Dancers head to the Castle for a Knight at the Theatre

September 25, 2008 at 10:14 am (Artist's News) (, , , , , , )

Northern Ballet Theatre dancers Lori Gilchrist and Tobias Batley - A Tale of Two Cities ballet - Photograph by Tracey Foster

NBT dancers Tobias Batley and Lori Gilchrist visited Nottingham Castle on Wednesday 17 September to pay homage to Dame Laura Knight whose exhibition Laura Knight at the Theatre is on display there until 28 September.

The exhibition includes a major body of works by the leading British Impressionist, some of which have rarely, if ever, been exhibited before. Knight, who was born in Long Eaton and grew-up in Nottingham, had a long love affair with the theatre and it is this passion that is conveyed through the striking works in the exhibition.

The Company is currently performing A Tale of Two Cities at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham.

NBT Dancers at Nottingham Castle - Photograph by Tracey Foster

Photograph by Tracey Foster

Photograph by Tracey Foster

Photograph by Tracey Foster

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Russian dance for new museum

September 19, 2008 at 11:57 am (Artist's News, Marketing and PR News) (, , , , , )

Photograph by Brian Slater

NBT Dancers John Hull, David Ward, Thomas Aragones, Sebastian Loe and Ben Mitchell performed the Chinese and Russian dances from The Nutcracker in Leeds’ City Square to help celebrate the opening of the new City Museum. The museum will feature a costume from NBT’s A Sleeping Beauty Tale and the chance to discover dancer Lori Gilchrist’s dance journey.

NBT will visit Leeds Grand Theatre with performances of The Nutcracker from 17-31 December 2008.

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Learning & Access in Beijing

September 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm (Company News, General Information, Learning & Access) (, , )

Jo Dean reports again from Bejing where the Learning & Access Department are working as part of the British Council’s Young Advocate Progamme – developing the Paralympic Spirit.

The week seems to be rushing by with everyday packed full of activities, and we have just one day of workshops left before the showcase tomorrow. Tuesday was our second day of workshops, and the group continued developing the sequences they had created on Monday.  They also started creating more choreography based on the shapes and patterns found in flags from around the world.  The group is working really well together and the young advocates have come up with some fantastic ideas for their pieces, moments of which have been really moving.  A British party in the evening, complete with fish and chips, showcased the musical talents of some of the young advocates on the programme and got everyone up and dancing in a ceilidh. 


Yesterday was our rest day, but it seemed to be as busy as ever!  We started with a trip to the Great Wall, which was a lot steeper when walking up it than it looks from the bottom!  Following that we saw the China Disabled People’s Performing Arts Troupe at the Poly Theatre which impressed everyone, before returning to the Bird’s Nest stadium to watch some of the athletics events of the paralympics.

 Today the group is feeling the strain of the busy schedule but are really starting to refine their movement and polish their pieces.  The performance yesterday seemed to inspire them and the professionalism and precision of movement that they saw in the Troupe is being brought into the rehearsal today.  This afternoon we will be bringing together all of their work and structuring the piece for the showcase, before a shopping trip to Beijing to finish the day. 

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NBT help celebrate the opening of Leeds Museum

September 10, 2008 at 8:33 am (Company News, Events, General Information) (, , , , )

 Brian Slater

Saturday 13 September, 11am
Opening of Leeds City Museum
Millennium Square, Leeds The new Leeds City Museum throws open its doors to the public this weekend and dancers from Northern Ballet Theatre will make a special appearance to start the celebrations in spectacular style. Five of our male dancers will perform the Chinese and Russian dances from The Nutcracker at 11am on an open-air stage in Millennium Square. A range of dance groups from Leeds will then perform throughout the weekend. The performances and the museum are free so why not come down and check it out.

The new Leeds City Museum throws open its doors to the public this weekend and dancers from Northern Ballet Theatre will make a special appearance to start the celebrations in spectacular style. Five of our male dancers will perform the Chinese and Russian dances from The Nutcracker at 11am on an open-air stage in Millennium Square. A range of dance groups from Leeds will then perform throughout the weekend. The performances and the museum are free so why not come down and check it out.

