to 3rd Year Corps
- Antoinette Brooks-Daw, Ayami Miyata, Rym Kechacha and Jeremy Curnier from 1st to 2nd Year Corps
- Anna Blackwell from Apprentice to 1st Year Corps.
We also welcome Nicola Gervasi, who joins our 1st Year Corps from Peter Schaufuss Ballet. Joining us as apprentices are: Michaela Griffin from Cape Town City Ballet, Josh Barwick, an ex-Northern Ballet Associate and Elmhurst graduate, and Matthew Broadbent who comes to us from the Royal Ballet School.
We have bid farewell to Christopher Hinton Lewis who left the Company earlier this year to join the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Chris danced with us for 10 years giving many memorable performances in roles including Hamlet, Romeo and Heathcliff.
Ginnie Ray has hung up her pointe shoes to be a full-time mother to her daughter Rebecca. A valued member of the Company for 11 years she danced many roles including Lady Capulet (Romeo & Juliet), Mrs Darling (Peter Pan) and Milady De Winter (The Three Musketeers).
Senior Artiste Nathalie Léger has retired as a dancer after many successful years with us, Basel ballet, Deutsche Oper Am Rhein and Ballet De Monte Carlo. She will remain on the teaching staff for the Company and the Academy.
Soloist David Ward gave his last performance with us as Peter Pan in Macau last week. David joined the Company in 2005 and has performed many leading roles including Cinq Mars in The Three Musketeers, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Solar in La Bayadere. He leaves NBT to work with BalletMet in Ohio.
During our spring/summer season 2010 the Company performed four full-length productions (Romeo & Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Peter Pan and Dangerous Liaisons) at 11 venues in towns and cities across the UK including Edinburgh, Woking, Cardiff, Milton Keynes and Glasgow, as well overseas in Honk Kong and Macau.
Our’s autumn/winter season starts with performances of Dangerous Liaisons at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds on Tuesday 7 September and will continue with performances of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker in 9 UK venues including Bradford, Woking and Aylesbury (Swan Lake) and Nottingham, Norwich, Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds (The Nutcracker).
Here’s Hannah‘s final report from the international tour…
Friday in Macau
We had class today at 12.30 – 13.45, then straight into the tech at 14.00- 17.00 with the Orchestra here in Macau. Time for a quick swim after early breakfast, a dip in the pool is a really great way to start a day! The tech went really well and the Orchestra sounded great, I keep my ear’s open as it’s only human nature to go on auto pilot after hearing the recording for a week or so. A live orchestra really does give a show that extra lift and edge of excitement. The show was a success and people of Macau relished the chance to scream ‘yes’ to believing in fairies. Room service at the hotel for me after the show and then bed ASAP, starting to feel like the end of the season!
Saturday the last day
The rain is beating down at quite a rate but I think we will be typhoon-free or at least if it could hold off till we take our flights home tomorrow that would be great. Tonight is David Ward’s last show with the Company and a chance for us all to say farewell to him before he departs for a new adventure in Ballet Met, Ohio, USA. We also say a fond farewell to Georgina Gabbie (Doll) who is leaving us to tour with Evita. David and Georgina will be very much missed.
We had class with Dan today at 11.30 and then double duty with performances at 14.30 and 19.30. In between the shows I took the 4 minute walk back to the hotel to get on top of my luggage, literally! Some people went for a last afternoon dip in the pool.
Show went really well tonight, extra excitement as so many of the dancers will be on their way home tomorrow to see family they haven’t seen for up to a year. I am sure there will be much celebration this evening!
Sunday, home time!
We left at 9.30am from the Grand Lapa, which we have all enjoyed calling home for the last five days. We are off to all four corners of the globe as we also start our summer break today: Japan, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and so on.
I have really enjoyed this overseas summer tour and would like to take this opportunity to thank all our fab techies, our great physio, Adam, who goes out of his way to make sure all of us are fit, well and happy. The ballet staff, music staff, wardrobe and Doll. But also my fellow dancers who I am always honoured to share a stage with. Every department has pulled together as only NBT can and have really pulled off eight wonderful shows to be proud of
I asked around and highlights of this tour have been the pool (!), the amazing audiences in HK and Macau, spending time together, all touring departments, the Cirque [de Soleil] show and getting to dance aboard. It has been a long season from August last year to now. We started with Dracula and have ended with Peter Pan. We had a crazy busy but awesome Christmas season with the Alumni Christmas Carol and the highlight that was the Gala. I feel privileged to do this job and I am well aware I couldn’t do it if NBT didn’t have the support of all our friends and audiences. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
First things we will be doing when we get home, having a cup of tea! Being reunited with family and pets who include Kitri and Basilio the Yorkshire Terriers in France and Coco the Boxer in Italy. I am off to Koh Samui, and then back to Yorkshire to rescue my garden! Till next time, it’s good bye to HK and Macau and hello holidays!!!
