Ballet on Briggate 2010

August 31, 2010 at 3:37 pm (Events, General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , , , , )

Hironao Takahashi & Michela Paolacci - Photo by Ryan Hopkinson

Hironao Takahashi & Michela Paolacci - Photo by Ryan Hopkinson

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!

Dancing in the street - Photo: Jo Dean

Dancing in the street - Photo: Jo Dean

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.

Northern Ballet Academy students

Northern Ballet Academy students - Photo: Ryan Hopkinson

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!

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Don’t Just Sit There – Opening Weekend 2010

July 22, 2010 at 10:22 am (General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , , , )


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

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.

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Dancer Promotions

July 22, 2010 at 9:00 am (Artist's News, Company News, General Information)

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).

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“Don’t Just Sit There” at the Great Yorkshire Show

July 16, 2010 at 1:52 pm (General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , )

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.

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Dangerous Liaisons @ West Yorkshire Playhouse

July 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm (General Information, Tour News) (, , )

Dangerous Liaisons at the West Yorkshire Playhouse this September

Dangerous Liaisons at the West Yorkshire Playhouse this September

A fantastic poster for Dangerous Liaisons is up outside the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It’s our first production of the season which features Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

Tickets for the season are on sale now.

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.

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Bringing the House Down!

July 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm (General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , , , , , , )

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.

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Congratulations Darren and Victoria…

July 8, 2010 at 8:40 am (Artist's News, General Information) (, , )

Some pictures from the happy couple’s day…

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Northern Ballet Theatre supports Dancing on Parliament tomorrow!

July 7, 2010 at 1:07 pm (Events, General Information) (, , , , , , , )

Arlene Philips launching Big Dance 2010

Photos: ©David Parry/ PA & © Hugo Glendinning

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

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

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Topping out of NBT’s new home

July 5, 2010 at 10:00 am (Academy, Classical Training, Company News, Events, General Information, Marketing and PR News, momentum, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) (, )

Dancers from Phoenix and NBT along with Academy students accept gifts of goodwill from Wates Construction

Last Thursday night our new headquarters in Leeds reached a significant milestone as Wates Construction held a topping out ceremony with the Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds on the Quarry Hill site.

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.

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Ballet Chief Executive named as a new Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire

July 5, 2010 at 9:00 am (Company News, General Information, Marketing and PR News)

Mark Skipper with medal of office.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 Skipper

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.

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Groups enjoy ‘cracking’ evening in Manchester

June 25, 2010 at 9:56 am (Events, General Information) (, , , , , , , , )

David Nixon, OBE, and the attendees watching Julie Charlet performing an excerpt from Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy.

David Nixon, OBE, and the attendees watching Julie Charlet. Photo: Rachel Poole.

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.

Budding Ballerina Hannah with Northern Ballet Theatre Dancers

Budding Ballerina Hannah with Northern Ballet Theatre Dancers Ben Mitchell, Thomas Aragones and Julie Charlet. Photo: Rachel Poole.

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NBT Board member named one of region’s top entrepreneurs

June 24, 2010 at 4:12 pm (Company News, General Information, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) (, , )

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 Tomlinison

Victoria Tomlinson

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.”

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First Experiences of Ballet

June 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm (Events, General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , , , , , )

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.

They also attended a performance of Wuthering Heights at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford and they give their thoughts on the production.

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

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Veronica Wadley appointed next London Chair of Arts Council England

June 11, 2010 at 7:58 am (General Information) (, , , , , )

Member of Northern Ballet Theatre's Board, Veronica Wadley

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.”

Read more about Veronica’s appointment as the London Chair of Arts Council England.

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Charmed, I’m sure

May 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm (Company News, Events, Fundraising, General Information, Marketing and PR News)

NBT Dancers Martha Leebolt and Toby Batley wear Azendi jewellery at the Leeds store

Last night NBT and Azendi launched their unique new partnership with a special event at Azendi’s store in Leeds. The new partnership will see Azendi designing jewellery for future productions as well as creating an exclusive range of sterling silver ballet charms to support the development of NBT’s new home in Leeds.

NBT dancers Rym Kechacha and Georgina May with NBT Chief Executive Mark Skipper

The range of twelve charms includes the an enamelled fan from NBT’s Madame Butterfly, the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker, a swan from Swan Lake, pointe shoes and a ballerina’s tutu to name but a few.

Azendi’s range of ballet charms will be on sale from early July both online and across the Company’s 18 stores in the UK. 20% of all profits made from the charms will be donated to momentum, NBT’s fundraising campaign for a new purpose-built home in the centre of Leeds.