Read more about the opening of the Museum at:

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Gaining momentum

September 9, 2008 at 10:38 am (Company News, Events, Fundraising) (, , , , )

Over 100 guests including the Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Frank Robinson enjoyed an evening with Northern Ballet Theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse at an event to support our momentum campaign. Our guests attended a pre-performance reception where we had the opportunity to tell them all about the project and give the first showing of our new animated film of the building.

NBT’s Artistic Director David Nixon, Chief Executive Mark Skipper and NBT Board member, Denise Jagger spoke about the importance of the new building to the Company, asking individuals and the business community to support a bright future for dance and give to the campaign

Paul Harness

Our guests then enjoyed a performance of A Tale of Two Cities, NBT’s new full-length ballet based on Dickens’ classic novel, created by guest choreographer and ex-Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House, Cathy Marston. 

During the interval NBT’s Classical Training students gave short demonstrations of their work which will be greatly enhanced by our purpose-built facilties. It is our aim to eventually run a full-time classical dance school from the new building giving talented young people from across Yorkshire the opportunity to pursue their dancing ambitions without having to leave home.

Paul Harness

“The changes and developments taking place in Leeds are breathtaking and the physical investment in the cultural life of the city, for example at the Grand Theatre and Leeds Museum, is clear to see. Our new building for dance is a part of that and as such it will be a source of pride, a symbol of a brave and confident city whose people and business leaders make great things happen and dreams come true.” Mark Skipper, NBT Chief Executive

Help us make that dream a reality, give now to momentum.


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Learning & Access in Bejing

September 8, 2008 at 11:56 am (General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , , , , )

Following the success of their visit in December, the Learning & Access department have returned to Beijing as part of the British Council’s Young Advocates Programme – developing the Paralympic Spirit.  Organised by the British Council and the China Disabled Person’s Federation, the week long forum involves 240 disabled and able-bodied young people, aged 18 – 25 from China, Great Britain and across the globe taking part in activities to ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­empower them to be leaders in their communities and develop the Paralympic Spirit.

Dance Education Officers Sophie Alder and Caroline Burn, along with musician Bill Laurance will be leading dance workshops with a group of 30 young people with a range of experience and abilities, with the aim of increasing their confidence, communication and leadership skills, and creating a dance piece to be performed in a showcase at the end of the forum.

Learning & Access Co-ordinator, Jo Dean, will be sending us updates throughout the week.

Arriving in Beijing on Saturday after a long flight, we just had time to drop off our bags before we were ushered straight into the main hall to meet the young people and listen to their aims for the forum.  The afternoon was spent familiarising ourselves with the space we will be working in, which is an amazing hall, complete with a grand piano and selection of instrumentsfor Bill!

After an early dinner, everyone on the project was taken to the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.  The stadium is an incredible structure and the atmosphere inside was fantastic, particularly when the Chinese athletes were introduced! The ceremony involved some spectacular dances with many thousands of dancers, as well as music, aerial acrobats and fireworks, and much flag waving by the crowd. The President of China having officially opened the Games and the flame having been lit, we were struggling with jet lag and were very happy to get into our beds.

Today (Sunday) was the first day of workshops, so we finally got to meet the group we will be working with.  After introductions and the warm up, the participants were straight into learning a short sequence which they then, working in small groups, adapted and developed into a short piece.  Numerous photographers and members of the press have been in and out of the workshop today, all eager to see what the group is doing and find out how the able-bodied and disabled people are able work together in dance.  At the end of the workshops today there will be a party for all the young advocates, so it will be a chance for us to find out what everyone else has been doing in their first day of workshops.





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A Tale of Two Cities – Teacher’s Resource Pack

September 4, 2008 at 1:50 pm (Learning & Access) (, , , , , , , )

Teacher's Resource Packs

There is a new Teacher’s Resource Pack in the Learning & Access section of our website.

Click here to find out more

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New momentum videos

September 4, 2008 at 11:18 am (Company News, Friends News, Fundraising) (, , , , , , , , )

Building Momentum website

There are two new videos from the architects on the momentum website, for a sneaky preview of what the new studios, performance spaces and other facilities will look like.