Monday: on to Macau
At 11.45 we met at the foyer of the YMCA Hong Kong for a 12.00 on-the-dot leave to the ferry terminal. We put our cases into what looked like a Chinese bin lorry and then onto an air conditioned coach. Not too far to drive and everyone is double checking they have everything they need and are all organised. We were all hoping for a quick, smooth journey over to Macua, as the sooner we got there, the sooner we could start the ‘day off’. A bizarre check-in period: we were ushered in groups of ten from one official to another until we got to the seating area and were abruptly told to, ‘sit, wait’! It was slightly painful as we loaded all 60 plus of us into a lift, 5 at a time, to the ferry terminal area but we got to the boarding area eventually!
A few of us have slightly delicate stomachs but travel sickness tablets are very reliable and we have travel bands on too. All ready for the 60 min crossing to Macau, or Mini Vegas as it is nicknamed.
So our 1hr 30min journey turned into a 5hr journey door-to-door. By the time we got to our rooms we were all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves, very hot and uncomfortable. Time for a shower to cool off and calm down. So as we waited for our luggage to arrive at to our hotel rooms we went to explore the hotel and all was forgiven when we found this…
We raced back to our rooms. Yippee! A tropical pool !!! Gleeful smiles on all our faces and the journey was forgotten!
A very kind man named Victor, one of the wonderful staff at the Grand Lapa, helped a few of us book tickets and travel to the Venetian over on Taipei to see Zaia a Cirque du Soliel. It started at 8pm and we left our hotel and pool at 7pm. There are free shuttle services between most of the main casino’s 24hr a day, yet more evidence of just how much money the casinos actually make. The show was out of this world as Cirque shows always are. Just think of what ballet could do with half a cirque budget! Oh to dream. On Monday night we all slept very well indeed!
Tuesday: our long-awaited day off
Most of us took advantage of a lie in and just made it for breakfast, which had something to suit all of our many nationalities. Then straight back to the pool for us all. The techies didn’t start till 2pm assuming their containers arrived on time.
The atmosphere at the pool was great. There were hardly any other guests and NBT had taken over in the best possible way. We all got to spend some quality time together and after five excellent shows in Hong Kong we felt like we deserved some time out. As dancers seem to always do, there was a lot of practicing of lifts in the water, a great place to practice with the only worry being water up the nose!
Ash, John and David were practicing propelling Thomas into the air to see how far they could throw him to allow him enough time to do multiple somersaults! The techies helped out too and also scored the highest out of 10 for their efforts. We all started to have ago on this kind of human trampoline. My first attempt was rubbish as was attempt #2. Determined not to be the worst one I gave it one last shot. Apparently it was a very, very good somersault but I was somewhat distracted with a slight wardrobe malfunction! Let’s just say a bikini isn’t the best attire to somersault in! I did get 10 out of 10, even if the crowd had gotten more than they bargained for! Good job we are all good friends!!
At 1.30pm David, Kenny and Micky had to drag themselves away to a press conference. This was a great experience for the Peter, Hook and Tink. All the Macau media were there and it was televised in mainland China, and Macau in English, Chinese, Mandarin and Portuguese! It lasted well over an hour and after the three of them where all talked out!
In the afternoon we took a slow walk in the heat around the MGM Grand and theatre. Some went to see Usher performing at the Ventian. Early to bed for me though, Mr. Nixon for class tomorrow morning!
Wednesday: Just class today
Mr Nixon for class at 10 till 11.30 today and then the rest of the day off. Full day for our techies and the local crew. They are finding the heat insufferable, I can’t imagine how horrid it must be to load in a show in humidity, I find it hard enough to pull my own body around let alone a load of set and lights, stage-weights etc.
Class with Mr Nixon was awesome, really got us stretched out and ready. He can be very inspiring as can Yoko. It’s great to always be encouraged to improve and hone our technique rather than just go through the motions of class.
The theatre seems great: large and very clean. They don’t quite have the individualism of our theatres back home but they do the job very well. More of a look around in the afternoon, and I treat myself to a Thai massage, heaven indeed! Salsa night at the MGM Lion bar, you don’t have to ask dancers to do this more than once. Then off to bed, not too late, tech tomorrow.
Thursday: Class and a Tech
Class at 1.30, so time for a morning swim. Then class with Yoko, excellent. David felt like we had all been doing really well and there was no need for a separate flying rehearsal, so thank you all the Peter’s and Darling children! We moved on through the day and completed the tech by 5.50pm. We all got to finish early and had the evening off. Lots of people took advantage of the free Wifi at the theatre and sent messages home.