Like NBT, Azendi takes pride in its Yorkshire heritage and has had success taking its brands across the UK. It is hoped this new partnership will provide both organisations with more opportunities to reach new audiences, perfectly aligning their visually stunning products and high quality brands.

Ian Jones, Managing Director of Azendi said, “We are delighted to announce the beginning of an exciting working partnership between Azendi and NBT. We believe there is a strong alignment between our two brands, both taking inspiration from a wide range of areas, classical and contemporary. Our philosophy is a close fit with the qualities NBT embodies; passion, attention to detail, creativity, fine workmanship and elegance.”

Mark Skipper, NBT Chief Executive agreed, “There are many reasons as to why our alliance makes such perfect sense, we both share a number of the same values and we look forward to seeing how the partnership develops.”

Have a look at our Cleopatra mini site to see how you could win the stunning Azendi Cubist necklace worth £385, as seen in the sneak peak picture of Cleopatra.

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David Nixon recieves OBE

May 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm (General Information)

David Nixon

David Nixon at Buckingham Palace

NBT’s Artistic Director, David Nixon, has been awarded an OBE at Buckingham Palace today. The honour was presented by the Prince of Wales.

David was accompanied by his wife, NBT Ballet Mistress, Yoko Ichino, and Patricia Doyle, who has worked closely with David on a number of NBT’s productions.

We hope you will join the staff of NBT in congratulating David, of whom we are all very proud.

David with Yoko, left, and Patricia, right

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Dance and digits do add up

May 21, 2010 at 11:11 am (General Information)

NBT has devised a unique way of helping primary school pupils engage with mathematics by marrying the subject with dance. Dancing by Numbers will see NBT work with youngsters aged nine to 11 in five primary schools in Leeds to teach the Curriculum through creative dance.

Dancing by Numbers is a cross-curricular dance and mathematics project that delivers strands of KS2 National Curriculum dance and mathematics. The project explores numbers, fractions and shapes through dance activities developing knowledge, understanding and skill in both subjects.

The originality of the project has won praise from TV presenter Rachel Riley, who replaced Carol Vorderman on ITV’s Countdown last year. She said: “Dancing by Numbers is a unique and innovative way of explaining abstract mathematical ideas in a highly visual and interactive style. I hope it will engage the children with maths and provide some good healthy fun at the same time.”

Kjartan Poskitt, TV present and author of the Murderous Maths series of books, has also given his backing to Dancing by Numbers and says: “It’s fantastic that such a prestigious company as Northern Ballet Theatre is bringing maths to young people! Music and dance are a really powerful way of getting ideas across to all ages and abilities, and the results are stunning!”

Dancing by Numbers will be delivered by NBT Education Officer, Sophie Alder, over three weeks from 7 June. NBT’s Learning team have seen the benefits of exploring traditional subjects in an innovative way and consequently have devised a series of similar projects for schools. These include Shaping Space which fuses science and dance, and Moving Words which develops literacy skills though movement.

Sophie says: “Projects such as these enable pupils to explore ideas they may find difficult to understand in the classroom. Working physically with ideas and concepts appeals to different learning styles and enables those who may struggle academically to engage with subjects in a different way. It also helps in developing communication and team skills, concentration and self esteem.

“Teaching through dance is a great way to engage pupils in topics that are key to their regular studies, to increase motivation and to interest and reinforce classroom-based work for children of all abilities.”

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Cleopatra, our new production for 2011

May 17, 2010 at 8:26 am (Company News, Events, General Information)

Northern Ballet Theatre

We’re very excited to share with you the news of our new production for 2011…Cleopatra.

Cleopatra will be Artistic Director David Nixon’s first new full-length work for three years, and will feature a new score by acclaimed composer Claude-Michel Schönberg. We can’t wait to see one of histories most powerful women brought to life through dance.

Cleopatra is an iconic story…it has such a strong focus on the central female character and it is a story that has a wide popular appeal.” David Nixon

Make sure you don’t miss out – sign up online now at and we’ll send priority booking information and behind the scenes updates.

Cleopatra will première at Leeds Grand Theatre in February 2011, before touring to venues throughout the UK. Make sure you keep checking back for further details!

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Through the Keyhole

May 14, 2010 at 8:09 am (General Information, momentum) (, , , , , , , , )

There was buzz of excitement on Quarry Hill last week when a group of
Northern Ballet Theatre staff entered their new home for the first time.

Although not yet complete, NBT’s new home is taking shape at a terrific pace,
and staff from Wardrobe, the Academy, Communications and Fundraising were able to see where their very desks would be.

It was fascinating to see how far the building has come from the plans pinned to the wall in West Park. Have your own virtual tour with footage captured on the day.