Watch the videos and find out how you can help us jump the last hurdle…

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A Tale of Two Cities

September 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm (General Information, Marketing and PR News, Tour News) (, , , , , , , , , )

Here are some production images from A Tale of Two Cities. All photos are by Alastair Muir.

Keiko Amemori as Lucie and Tobias Batley as Charles 

Hironao Takahashi as Dr Manette and Keiko Amemori as Lucie

Kenneth Tindall as Charles and Keiko Amemori as Lucie

Tobias Batley as Charles and Victoria Sibson as Madam Defarge 

Kenneth Tindall as Sydney and Martha Leebolt as the girl at the docks

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A Tale of Two Cities – CASTS

September 1, 2008 at 3:46 pm (Artist's News, Casts) (, , , , , , )

A Tale of Two Cities continues at the West Yorkshire Playhouse…

This weeks provisional castings:


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
Michael Berkin
MARQUIS – Steven Wheeler
David Ward
Thomas Aragones
YOUNG CHARLES – Ben Mitchell


LUCIE – Georgina May
MdM DEFARGE – Martha Leebolt
THERESE – Pippa Moore
PROSS – Amy Johnson
VENGENCE – Victoria Sibson
AGNES – Keiko Amemori

CHARLES – John Hull
SYDNEY – David Ward
MANETTE – Darren Goldsmith
LORRY – Michael Berkin
GABELLE – Hironao Takahashi
MARQUIS – Steven Wheeler
YOUNG MANETTE – Ben Mitchell

DENIS – Giuliano Contadini
YOUNG CHARLES – Ashley Dixon 

Monday 1 September – 19:30 – CAST B  

Tuesday 2 September – 19:30 – CAST A 

Wednesday 3 September – 19:30 – CAST B

Thursday 4 September – 14:00 – CAST A 

Thursday 4 September – 19:30 – CAST B

Friday 5 September – 19:30 – CAST A

Saturday 6 September – 14:00 – CAST B

Saturday 6 September – 19:30 – CAST A

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Hannah’s diary part II

September 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , , )

Hi all. Well it is Sunday night and the excitement of first night is still in the air but the tiredness has set in big time! At the moment the thought of working tomorrow is hurting me and I would really like to sleep for a while, but then I remember that Monday night is another first night (for 2nd cast) and I get another burst of excitement!! The last two weeks have been a real build up experience and for so long our focus has been 30 August that when you get to that date being a page away in your diary you have a feeling of being propelled forward. The momentum begins to take force and you forget about fatigue and generally all manner of normal life and you get a complete tunnel vision for opening night, first night, the Première!  

We concentrated on details for the first half of the third rehearsal week with Dan guiding us through, then by Thursday Cathy was back with us after a check in on her dancers at Bern. We then ran the ballet twice on the Thursday. 2nd cast in the morning and 1st in the afternoon along with some major note sessions! Notes are mostly done after a run or rehearsal. Some choreographers shout notes out to you as you are dancing and others remain silent and give them at the end of the piece. Cathy watches very closely and so concentrated, and dictates notes to Dan and then they go back over them with us after. David is much more physical and calls them out to us as we are dancing and also remembers huge volumes of details to go over with us after the rehearsal. You always know where you stand with David as you can tell how the rehearsal is going by the way he is sitting. Every now and then he sits right back in his chair and simple enjoys watching his dancers. Cathy sits quietly and everyone gets on with their work and not till the end, until she speaks do get a sense of whether you have given her what she has asked for. I didn’t realise how used to David’s way we were, until Cathy came and at first I was really worried that she didn’t like what we were producing in the studio. This is just another example of the many different ways that choreographers like to work and proves that there is no one right way!

