A Tale of Two Cities Première – Cast

August 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm (Artist's News, Casts, Tour News) (, , , , , , , , )

A Tale of Two Cities - A ballet by Cathy Marston. Poster design Mick Schofield. Photography HANSON

Northern Ballet Theatre’s latest production, A Tale of Two Cities
by Cathy Marston, premières this Saturday (30th August), at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.
The following cast list is for the Première night only and is provisional, Northern Ballet Theatre reserves the right to make alterations without notice.

LUCIE – Keiko Amemori
MdM DEFARGE – Victoria Sibson
THERESE – Michela Paolacci
PROSS – Ginnie Ray
VENGENCE – Martha Leebolt
AGNES – Pippa Moore

CHARLES – Tobias Batley
SYDNEY – Kenneth Tindall
MANETTE – Hironao Takahashi
LORRY – John Hull
DEFARGE – Darren Goldsmith
GABELLE – Michael Berkin
MARQUIS – Steven Wheeler
DENIS – Thomas Aragones
YOUNG CHARLES – Ben Mitchell

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A Tale of Two Cities update

August 18, 2008 at 9:45 pm (Artist's News, Company News) (, , , , , , , )

Cathy Marston with dancers of Northern Ballet Theatre

It really is a tale of two cities for Cathy Marston at the moment. Last week she was putting the finishing touches to A Tale of Two Cities with NBT in Leeds and this week she is back in Bern for the start of the new season with Bern Ballet, of which she is Artistic Director.

Hear an interview with Cathy as well as Principal Dancer Keiko Amemori and Soloist Kenneth Tindall, and watch exclusive rehearsal footage on the Yorkshire Post TV website: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/video/Sneak-preview-A-Tale-of.4397133.jp

Talking about the production in an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post Cathy says, “Purely from a dance point of view this love story offers plenty of opportunities for pas de deux. But even though it might not seem as obvious a choice to many people it makes a fantastic story to tell through any medium.” On working with NBT she says, “They’re an absolute delight to work with, not just in terms of ability but also because they don’t just wait for you to dictate steps to them they actually work with you making suggestions, developing the choreography and characters which is why the finished product is so special.”

Cathy will return to Leeds next week for the run-up to the world premiere of A Tale of Two Cities at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on Saturday 30 August. If you haven’t got your tickets yet, time is running out so book now.

To further whet your appetite here are some images of Cathy working with the Company. Photos by Merlin Hendy.

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Dancer Hannah Bateman keeps us updated on rehearsals.

August 18, 2008 at 8:55 am (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , )

Hannah Bateman - Junior SoloistAs the second week of our rehearsal period draws to a close I thought it was a good time to keep all you readers up to date! We weren’t quite sure how pushed for time we would feel for this ballet (A Tale of Two Cities). On paper it looked like we had plenty of time, two weeks in January and four weeks at the end of the last season in June and four weeks (just) after the summer break until opening on 30th of August. But Cathy’s work is a very different style to David’s and you never know how quickly you can adapt and give the choreographer what she needs, until you get in the studio.


We were all very excited about the prospect of this new ballet and keen to get into it. Cathy managed to get a lot of work done in January mainly focusing on the pas de deux and a few pieces in the corp. This gave us a head start for when we came back to it at the end of last season. Daniel (our ballet master) kept us in check as we revisited these bits of work whilst touring Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo & Juliet, before Cathy’s return in June.


In the four weeks before our summer break we managed to finish the ballet and left for the holidays with a couple of full runs under our belts. The first week back was a teaching week where we all helped to pass on our knowledge of the piece to our second and third casts. Due to injuries we have two main casts not the normal three and then a lot of ‘just in case’ or understudies. We completed another run today of first cast and it is starting to feel real. It sometimes takes a little while to build up a cohesive feel in the corp and because of the style of this piece it has taken time to get on top of the steps and the counts! But today felt like a real step forward. It feels good to be at the point of run through, we now have had time to clean it and we can concentrate on ironing out the few remaining creases. We have section of the ballet that we have nicknamed Shidoko! It is a real test for the eight or so corp dancers that have to dance it as it relies heavily on counts and counting, counting, counting! I am not involved in this section but every time I watch it I am amazed at my colleagues. There is beautiful umbrellas pas de deux to look out for which is complete contrast to the pas de deux that follows that is incredible powerful and transports me to another place every time I watch it. I have to admit it brings tear to my eye. But I am quite good at getting carried away with how powerful dance can be!


