Charlotte Talbot Interview

April 30, 2009 at 9:53 am (Artist's News, Company News, Interviews) (, , , , , , )

Jonathan Ollivier and Charlottle Talbot in Wuthering Heights (Photo: HANSON)

Jonathan Ollivier and Charlottle Talbot in Wuthering Heights (Photo: HANSON)

How are you finding working with the Company?

This has been such a fantastic new experience, and such an insight into working on the other side as ballet staff and not as a dancer. I think when you’re a dancer you don’t really appreciate how hard it is and the preparation ballet staff have to put in before rehearsals even start. As a member of the ballet staff team you have to be able to work with all departments, not just the dancers but stage management and all the admin staff, so that’s a new challenge in itself.

I have found the whole experience hugely enjoyable. It’s true to say that just because you were a good dancer it doesn’t mean you will be a good teacher, but thanks to David I’ve been given this fantastic opportunity to try my best and I hope I’ve done a good job.

What are you enjoying most?

Working with the dancers has been amazing; they are such a fantastic bunch of people. They are so open and receptive and willing to try new things and to listen. The consistently give 100% to everything they do, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of dancers to work with.

What are you finding the most challenging?

Time has been a struggle, especially because two other ballets were being rehearsed at the same time. It is also 4/5 years since this ballet was last staged so it’s a long time and it’s new to almost everyone in the Company so it’s been very challenging for everyone, but there’s been such a team effort. Lots of people have come together with lots of different skills. People have been so welcoming to me and very generous in helping me find my feet.

Was dancing Cathy one of your favourite roles? What challenges does she present as a character?

Dancing Cathy was my favourite role. The chance to create a new role with any choreographer is so special, it really is the highlight of a dancers career, very few top dancers even get the chance to create a new role. In some ways I could sympathise with the struggles in Cathy’s character and bring some of my own characteristics to the role.

Apart from dancing Cathy I really enjoyed dancing Juliet. Both were such emotional roles, by the end of each performance I was not just physically but emotionally drained. Particularly for the role of Cathy, it takes a lot of stamina to dance the role. Capturing the emotion is what I really loved as a dancer. I also really enjoyed being able to try something different at each performance, which was always an exciting challenge.

How are the dancers coming along with the ballet?

The dancers have been truly fantastic, they have come along so well and really embraced the ballet. There have been struggles with injuries, but that is the nature of ballet I suppose. Juggling rehearsal schedules can also be quite a challenge. The dancers really have all been fabulous. Their flexibility in dancing different roles and adapting to changes is unbelievable and a credit to their professionalism and experience as artists. All the Heathcliffs and Cathys have a different approach to the role, working with those different personalities has been really interesting to see.

Do you miss dancing with the Company?

I do miss dancing with NBT but I felt very satisfied with what I had achieved in my career and so I’ve never really had the urge to go back to dancing. I think that in order to be a good teacher you have to be happy with what you achieved yourself as a dancer otherwise you are not in the best position to help others achieve their best.

What have you been doing since leaving NBT?

Being a mum to my beautiful 3 year old daughter Lilly, that has kept me very busy!

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40th Anniversary Brochure

April 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm (40th Anniversary, Fundraising, General Information) (, , , , , )

NBT's 40th Anniversary Brochure, 40 Years in the Making

NBT's 40th Anniversary Book, 40 Years in the Making

We have produced a book to celebrate our 40th Anniversary.

This is a beautiful celebratory volume, 40 Years in the Making, which spans NBT’s 40 year history.

With contributions from HRH The Duke of York, David Nixon and many more this is an invaluable addition to the library of dance and theatre lovers everywhere.

It only costs £10 (+P&P).

Click here to order your copy…

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Wuthering Heights – Hull Casting

April 29, 2009 at 3:36 pm (Artist's News, Casts)

Click here for more information on the production.

Click here to book tickets for Wuthering Heights from Hull, New Theatre.

NB: All castings are subject to change without notice.

Wuthering Heights - Heathcliff & Cathy (Photo: HANSON)

Wuthering Heights - Heathcliff & Cathy (Photo: HANSON)

Wed 29 April

Evening (7:30pm)

 Thu 30 April

Matinée (2:30pm)

 Evening (7:30pm)

 Fri 1 May

Evening (7:30pm)

Sat 2 May

Matinée (2:20pm)

Evening (7:30pm)

NB: All castings are subject to change without notice.

Click here for more information on the production.