Three shows to go. We stopped of at the Sofitel Hotel as they had a really good Micheal Jackson exhibition on and then off to bed. It’s business as usual tomorrow: technical rehearsal with the Macau orchestra and then our first show in Macau.
By the way today we were issued with a level 1 typhoon warning! Umm … should I be worried?
The Learning team has certainly been out and about over the last couple of weeks. Whilst Jo and Caroline have been carrying out a project during the company’s tour to Hong Kong, Pippa (Learning Coordinator) and Selina (Director of Learning) were busy at the Great Yorkshire Show.
Northern Ballet Theatre is a key partner in Don’t Just Sit There – part of the I MOVE Yorkshire Cultural Olympiad project. Don’t Just Sit There aims to encourage as many people as possible to get moving and thinking about their bodies, up to the 2012 Olympics and beyond. Over the three days of the Great Yorkshire Show, performances of dance, physical theatre, and music were combined to create a wonderful showcase of local talent. Over 130,000 visitors to the show enjoyed watching the performances and were also encouraged to get moving themselves!
Below we have a wonderful collection of images to give you a flavour of how we spread the word of Don’t Just Sit There at the region’s largest agricultural show.
Stage manager, Olivia Dermot-Walsh, tells us about the trials, tribulations and thrills of touring overseas…
We’ve landed! Off the plane and heading for immigration. Everyone is dishevelled and the smokers need cigarettes. We have to go through customs as a group and as soon as we’re free and have collected luggage we charge to the open air for a first look at Hong Kong. As the sliding doors open the heat hits us and we’re drenched in sweat from the colossal humidity and the heat.
It takes ages for Martin (Deputy Chief Electrician) to come though and we find out that once again he had been held up – this time he was given a “visitor’s visa” instead of a work one and was interviewed while they sorted it out. This happens quite often to the poor chap so everyone laughs a lot.
We are ferried to the coach and make the 40 minute drive into mainland Hong Kong. We arrive at 17:15 local time at the hotel. We’re staying at the YMCA and in great oriental style the hotel has a very impressive reception lobby/foyer. Our rooms are bright and spacious with views over the harbour to Hong Kong island.
We set off on our first adventure into Hong Kong (also to try and get our body clocks sorted) for beer, food and to celebrate Abi’s (Electrician) birthday. We have a fantastic evening ending with a evening stroll along the waterfront by the venue. The harbour is amazing at night with all the buildings illuminations reflected in the water.
Tuesday morning at 9am Wilky (Steve Wilkins, Technical Manager) is called into the venue to unload the containers. There goes his 12 hour break, poor bloke! The rest of us try and get our bodies to behave as our brains say it’s daytime and our bodies say bedtime. Jet-lag is always funny for the first 3 days and we walk round in a bubble.
Hong Kong is full of smells, street vendors & bustle. Everyone vies for your attention and I notice how tall I feel at 5′ 7″. Inside the polished air conditioned malls with Gucci, Prada & YSL it feels like another world. I feel under dressed in my flip-flops and shorts. Hong Kong is very mixed metropolis. I love it.
Today is day one of the set build. The crew are call to start at 14:00 hours so I am left to my own devices for a few hours till I start at 19:00. I spend a lovely air-conditioned afternoon in the Hong Kong Cultural Museum and Art Gallery. I have a passion for tea ceramic art and find a wonderful exhibition dedicated to the subject.
I arrive at the venue and find that the stage area is massive – true operatic grandness. There is so much room instead of scene changes we could build complete sets and push one off into the wings, pull the next on and still have room to spare. Truly awesome.
The crew have already built the revolve (the turntable the Jolly Roger spins on) and are laying the sprung dance floor when I arrive. The local crew are very efficient and numerous – there are many more then you’d find in a UK venue. I’m introduced to Agnes, the crew chief, who is lovely, and her Number One, Bo Bo.
With a whole unloading dock to myself I unpack all the props and place the tables out. At 20:00 Wilkie calls a break so that we can all pile out of the venue and watch the famous Hong Kong light show from the water’s edge.
It’s pretty impressive but for us seasoned techies it made us laugh. Then back to work, soon it’s time to finish. Everyone is exhausted but positive.
Day two of the set build. We are all called for 10:00 – another full day of building, focusing and mending. Some of the properties have been trashed in transit, it’s the way it goes! So I spend the whole day with drills, paint, glue gun, burnt fingers and a touch of creativity to polish everything ready for tomorrow’s technical rehearsal.
The rest of the team arrive with the dancers today at 17:15. They won’t be called till 17:30 to cover class and do final props checks/maintenance before the technical rehearsal scheduled for 19:00.
Day three of the build: I sleep in till 13:00 and feel better for it. Jet-lag’s nearly ok. I make my way into the venue via good old Starbucks for coffee and (very) hot Danishes. The technical rehearsal goes really well, the local crew really are amazingly efficient.