Today was also the first rehearsal for our trip to Milan! Well actually it was Jon and Julie’s first rehearsal for the pas de deux from The Nutcracker, which they will showcase in Milan. They were both superb. I think it is a real testament to David (Nixon, Artistic Director) and Yoko (Ichino, Ballet Mistress) that two corp de ballet members (all be it extremely talented ones) can run from start to finish the full Nutcracker pas de deux and look as great as they did today. They haven’t danced it since December last year and they remembered every count and were very technically accurate. I love that I work with a group a people that constantly impress me; I feel truly privileged at times.


We are also very excited (if not a little jealous) that Kenny (Tindall) and Keiko (Amemori) will be representing NBT at the International Ballet Festival in Miami. This is a massive achievement for the company. It really feels like things are on the up for NBT, and as we look ahead to Christmas and all the work we have to get are teeth into, it’s a great foundation to build on for our 40th anniversary year in 2009.


It’s our last week in the studio next week. There are a couple more run throughs to finish off this week, and this will really make a Sunday off feel deserved. The lighting designer is in today, so fingers crossed we do Cathy proud.


Next week the costumes arrive and the excitement really begins to build as we pack up our skips (our personal belongings) and set our sights on the West Yorkshire Playhouse. You always get a real kick of adrenalin the first time you see the set and that just builds and builds especially when we get to hear the orchestra for the first time.


All my digs are booked for the season and I feel ready and organised just have to think about “Chukkas” and of course all of those steps. For those of you not in the know “Chukkas” is NBT’s way for saying good luck. We all exchange cards and gifts on opening night (think mini Christmas) and before the curtain goes up we run round wishing everyone “Chukkas” for their first show. When ever we première a new ballet we do this and even mid season if someone premières a new role everyone remembers to get them a “chukkas” gift and wish them “chukkas”. There will be a couple of individual premières to look out for this season as well as the whole Company’s première in A Tale of Two Cities. We normally give themed gifts and I have to say I am finding this ballet a bit difficult to buy for; it doesn’t seem right to give someone a good luck guillotine! Maybe wine will suffice seen as it’s set partly in France (any excuse!).


Well I will draw to a close now. I hope to see some of you at the ‘dancing with Cathy’ event next week and of course, all of you at A Tale of Two Cities. Seriously, your support is invaluable and we as dancers are nothing without an audience to perform to, so thank you in advance, I am sure you will really enjoy this ballet and just a hint, bring a tissue!


Till next week,


Love Hannah.










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New Open Classes

August 13, 2008 at 3:41 pm (Classical Training, General Information, Marketing and PR News, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) (, , , , , , , , , )

Open Classes

At Northern Ballet Theatre, all instruction is based on healthy physical principles. Our Open Classes allow students to train with leading professionals in a relaxed and friendly environment. Ballet is a great way to keep fit regardless of age. It improves alignment and helps posture.

Weekly classes as follows:

NEW for 2008 – Intro to Ballet
Thursday 17:30-18:30
Introductory classes for children aged 8-10

NEW for 2008 – Adult Beginners Ballet
Thursday 18:45-20:00
No experience required. 18+

Intermediate Ballet
Monday 19:00-20:30
Intermediate Foundation Standard and Above

Men’s Class
Wednesday 17:30-19:15
Intermediate Foundation Standard and Above

All classes are held at Northern Ballet Theatre’s Studios
at the West Park Centre on Spen Lane in Leeds.

For more information on these classes visit our website
or contact the Classical Training Dept.