Click here to view the video on YouTube

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Brownies & Guides Take Over NBT

May 12, 2010 at 11:28 am (Academy, Classical Training, General Information, Learning & Access, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) (, , , , , , , , , )

Cara O'Shea on pointe

Sophie Alder showing the perfect Peter Pan poseOn Sunday 9th May 100 Brownies and Guides descended on Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT) to take part in a fun filled day of dance classes with NBT staff.

Cara O’Shea, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy ballet tutor, led the ballet technique sessions and Sophie Alder, Dance Education Officer, led the creative sessions.

Cara was really impressed with the standard of the students saying:

“Everyone has had a fantastic day. The students have worked so hard and have been really quick to pick up the exercises.”

Sophie taught the students some extracts from NBT’s productions of  Peter Pan and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They then worked on creating their own pieces based on the steps that they had learnt.

The day was rounded off with a performance to all the parents so they could see what their bidding ballerinas had been up to.

Guides having fun

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Running for momentum

May 10, 2010 at 9:43 am (Fundraising, General Information, momentum) (, , , , )

Northern Ballet Theatre’s Director of Communications, Laraine Penson, has completed her two weekend challenge of running more than 23 miles in two separate race events while raising money for momentum, NBT’s capital fundraising campaign. She completed the Bluebell 10 mile race around Calderdale in 1hr and 53 mins and the Leeds half marathon this weekend in 1hr and 59mins. Laraine raised £440.00 for momentum.

Laraine said, “I’d like to thank everyone who supported me. My legs ache a bit today but both races were really enjoyable. It was great to see so many people running, having fun and raising thousands of pounds for charity.”

Donations can still be made on-line at

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Thank yous from Queensferry Primary School

May 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm (General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , , )

At the beginning of March, Sophie Alder (Dance Education Officer) and musician Alan Costello spent some time at Queensferry Primary School during the company’s tour to Edinburgh. Several groups from the school enjoyed taking part in workshops, which enabled them to find out more about Northern Ballet Theatre’s production of Peter Pan and ballet in general.

As you can see from some of the letters we received it seems a great time was had by all:

Thank you for the wonderful piano playing and the fantastic instruction. I really enjoyed the experience of trying ballet out. When I was little I was jumping around in my living room like a ballet dancer I always dreamed of being one.

My favourite part was when we were jumping over the lines in the gym hall and how we were pretending that there [sic] were loads of different creatures in it like piranhas, sharks, jellyfish and lots more.


I would like to start this letter with a big thank you for teaching us a part of ballet and the piano playing was phenomenal.

The ballet was so fun I wish you could come every week.


It was brilliant and I wasn’t expecting it to be that good! My favourite bits was when we were doing the bouncing and jumping. My other favourite bit was the pirate – make up your own dance bit! I loved doing all of it. You taught it so well with extra brilliant music.

I don’t think it would have been as fun if it wasn’t you doing the music and the teaching. I learnt so much in that hour and a half session.

I would like to take this last opportunity to say thank you again on behalf of me, my class and my school. Thanks again.


And we’d like to say thank you to Queensferry Primary for the hospitality of the faculty, staff and pupils.

If your school is interested in repertoire based workshops then drop Philippa Plumtree-Varley an email for details.

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Poppy’s Work Experience With Northern Ballet Theatre

May 4, 2010 at 1:19 pm (General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , , )

During our visit to Norwich Theatre Royal last week, the company were joined by 14 year old Poppy Stevens. Poppy came to undertake a work placement with Northern Ballet Theatre and gain some experience of all the different roles involved in making a production actually ‘happen’.

Poppy has very kindly written about her week and it certainly sounds like she enjoyed her time with us.

Hi I’m Poppy.

On the 26th April 2010 I started my week’s work experience at Norwich Theatre Royal. Northern Ballet Theatre were on their Summer Tour and were at the Theatre performing Peter Pan. On the first day I helped to off-load pieces of scenery from the lorries and I met Laura Sprake and Abigail Wilkinson – they sort of took me under their wing. They showed me how the company worked and introduced me to loads of different people. By the second day I was sitting with Laura during the rehearsals with a set of cans [earphones] on!! I really felt like part of the team. I learnt so much about how a stage works and how things like rig-checks are done – in the space of 2 days already.

On the third day I had really become more confident in having a laugh and talking to the people within the company. Again I sat with Laura in the lighting booth during the actual performance, watching the BEAUTIFUL show whilst listening on my cans to everyone backstage. The show ran really smoothly – I was surprised at how well everyone got on and worked together. On the 4th day I met Caroline Burn when I went to the wonderful workshop, Ballet Explored. I helped out then watched the company ballet class. During the matinee performance I helped Dolly (Georgina Gabbie: Wigs Mistress) with make-up and wigs. It was so much fun. Dolly welcomed me like an old friend just the same as everyone in the company.