Day four of the build & first performance: I call Stage Management for 30mins before stage reset to make sure we ready to go for the dress rehearsal, which goes incredibly smoothly. We have an even smoother opening night!
Jim (Flyman) and I decide to head off the night market after the show but by the time everything is packed up and turned off when we get there. There’s an eerie feeling walking down empty packed up streets that look like they should be full of life. We find an amazing sushi restaurant and have dinner before heading back for sleep.
Day five, back-stage tour & second the third shows: I arrive at 11:30 and set the stage out for the back-stage tour. They can’t tell me if the group coming to visit is young or old so I have Laura Burges (Assistant Stage Manager) and Jim Hannon (Flyman) as technical support for any difficult questions. When the 50 people arrive they are all mothers with small children so we adapt the tour accordingly. It is great fun to watch them all pile into the small rowing boat as their parents snap away with cameras. Next to meet the Crocodile – five small boys descend on our Old Croc and almost hug it to death.
Later we prepare for two shows and everything is going smoothly until the final Nursery scene change when the local flyman pulls back a curtain revealing the crew building the set. All of the local crew hit the decks leaving our crew holding the heavy flats up, their silent black figures motionless until the star-cloth was brought back down. Everyone was safe, but a disappointed sigh escaped our lips. These things happen – it wouldn’t be live theatre if things always went well.
We get to the turn around and find the stage management team only have a half hour break between shows so everyone if rushing around trying to get food down them. Show 3 goes very well with no hiccups so everyone relieved.
Day six. A very early class 9:30am (!!) then 2 shows (!!!!!!) and a get out (!!!!!!!!!!). We don’t come up for air till 19:00 when Agnes invites us for farewell dinner. Oh Yeah!
We’re now in Macau in a great hotel under a typhoon warning! The sets are calling, have to go…
The third and final day of the Learning project with the British Council and the Providence Centre of Rehab in Hong Kong has been and gone, and the feedback from the participants has been fantastic. Today saw the dance artists and care workers delivering their own activities during a workshop with centre members who suffer from learning difficulties, putting into practice the skills they have learned this week.
In small groups, they planned a movement activity for a warm up, and suggested ways to develop this idea. All of the groups did remarkably well, having had little or no experience of delivering movement activities before. One of the groups of care workers used props to initiate movements, and then developed this by asking members of the group to order the movements into sequences. The care workers and dance artists felt a real sense of achievement and confidence in leading a session and seeing their planned ideas working successfully with the members. After the workshop session the care workers and dance artists spoke about the positive effects of movement for the centre members and about how activities for the whole group can work on different levels according to what each participant can achieve.
Over the three days of the project we have been able to see the confidence of the centre members grow as they were given the freedom to lead movement and as they connected with their care workers on a different level. The workshops were a real buzz of energy and excitement, and the Rehab Centre are looking forward to developing movement sessions into their daily programme of activities, with the care workers inspired and enthusiastic to try out their new ideas.
You can learn more about our production of Dangerous Liaisons on our website and you can book directly from the theatre:
West Yorkshire Playhouse – Box Office: 0113 213 7700 or Book Online.
Performances run from Tuesday 7 September to Saturday 11 September. Evening performances are 7:30pm, Tuesday matinée 2:30pm and the Saturday matinée begins at 2:00pm and is Audio Described.
Bringing the house down at Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts!
As part of the Learning team’s involvement with the nationwide ‘Find Your Talent’ project, a small group of dancers were involved in the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts last week. Dance artist, Zoe Parker, and three young participants formed the ‘Inspired Youth Dance Co.’ to perform a duet and group piece at the 104th festival, held at the King’s Hall in Ilkley.
The Learning team at Northern Ballet Theatre is currently working hard to investigate the provision in Leeds and the surrounding area for inclusive dance activities for young people. Whilst one-off projects are relatively common, opportunities for those who are perhaps in a wheelchair or have special educational needs to get involved in dance on a regular basis is more limited. Through contacts at ‘Find Your Talent’ and Artforms, as well as support from the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts, the chance to bring together a small group to perform at the festival arose. The opportunity was one not to be missed! After just four rehearsal sessions, the participants performed in the Music for a Summer’s Day concert alongside pupils from Bruntcliffe School, North Ridge School, Brooklands School and the ‘Off by Heart’ choir. The two dance pieces – ‘La Valse du Roue’ and ‘Deux’ – received an overwhelming response, including much cheering and clapping from the audience!
The Learning team are now looking to build on the success of this project in the future. If you would be interested in taking part in similar inclusive dance opportunities, then please do get in touch.
First Soloist, Hannah Bateman, tells us about the tour to Hong Kong from a dancer’s perspective…
So off to Hong Kong we go!