On the Friday of the third week we had a costume parade. With only a week to go until opening night, the whole of our wonderful wardrobe team had their fingers crossed. It is a trying time. If all the costumes fit then the wardrobe girls have an easy week but if they don’t they have only seven days to get it fixed and two of those days are days off, Sunday and the bank holiday. As everyone puts their costumes on, in order of appearance and stand with their partners or dancing groups you can hear the silent pleading of the wardrobe girls. ‘Please let the guys be able to lift their arms about their heads in those jackets’, ‘Please let the jackets do up across the chest and still allow the dancer to breath’, ‘Please don’t let there be an indecent exposure as that girl does a back bend in an over head lift’ and the classic ‘Please let that seam be strong enough in those trousers so we aren’t subjected to any, bright white checks’ !!! As it happens the complaints came in thick and fast and all the wardrobe ladies jotted down every needed alterations and of course achieved the impossible and come opening night everyone was in a costumes and nearly 100 % happy!!! Costumes are a funny thing. You know how good you feel, when you first slip on a brand new pair of shoes (well I do) a costume can do exactly that and it can really boost your confidence and performance. If you look the part, you feel the part. Our wardrobe team are great and really bend over backwards for all our funny requests, ‘please can I have really tight elastic on my pants around my left leg more than the right leg’ or ‘please can I have that style of dress cause I have broad shoulders and wide arm pits’, believe me I have heard these things being asked for. Lucky for me, Kim, Laura and Micky all know about my large head and always pick out the biggest hat for me or at least put a big chin elastic on!

On Friday afternoon we had all the little and young Lucie’s in and it was time to teach them their steps for the show, you have to be patience and calm but working with children  is very rewarding and to be around children and their energy and excitement for dancing is really special. The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol are great shows for that. 
By the end of Saturday we were ready for our rest days of Sunday and Monday and of course the weeks run up to 30 August.

Tuesday was a rehearsal day at West Park, it was busy, with rehearsals for A Tale of Two Cities, Miami, Milan and The Nutcracker. Wednesday was slow, a whole day and night in the theatre for light plotting. This is vital as lighting is so important. But it is a funny experience to be all made up and in costume and then just stand in different places on the stage as the production team organise different shades of light on you. It is a very quiet time, as the team are all sat at a desk in the middle of the auditorium discussing and we as dancers stand on the stage and occasionally move from spot to spot, scene to scene. It’s the first day in the theatre and you are eager to get going. We normally work out all our marks on the stage and where to put props and spacing, basically ground work to make the coming runs, go as smoothly as possible. By Thursday night we had run the ballet even if it was 2nd act first then 1st act and we had done it with the Orchestra for the first time too. Friday was 2nd casts go at a run in the afternoon and of course Friday night was the offical Dress rehearsal for our Friends. This is really exciting for us dancers. It’s the first time we get any feed back from the public, and a time when a lot of our questions are answered. Will the Friends find that bit funny, will they laugh ? Will they applaud after that section? Will they like it? Saturday afternoon was for Cathy to do last minute changes and after an excellent, enthusiastic class from our boss we felt ready for the Première.

The show went really well, of course there were a couple of hiccups but nothing major. Everyone had given their best and it was a great example of NBT team work. This show really relies on 100% commitment from every dancer and everyone back stage and it all came together. It feels like we can go even further with it and as we do more shows I am sure we will find new areas of the piece to explore. We are lucky as artists that we have that artistic freedom given to us by David to do this. I was yet again proud to be a dancer at NBT. But one of the best bits was seeing Mr Nixon really enjoy an opening night, the stress of the night belonged to Cathy! She seemed very pleased with the performance and I know she was proud. I hope NBT’s path and Cathy’s cross again, if only to see her another beautiful opening night outfit of hers!  Next week we meet Mark Godden for a piece for the upcoming triple bill, the excitement just keeps coming, 

Till next time, 
love Hannah xoxo

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A Tale of Two Cities Première at the WYP

September 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm (Company News, Events, Marketing and PR News, Tour News) (, , , , , , , , )

A Tale of Two Cities programme cover - Photography HANSON - Design Mick Schofield

Saturday the 30th of August saw NBT’s brand new production, Cathy Marston’s A Tale of Two Cities ballet, première at Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse. Photographs of the production should follow tomorrow, here are a few other photos of the event.

Photography - Mick Schofield

The West Yorkshire Playhouse

Photography - Mick Schofield

Photography - Mick Schofield

Photography - Mick Schofield

Speech: Artistic Director David Nixon thanks choreographer Cathy Marston

Photography - Mick Schofield

Judith Donovan CBE (from the Board of Directors) wishes NBT Chairman, Councillor Bernard Atha CBE, a happy 80th birthday!

Photography - Mick Schofield

…cutting the cake.

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