Click here to book tickets for Wuthering Heights from Hull, New Theatre.

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David Sumbler’s Weblog [2]

April 28, 2009 at 8:57 am (David Sumbler's Weblog, Music) (, , , , , , , , )

John Hull as Solor & Keiko Amemori as Nikiya in La Bayadére (Photo: Bill Cooper)

John Hull as Solor & Keiko Amemori as Nikiya in La Bayadére (Photo: Bill Cooper)

Last time I wrote we had not yet started the spring tour.  Now we have already done five weeks touring, performing the Mixed Programme and Swan Lake.

The Mixed Programme really was mixed for the orchestra.  One of the pieces, A Simple Man, was an old favourite for some of us who have been in the orchestra for a number of years – four of us actually took part in the first performances as well as the recent ones.  Copland‘s wonderful Appalachian Spring (the music for Angels in the Architecture) was new for us as an orchestra, although almost everyone knew it and had

Keiko Amemori in Angels in the Architecture (Photo: Bill Cooper)

Keiko Amemori in Angels in the Architecture (Photo: Bill Cooper)

played it before elsewhere.  La Bayadère, on the other hand, despite being the oldest of the three pieces by far, was known to hardly any of the orchestra members.  The style of the music, though, was immediately familiar to those of us who can recall performing NBT’s production of Don Quixote.  Both pieces were written by the 19th century Russian composer, Minkus.

Mention of A Simple Man reminds me of something that happened when the show was still fairly new, in the late 1980’s.  Princess Margaret was Patron of NBT at the time, and sometimes used to come to performances at the Theatre Royal in Bath.  She would stay with her friend Jeremy Fry, who lived at a nearby village – in a converted brewery!  Usually there would be a party at his place after one of the evening performances.

Workers - A Simple Man (Photo: Bill Cooper)

It was in the early stages of one of these parties, when many of the guests had still to arrive, that I noticed a lady standing on her own at the opposite end of the room from where most of us were gathered in a huddle.  Being a sociable sort of person I decided to go and talk to her.  She had her back to me as I approached so I did not immediately recognize who she was.  It was only after a few moments of conversation that I realized I was talking to Princess Margaret.  I asked her if she had enjoyed A Simple Man.  In true diplomatic fashion she did not give me an answer, but asked what my opinion was.  I told her that I thought that the music was very good, but that I had not yet been able to see what was happening on stage.  She suggested that this must make it difficult to play, since I would not know exactly what mood we were trying to convey when I have a solo.  (I thought this was extremely perceptive of her.)

The funny thing was that nobody else would come near us, probably doubtful whether it was right just to come up and talk to her, even at an informal party.  Equally, I hardly felt I could abandon her to go and talk to somebody else, so our conversation went on for a very long time, before I (or she) was rescued by her friend asking her to come and take her place in the kitchen for the meal.  Even then, she refused to go the first time she was asked, and he had to come back and ask her a second time!

Back to the present.  After five performances in Leeds of the Mixed Programme, we had Swan Lake to prepare.  This was a revival of a show that we last performed just a few years ago.  We had six hours rehearsal for the orchestra, followed by two dress rehearsals with the whole company.

Scene From Swan Lake (Photo: Bill Cooper)

This production of Swan Lake (the fourth that NBT has done in the years that I have been in the orchestra) is somewhat unusual, not just in some of the details of the scenario, but also in the selection of music.  All of the music is by Tchaikovsky, but as well as a lot of the original music for Swan Lake, we also include parts of his 3rd orchestral suite and one movement of the 5th symphony.  The latter starts with a massive horn solo.  When we did the show a few years ago our principal horn player was John Thornton, who always played the solo beautifully.  Soon after we had stopped touring Swan Lake John left to go to the Hallé Orchestra.  He spent a few years there, but recently decided that he would like to rejoin the NBT Orchestra – just in time, as it happens, for the revival of Swan Lake.

Swans - Swan Lake (Photo: Bill Cooper)In a symphony orchestra the principal horn would only have to play that solo for one performance, or possibly two or three concerts in a week.  Few could do it flawlessly seven or eight times a week, week after week, but John can manage it!  We really are very lucky to have him.