We’ve never finished a touring season abroad, when we have done overseas tours before they have been at the beginning of a season. So after a touring stretch from February till now with a total of six ballets within that time, we were all feeling the end of season blues but the excitement of a trip abroad filled us with some much needed energy.
I chose to do a mad dash drive down to my sister’s house on Monday night after a final run through at West Park in the day as my stomach prefers not to travel by coach! But the rest of the Company headed off, guide books in hand, at 12 noon on Tuesday. It was going to be a long journey as the arrival time meant we were due in to Hong Kong on Wednesday at 15.30. I met my fellow travellers at Heathrow at about 16.45 and so it really began.
I hate group check-ins, but they are a big part of the experience so you just have to sit back and relinquish control (not a strong point of mine!) After check in, the big wait and for me especially the big temptation! I really don’t need any more perfume, make-up, etc just because it is discounted, stay away. This time however I was really pushed to my limit as there is a Mulberry shop at terminal 3, lucky my credit card is wrapped in cling film. It really is just for emergencies!!!
We arrived in good time and even though the flight was very long and uncomfortable you are restored with a temporary burst of enthusiasm as you ride from the airport to the hotel.
Hong Kong is a strange metropolitan jungle, a mix of Japan and New York on the sea front. It is so over-developed, perhaps we were never meant to adopt this island as a business hub but somehow someone has squished a load of high-rise everything on to it.
A quick story from the plane
The main aim of a long haul flight is to try and stop the swelling! I have had long haul flights before where my feet have swollen so much that I cannot get my pointe shoes on the next day, so every dancer adopts their own way of handling this. Kenny purchased some rather flashy state of the art tights by Skins, compression wear and this worked out really well for him, I had flight socks (I won’t bother next time!) Some drink loads of water before the flight and take Paracetamol. Georgina was determined to find somewhere to lie down, good luck to her I thought! Well, half way through the flight, it was like everyone everywhere was asleep and as I looked around with green envy I realised Georgina wasn’t in her seat. Great, I thought, I can go and find her and we can trade magazines as planned and have a chat and a cup of tea by the fire exit. I looked around the plane three times! She was nowhere to be seen. I had horrid thoughts of her being stolen like in ‘Flight Plan’.
Where was she? Lori, who she was sat on Georgina’s row was squished on her seat, the third of their line was fast asleep in a labour-like pose. One leg resting on the back of the seat and the other resting on the food trays! As Lori woke I dashed to her and in a frantic whisper asked, “Have you seen Georgie? I can’t find her anywhere!”
At that exact moment a head popped up between the food trays and Ben’s right leg and a sleepy voice said, “that was great a got 3 good hours sleep.” Georgina had slipped under the trays and the three chairs and had made herself a pretty good make shift bed with plane blanket and pillow. Swelling averted! Well done Georgie!
We attempted to stay awake for as long as possible on Wednesday to get on Hong Kong time so we all went off to explore our new city and most were in bed by 10pm.
Our first day in the theatre, a morning of sight-seeing, late class at 17.30 and the first tech.
The humidity is a killer; we drank loads of water and walked very slowly. Note to self, don’t bother moisturising in the morning as you just end up sweating it out and, quite frankly, it becomes a waste of money (there are air conditioned walk-ways but we haven’t found them yet!)
We looked around a couple of shopping centres, the Botanical Gardens, Zoo and we managed to stop for lunch inside the IFC building at Pret-A-Manger of all places.
By the time we made it up the steep winding hill to the Gardens we were greeted by a small shop where we quickly purchased water and Christie & I purchased a very natty fan each! We wanted to get out there and see what Hong Kong has to offer, but I was still feeling the effects of the flight and the thought of class and a tech is in the back of my mind.
Class was with Dan, and he was very kind to us as we slowly worked out all our lumps and bumps. The tech was with Ayana and Jeremy’s cast and went very smoothly indeed. The crew here seem to be fab and with our great crew, they all make a very slick team.
The theatre is huge and very well kept. Georgina and I have a lovely dressing room together and had a chuckle over the fact that on every light switch and door handle it tells you, in a laminated sticker, just how many times a day it has and will be disinfected. Good to know!!!
Found a great place for a quick dinner after the tech and then to bed, still not quite on Hong Kong time.
I had a look round the Cultural Centre and the hype for the show is great; the shows are nearly 100% sold and we are headlining the festival out here so fingers crossed we can impress the Hong Kong audience. A good tech and a good first show, a couple of bumps in places, but nothing the audience would notice (I hope).
Pippa and David lead the Company and I must say I always watch the first time Wendy flys, it’s magical. I sneaked a look at the audience through a gap in the wing and the first row was nearly all little children, every one of their beautiful faces lit up with excitement. They really love this show wherever we take it in the world.