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Interview with David Maric

August 11, 2008 at 3:05 pm (Artist's News) (, , , , , , , , )

Photography - Clare Park, HANSON. Design - Mick Schofield

Composer and pianist David Maric has created a full evening orchestral score for Northern Ballet Theatre’s (NBT) forthcoming production of A Tale of Two Cities. Here he talks to us about composing for ballet.


You were keen for some time to compose for dance. Why?


From about the age of 22 I became rather obsessed with the works of Igor Stravinsky. Through picking up various books about his life and work, I began to encounter images taken from various staged works of his that were created within the first seven decades of the 20th century and included set designs, dancers, costume designs etc. This excited me and I longed to see these productions live.


Finally in 1999 I watched my first ballet which was The Rite of Spring; ENO’s production of the Kenneth MacMillan version. Naturally it blew my head off. I loved the choreography, costume and lighting. Adored the orchestra’s ridiculously intense enthusiasm for the score. A year later I saw a triple bill of Firebird, Agon, and Les Noces all in their original forms and all with brilliantly performed live music. This left me utterly astonished and inspired; particularly the work of Nijinska and Balanchine. In between I witnessed Michael Clark’s company performing to loud distorted rock musicians, which turned me on so much I had to go again the following night.


All this took place before Cathy Marston had by chance found a piece of music of mine which inspired her to choreograph a duet to, and since then we’ve collaborated on a number of far more ambitious projects. Also since then I’ve spent far too much money on tickets for various dance events and have found myself in recent years much more deeply acquainted with this intriguing art form that inspires me and fills me with a desire to contribute something towards a resurrection of original music with dance that attempts to somehow aspire to the monumentally high standards that were set almost a century ago now.


What are the main challenges working on a ballet such as A Tale of Two Cities?


Apart from the usual challenge of coming up with interesting material when writing any music, an additional challenge when writing a 90 minute orchestral narrative ballet score is to ensure that a sense of flow and the impression of a coherent whole is maintained through such a fragmented and episodic structure (a structure which A Tale of Two Cities certainly has).


Whilst it may help maintain the audience’s attention by having shorter “movements” I felt that the weight of Dickens’ epic novel should also be captured  – especially its deeply moving sacrificial ending, but without ever over-doing the potentially heavy and portentous mood that long winded and lugubrious approaches would evoke.


The rich tapestry of the novel has been concisely captured within the scenario, and the structure of the music is essentially dictated by it. The novel also has a number of features that help to inspire musical ideas. One is the persistent theme of duality, which often manifests itself in the novel as contrasting imagery (and in the score is symbolized in a number of different ways). Another feature is the late 18th century period itself, which is referred to stylistically within the classical and folk idioms. The famous “Carmagnole” revolution song mentioned in the novel appears in the score on many occasions in various forms and its slightly unorthodox structure helps to underpin and inform many scenes. So the real challenge is to contend with all this information whilst simultaneously creating evocative and “danceable” music, and it is one that I immensely enjoyed tackling.

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NBT students are excellent!

August 5, 2008 at 11:14 am (Classical Training, Events, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) (, , , , , , , )

Photograph by Simon Richardson

Seven of NBT’s students performed at excellent! at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London on Tuesday 15 July. excellent! was a celebration of the achievements of this country’s most talented young dancers and musicians. NBT’s students performed a piece by choreographer Sharon Watson, alongside seven students from the Northern School for Contemporary Dance (NSCD), to music composed by the Yorkshire Young Musicians (YYM).

The students spent three days in London and stayed at The Tring Arts Educational School. On the day before the performance the students rehearsed with the NSCD students and YYM at Sadler’s Wells to make sure they were ready for their big performance the following day. The excellent! performance was a fantastic success and the students met other young and talented dancers and musicians from across the country. All the students did the Company proud, well done everyone!

Joshua Ockerby who is in the third year of NBT’s Professional Training Division said, “It was amazing to perform on stage at one of the most famous dance venues in the world, I enjoyed every minute of it and hope I get to do it again soon! “

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