Musicians in ballet orchestras have mixed feelings about Swan Lake.  On the one hand, we all recognize that it is one of the finest ballet scores ever written, with probably the most brilliant musical ending of any.  The reason for the mixed feelings is that it is also just about the most exhausting piece to play of any – particularly the last few pages, where everybody is playing high and loud for ages.  This is doubly, or perhaps quadruply true for us, because we are such a small orchestra (only a couple of dozen of us).  Swan Lake ideally needs an orchestra three or four times as big.  But we are used to trying to make ourselves sound several times our true size: most people, even colleagues from other orchestras, who have heard the NBT orchestra without knowing its size are astonished when they find out how few of us there actually are.

Now we are about to revive Wuthering Heights, followed a couple of weeks later by Romeo & Juliet.  Next time I write, I’ll let you know a bit about how it is going from the orchestra’s point of view.

Juliet and Paris from Romeo & Juliet (Photo: Merlin Hendy)

Juliet and Paris from Romeo & Juliet (Photo: Merlin Hendy)

Juliet Wuthering Heights (Photo: HANSON)

Wuthering Heights (Photo: HANSON)

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Classical Training’s Residential At White Lodge

April 24, 2009 at 3:53 pm (Classical Training, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) (, )

White Lodge Residential Course

Tuesday 14th – Friday 17th April

Sophie Hall, Matthew Topliss and Megan Hughes on the steps of White Lodge

(Left to right) Sophie Hall, Matthew Valentine and Megan Hughes

Megan Hughes, Sophie Hall, Matt Topliss and Matthew Valentine recently attended a residential course for Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) students. Here is their account of the week . . .

Over the Easter holiday four Level 5 students from the Classical Training Professional Division attended a residential course at White Lodge. The residential was offered to students training at the Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) across the country. The course was designed to allow students to experience life at a vocational school whilst also giving us the opportunity to be taught be different teachers and to meet students training on similar courses at different places.

Megan Hughes and Matt Topliss taking part in a ballet class with other CAT students

Megan Hughes and Matt Topliss taking part in a ballet class with other CAT students

The course lasted four days and during this time we had lessons in Hip Hop, Ballet, Repertoire and Creative work. At the end of the course a presentation was put on for parents and teachers to demonstrate some of the skills we had been working on.

The ballet teacher who taught the NBT students was Antonio Castilla. He was a very inspirational tutor and also gave us great advice. We were taught some rep from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Jessica Clarke. This was very enjoyable and it was valuable to hear her advice as she has recently performed in this production herself.

Sophie Hall and Matthew Valentine in ballet class

Sophie Hall and Matthew Valentine in ballet class

It was good to meet other CAT students and find out about their training. As three out of the four NBT students will be moving away to vocational schools in September, it gave us a fantastic insight into what we might soon be experiencing.

Overall it was a really good experience and we have come away having gained some brilliant advice and some new friends. Hearing corrections from other teachers always helps to further instil them and we feel that we have really come away as better dancers.

(Left to right) Matthew Topliss, Matthew Valentine, Sophie Hall & Megan Hughes

(Left to right) Matthew Topliss, Matthew Valentine, Sophie Hall & Megan Hughes

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Ground Breaking Event Great Success

April 21, 2009 at 11:34 am (Company News, Events, Friends News, Fundraising, General Information, Marketing and PR News) (, , , , )

Yesterday’s ground breaking ceremony was a great success. Friends and Patrons of Northern Ballet Theatre, supporters of our building project as well as members of the Board, staff and dancers from NBT and Phoenix gathered together on Quarry Hill in central Leeds to witness the ground breaking ceremony.

As the sun shone down Andrew Carter, Leader of Leeds City Council got proceedings underway with the ceremonial shovel and both Andrew and Andy Carver, Executive Director of Arts Council England, Yorkshire, gave speeches celebrating the partnerships coming together to make one of the most important cultural developments for Leeds a reality. Dancers David Ward and Rym Kechacha dressed in costumes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream enjoyed clambouring all over the JCB digger – I think everyone wanted to have a go at driving it but common sense prevailed. Mark Skipper spoke on behalf of everyone at NBT when he thanked all our partners and supporters who have given so generously to make our dream a reality. It does mean so much to us. You can add your support by donating through www.building-momentum.co.uk

Here’re some photos from the event taken by Lisa Stonehouse…

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Latest Podcast

April 20, 2009 at 11:39 am (Company News, Podcasts) (, , , )

Listen to the lastest Northern Ballet Theatre podcast in which we talk to dancers and NBT staff about the prospect and benefits of having a new building in the heart of Leeds.

Right-Click [Apple users, click & hold] and select Save As… to download to your computer.