Our techie’s really are fab, as are the Hong Kong crew, it’s all going rather well and audience response was great especially when asked, “Do you believe in fairies?” Well I am glad to report the people of Hong Kong certainly do!
Saturday, double-show day.
15.30 and 19.30. Emergency rehearsal today for Ben as he is on today for Peter in place of Jeremy as he is really very unwell. (First time to China, it has happened to us all.) Jeremy’s Dad lives in Hong Kong so he is able to take care of him, which is just what you need when you are so far from home.
Get well soon Jez!
Ben did really well as did Ayana, who’s parents came over from Japan to see her dance.
David and Pippa again in the evening and another great and very smooth show, apparent from a rebellious young boy who shouted “NOOOOOOOO!” to the famous do you believe question – much to the audience’s hilarity. David handled it very well and Tinkerbell made a full recovery!
After the show straight back to the hotel for a movie and then bed. Boring but needed, mind you today I felt myself again, definitely fully on Hong Kong time now!
Sunday, double duty again!
11.30 and 15.30 shows this time. Wow, did it feel early to be in for class at 9.30. Oh well on with the show. The buzz of the audience was excellent all day and well worth the early morning wake up call.
This is mainly a festival for families and outside the theatre there have been mini-shows by local children on an open air stage, so passers-by can grab a seat and be entertained in the Hong Kong heat.
In between the shows and from my window near the dressing rooms I have seen some Chinese opera, ballroom and Latin American dancing kids, sing-a-long sessions with a very enthusiastic young Asian man and also a homage to Michael Jackson and some bizarre hip hop. All very good fun and totally entertaining from my air conditioned viewing gallery!
After the shows were done I got to catch up with my cousin who lives and works in Hong Kong and we took in the sights from the peak! This is where you get a fantastic view over Hong Kong Island and you can shop yet more in the centre perched on the top of this huge peak. We had a lovely dinner and a slightly uncomfortable journey back down the twisty alp-like road to the bottom.
The star ferry back to TST and then very much time for bed. Packing in the morning and then off to Macau for us all!
WebNewsWire have posted a release about the opening of the Hong Kong International Arts Carnival, an arts festival which features over 370 events for family enjoyment.
Northern Ballet Theatre helped open the festival with a performance of Peter Pan in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre in front of a full house. There are four more performances over the weekend before the Company decamp to Macau.
Its day two of the Learning project with the British Council and the Providence Centre of Rehab in Hong Kong.
This morning we examined the structure of a “workshop”, from warm up to exploration of movement, development of ideas through to the conclusion. Activities focused on how to vary speed levels and the use of canon and unison to develop simple movements into a short sequence. Care workers and dance artists used gestures to represent physical movement, and working in pairs, developed a short sequence of movement.
When the members of the centre joined the group this afternoon, Caroline and Dylan led the same activities as in the morning, to show how the theory of what they learnt in the morning was applied in the context of an actual session. This gave the centre members an opportunity to make decisions and create a movement sequence of their choosing, allowing them to explore their own creativity.
The dance artists and care workers also worked together in groups to plan an activity for tomorrow’s session, where they will deliver parts of a workshop with the member with learning difficulties, putting into practice what they have been learning over the last two days.
Things are progressing well with preparations for the opening tonight with 97% of seats for our performances booked, which is amazing!
It is incredibly humid in Hong Kong but we are enjoying our time here. Tomorrow we start a busy schedule: a dress rehearsal followed by the official opening of the Festival, followed by our opening performance. We then have 2 shows on Saturday and 2 on Sunday so not much free time. We also have an event for our sponsors, Marketing Leeds, on Saturday night.
The Technical Rehearsal went extremely well this afternoon with the production looking the best it ever has. The large stage and auditorium lend themselves perfectly to the scale of the production. This evening we have an event to mark the official opening of the festival. David, Daniel, Steve and I will be attending with some of the dancers. It remains hot and humid with threatening skies but so far no rain!
Mark Skipper, Chief Executive – Northern Ballet Theatre
Here are a few pictures they’ve sent back of the stage as they prepare for the performance alongside images from the Peter Pan’s Land of Dreams exhibition which is also a part of the carnival…
Some pictures from the happy couple’s day…
The Learning and Access team are currently in Hong Kong, delivering a three-day dance project for the British Council, in partnership with the Providence Centre for Rehab. The project incorporates local dance artists, care workers and members of the rehabilitation centre with learning difficulties, to explore the benefits of dance and movement for the learning disabled. It will develop the skills and confidence of the dance artists and care workers, enabling them to plan and deliver creative movement sessions within their communities.
Having arrived in Hong Kong after a long flight, we met with the British Council and the staff at the Providence Centre for Rehabilitation to discuss the aims of the project and to find out what experience of dance and movement the care workers and members of the rehabilitation had. Having had little or no experience of dance, the care workers would benefit from learning how to structure a movement session and develop activities to meet the aims of their sessions.
Today was our first workshop day, and we spent the morning with the care workers from the centre and the local dance artists, introducing them to creative ideas to use in a workshop session. We looked at games and activities to use in a warm up, trying out a number of different activities so that they could experience how they can be used to meet the engage a variety of participants. Looking particularly at the use of props, they explored how using props can make movement less intimidating, can encourage social interaction and can develop individual movements.
Then this afternoon, the group was joined by members of the rehab centre, all of whom have learning difficulties, to put into practice some of the activities from the morning session. By having experienced the activities for themselves, the care workers and dance artists were able to understand the purpose of each activity and the benefits for the participants with learning difficulties.
It was a very energetic day, with participants coming to the workshop with a variety of different skills and experiences, so it was great to see everyone getting involved and working together to create a really positive workshop environment.
Photos, filming and blog: Jo Dean, Learning & Access Project Manager
Our friends at Dance UK and English National Ballet will be Dancing on Parliament tomorrow, Thursday 8 July between 12noon and 2pm. If you’re in London and can join them please go along and show your support. Please also contact your MP and ask them if they are going. Ask them to do something brilliant with their lunch break tomorrow. You can do this through www.dancevote2010.com.
The T-Mobile Big Dance Bus will be travelling across London during Big Dance week and is making a one off stop at the prestigious and stunning Horse Guards Parade, in between Parliament Square and the edge of St James Park. Dance UK has been working in partnership with English National Ballet and City of Westminster Council to produce a diverse showcase of local and national talent for this event.
Let’s show MPs from across the country the thriving dance the UK has to offer and all its successes.
The T-Mobile Big Dance Bus has a ‘pop up’ mobile dance floor and on board this double-decker bus you’ll find an interactive space to learn more about the UK dance sector. For more information on Big Dance Bus activities, visit www.bigdance2010.com.
Historically, the topping out ceremony marks the topmost beam being placed in the building to complete the structure. Its origins harp back to pagan times where the purpose of the ceremony was to appease tree-dwelling spirits and bring good luck by placing a yew tree branch in the uppermost part of the building.
To mark the occasion Wates Construction presented NBT and Phoenix Dance Theatre with a miniature ewe tree, some ears of wheat and a bottle of oil, which are all symbols of prosperity, happiness and good fortune for the people who use the building.
The Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Patrick Davey was joined by representatives from Leeds City Council, Wates Construction, NBT and Phoenix, dancers from both companies along with two NBT Academy students as well as key stakeholders and partners in the city. Cllr Davey was invited to bury a memory stick containing electronic memorabilia from both dance companies underneath one of the dance studio floors.
NBT’s Chief Executive, Mark Skipper, has been named as a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire. Dr Ingrid Roscoe, Lord-Lieutenant for West Yorkshire appointed Mark for his contribution to the county in a voluntary capacity.
The Lord-Lieutenant may appoint a Deputy Lieutenant with the Queen’s approval to assist her when appropriate. Mark joins a distinguished list of Deputy Lord Lieutenants, all receiving approval by the Queen for their appointment.
Mark says, “It’s a great honour to have been selected to represent the county in this way. I look forward to carrying out the role to the best of my ability. It is a great achievement that someone from the world of arts is carrying out this important function.”
As the sovereign’s representative in the county, the Lieutenant is required to meet and attend the monarch and members of the royal family on visits to the county and to fulfil a range of ceremonial functions on behalf of the Crown, such as the inspection of troops, attendance at church services, the presentation of honours, awards and medals, and the presidency of non-political and charitable organisations.
Mark has been Chief Executive of NBT for more than 10 years. He is a prominent member of the national dance community and during his time with NBT the company has been catapulted to the top ranks of dance in the UK, winning many awards and accolades for its productions and partnerships. Mark has spearheaded NBT’s campaign for a new purpose-built headquarters in central Leeds. This long-held ambition will be realised this autumn when NBT moves into the largest purpose-built space for dance outside London.
As the Company prepare for their tour to Hong Kong and Macau over the next few weeks, preparations are also underway in the Learning & Access Department as they too will be making their way to Hong Kong to deliver a dance project for the British Council.
Working with local dance artists, carers and social workers and adults with learning disabilities, the project will explore the benefits of dance and movement for the learning disabled, and will develop the skills of the dance artists, enabling them to deliver integrated dance projects within their communities.
Dance Education Officer Caroline Burn and Project Manager Jo Dean will be joined by musician Bill Laurance and dance artist Dylan Quinn to deliver the four-day project at the Providence Garden for Rehab centre in the north of Hong Kong. Jo will be sending us updates throughout the project.