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Warming Up On New Building

April 20, 2009 at 9:21 am (Company News, Fundraising) (, , , )

Sharon Watson, NBT's Dairector of Learning & Access leading a team from Wates Construction in a dance session.

Sharon Watson, NBT's Dairector of Learning & Access leading a team from Wates Construction in a dance session.

Daragh Corcoran from BBC Radio Leeds interviewing NBT's Chief Executive, Mark Skipper.

Daragh Corcoran from BBC Radio Leeds interviewing NBT's Chief Executive, Mark Skipper.

To kick off the start of work on site of Northern Ballet Theatre’s new building with Phoenix Dance Theatre, NBT’s Director of Learning & Access Sharon Watson led a dance session for the team from Wates Construction. The whole thing was broadcast live on BBC Radio Leeds and as Sharon got the builders ready for their day on site, Radio Leeds’ Daragh Corcoran interviewed NBT’s Chief Executive Mark Skipper and Phil Harrison from Wates Construction.

You can listen again by clicking here, the interviews took place just after 8am.

For further information on the new building or to make a donation visit building-momentum.

Sharon Watson, NBT's Director of Learning & Access, leading the Wates Contruction Team in a dance session.

Sharon Watson, NBT's Director of Learning & Access, leading the Wates Contruction Team in a dance session.

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Breaking Ground on New Project

April 20, 2009 at 8:12 am (Company News, Events, Fundraising) (, , , , )

Artists Impression of New Building

Artists Impression of New Building

We’re delighted to be able to share some exciting news about our new building project. The ground breaking ceremony to mark work starting on site takes place this afternoon with representatives from NBT and Phoenix Dance Theatre joined by Andrew Carter, the leader of Leeds City Council, Andy Carver, Executive Director of Arts Council England, Yorkshire, as well as partners from Leeds Metropolitan University, architects the Strategic Design Alliance and Wates Construction. Dancers dressed as fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream will also attend the ceremony. Photographs from the ground breaking ceremony will be on-line tomorrow.

We’re having a double celebration today because the momentum capital fundraising campaign has broken the £1million mark. We are now working hard to raise the remaining £500,000 of the £1.5million target. Help us reach our goal by donating on-line at building momentum

Read the full press release here [pdf].

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Peter Grant Rehearses “As Time Goes By”

April 15, 2009 at 11:24 am (Artist's News, Casts, Company News, Events, General Information, Tour News) (, , , , , , )

Peter Grant rehearsing "As Time Goes By" at West Park with Northern Ballet Theatre

Peter Grant rehearsing "As Time Goes By" at West Park with Northern Ballet Theatre

 

Young jazz sensation, Peter Grant, was in rehearsal with the Company at their West Park studios last week.

Peter is a 20 year-old jazz artist from Guiseley, Leeds. His album, “New Vintage” debuted at number 8 in the charts and sold over 100,00 copies. His second album “Traditional” combines easy listening jazz with a younger edge.

Peter will perform live with NBT in the UK première of As Time Goes By. Conjuring up an era of classic glamour, the dancers perform David Nixon’s stylish choreography to a selection of timeless songs such as Moondance, Song and Sophisticated Swing Man.

As Time Goes By will have its UK première in London in May (Sadler’s Wells 19 & 20 May) and will be performed in Leeds early next year.

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Young Jazz Sensation, Peter Grant, Joins NBT for London Performances

April 15, 2009 at 9:19 am (Artist's News, Casts, Company News, Events, General Information, Tour News) (, , , , , , , , )

Peter Grant will be performing live with NBT at Sadler's Wells

Peter Grant will be performing live with NBT at Sadler's Wells

Young jazz sensation, Yorkshire-born Peter Grant, whose debut album sold over 100,000 copies, will perform live with Northern Ballet Theatre during the London performances of the Company’s 40th Anniversary Mixed Programme.

NBT will bring an exciting programme of dance, music, song and theatre to Sadler’s Wells, London this May. The Company will present a Mixed Programme (As Time Goes By, A Simple Man and Angels in the Architecture) alongside one of its most popular and enduring productions, Romeo & Juliet. NBT will perform at Sadler’s Wells from Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 May and tickets are available by calling the box office on 0844 412 4300.

The Mixed Programme opens with the UK première of As Time Goes By, in which Peter Grant will perform live with NBT. Conjuring up an era of classic glamour, the dancers perform David Nixon’s stylish choreography to a selection of timeless songs such as Moondance, Song and As Time Goes By.

Click to read the press release.

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