With just a couple of days to go before we set off for Heathrow, Caroline and Dylan have been doing the final planning for the project, coming up with ideas and activities to do with the group and creating a resource pack for the dance artists to support their learning. While the main focus of the project will be equipping the dance artists with the skills required to lead integrated dance projects, we will also be introducing the social workers to the benefits of movement in increasing confidence, body awareness and control and communication skills, and giving the participants the opportunity to express themselves through movement.
Check back here next week to find out how the project is going.
Both Helen and Lauren are just about to finish their second year at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. To be selected to tour with the main company is a great achievement and we wish them the very best of luck.
Hopefully we will be able to update you on how they got along next year.
Last Thursday Northern Ballet Theatre hosted a special event at City Inn, Manchester, to introduce group organisers to the wonderful world of The Nutcracker. Guests were given a greater insight to the production with a talk from the man behind the ballet, NBT Artistic Director, David Nixon OBE. They were then treated to the Chinese Dance and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy performed live by NBT dancers – a fantastic opportunity to enjoy these dances in an intimate setting.
Amidst the wine and fabulous canapés (the mini fish and chips went down a particular treat!) guests were able to see the Company’s new brand in all it’s glory – including previews of all of autumn’s new posters.
Whilst the group organisers booked their outing to The Palace Theatre this November to see the full production of The Nutcracker, one guest, budding ballerina Hannah (pictured below with dancers Ben Mitchell, Thomas Aragones and Julie Charlet) was delighted to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy.
NBT Board members continue to receive recognition for their achievements. Congratulations this week go to Victoria Tomlinson, founder and owner of Harrogate-based PR consultancy Northern Lights, who has been listed as one of Yorkshire’s top 100 entrepreneurs.
Victoria spent ten years in manufacturing and was a director at Ernst & Young before moving north and starting Northern Lights. The PR consultancy focuses on achieving measurable results for its clients, consistently wins national and regional awards and is frequently named in the top ten of Yorkshire agencies. Victoria was recognised by the CBI as a finalist in their business adviser of the year and represents the CBI on a number of government and education consultation panels. She also sits on the boards of Bradford University School of Management, a top ten UK business school; and Common Purpose North Yorkshire. She is a Prince’s Trust mentor and helps young people with careers advice.
Victoria was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors for NBT earlier this year. On joining the NBT Board she said, “I am really interested in NBT’s outreach work and inspiring people from a wide range of backgrounds. There is also the challenge of positioning the ballet company in the London market and I hope I can bring ideas and contacts to help with this.”
Pupils from Thorn Park School for the Deaf in Bradford have produced a video reporting on their experiences of learning ballet for Headliners, a UK charity which encourages personal development through journalism. The students were taught by Northern Ballet Theatre‘s Dance Education Officer, Caroline Burn and Learning & Access Musician, Dave Burnett.
Headliners is a UK charity which encourages personal development of young people through journalism.
Original article on Headliners: Ballet a Hit With Deaf Young People
Over the last couple of weeks Sophie Alder (Dance Education Officer) has been visiting Shepherds Lane Children’s Centre in Leeds working with the pupils to explore the tale of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ through music and dance.
To track down the elusive bear the children used play-dough to represent mud, strips of ribbon for a snow-storm, plenty of water to splash about in and they ventured outside in the final week to roam amongst the trees and bushes. Following the story with Sophie the little ones were able to enhance their coordination skills, sense of rhythm, and aptitude for movement whilst also developing their imaginations.
In Northern Ballet Theatre’s new building, due to open in January 2011, the Learning & Access team are hoping to work more with under 5s in weekly classes and occasional workshops. If you are interested in NBT’s work with children’s centres in Leeds or getting involved in similar projects, please contact Philippa Plumtree-Varley (Learning & Access Coordinator) on 0113 274 5355.
We’re delighted that Veronica Wadley a member of Northern Ballet Theatre’s Board of Directors has been appointed as the next London Chair of Arts Council England. The appointment has been approved by Jeremy Hunt the new Secretary of State for culture, Olympics, media and sport and has been endorsed by leading figures such as Nick Hytner, Director of the National Theatre, Nick Kent, Director of the Tricycle Theatre and Julia Peyton-Jones, Director of the Serpentine Gallery.
NBT’s Chief Executive Mark Skipper said:
“Veronica joined NBT’s Board in the autumn of 2009 and has already made a huge contribution through her enthusiasm and passion for the arts and for Northern Ballet Theatre. We would like to offer her our congratulations on her new position.”
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:
“Veronica Wadley is a hugely accomplished woman who has a proven passion for London and its unrivalled arts and culture. She will bring energy, drive and ambition to this vital sector that does so much for our quality of life in London and the capital’s reputation around the world. I am delighted that she has agreed to accept the challenge.”