On my last day the first thing I did was help out with Caroline’s Mini Movers workshop for the under 5’s and I made a wand! In the afternoon I helped with the Mature Movers workshop and danced with them. During the evening show I was really excited because I was shadowing Liv (Olivia Dermot-Walsh: Stage Manager) and a different Laura on stage. I was allowed to do some cues in the show which was really good. After the show had finished I nearly cried because it was like leaving a new group of friends. I was given a signed programme and poster – thanks to Laura Sprake, Jason Raper and Caroline Burn (who got it signed for me).

It was the experience of a life time and I hope I will see all the Crew very soon.
A big thank you to NBT for welcoming me and being so wonderful!

Poppy Stevens
Age 14

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Peter Pan – Norwich Cast

April 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm (Casts, General Information) (, , , , , )

Ashley Dixon as Peter Pan - photo by Alistair Muir

Ashley Dixon as Peter Pan

Buy tickets for Peter Pan from Norwich Theatre Royal.

Norwich Theatre Royal Box Office: 01603 630000

Information & Photos of Northern Ballet Theatre’s production of Peter Pan.

Information on further events at the theatre, touch tours, audio described performances and workshops.

Please note, casts are subject to change without notice.

Tuesday, 27 April

Evening, 7.30pm

Wednesday, 28 April

Evening, 7.30pm

Thursday, 29 April

Matinee, 2.30pm

Evening, 7.30pm

Friday, 30 April

Evening, 7.30pm

Saturday, 1 May

Matinee, 2.30pm

Evening, 7.30pm

Buy tickets for Peter Pan from Norwich Theatre Royal.

Norwich Theatre Royal Box Office: 01603 300000

Information & Photos of Northern Ballet Theatre’s production of Peter Pan.

Information on further events at the theatre, touch tours, audio described performances and workshops.

Please note, casts are subject to change without notice.

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NBT International Summer School

April 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm (Academy, Classical Training, General Information, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) ()

NBT has started recruiting for its annual International Summer School. The School takes place at the Company’s studios in Leeds and is open to students who are already in or are hoping to go into full-time classical ballet training.

There are two strands to the Summer School: a one-week an intermediate level course for 12 to 16 year olds which takes place from Monday 26 to Saturday 31 July, and a two-week senior level course for 16 to 19 year olds which takes place from Monday 2 to Saturday 14 August.

Daily sessions are designed to strengthen and improve students’ classical ballet technique while providing the unique opportunity to work with NBT artistic staff and find out more about the Company.

For more information on how to apply or about further training opportunities with Northern Ballet Theatre email the Academy or phone Hannah of Becki on 0113 274 5355

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Local politicians visit NBT

April 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm (Academy, Classical Training, General Information, Marketing and PR News)

Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves, and Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, dropped into the Northern Ballet Theatre studios today to watch Academy students taking class with Viki Westall.

They were hugely impressed by the students’ strength and athleticism – especially when the boys did press ups with their feet on the barre!

A quick tour of our facilities left Rachel and Lucinda in no doubt as to why a large and growing professional ballet company needs for a fit-for-purpose facility and they were interested to hear about how NBT’s education and community work will be enhanced in our new purpose-built home.

Rachel and Lucinda are currently campaigning to keep the West Park Centre open after NBT moves. As one of the busiest community centres in Leeds, the West Park Centre receives up to 3000 visitors per week, in addition to the staff and tenants who work here. As well as hosting local residents’ associations, it is also home to several orchestras, choirs and music groups, a Baptist church, various artists and a wide range of vulnerable adults and pupils with Special Educational Needs. To find out more about the campaign visit Rachel’s website

Rachel Reeves and Lucinda Yeadon with Academy students in West Park

Rachel Reeves and Lucinda Yeadon with Academy students in West Park

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Ballet v Football – the Battle of Fittest

April 22, 2010 at 11:10 am (General Information) (, , , , , , )

Milton Keynes Theatre saw a battle of the fittest earlier this week between NBT dancer Toby Bately and Aaron Wilbraham star player for The MK Dons. Both at the top of their game The MK News took a look at their lifestyle and punishing training schedules to find out who wins the epic battle of tackle versus tutu!

Toby Batley with Aaron Wilbraham

6 ft Dancer Tobias tells us:

“I train 6 days a week with an hour and 15 minutes of Ballet and technique training, usually followed by 6 hours of rehearsal for the show. I also spend time in the gym or swimming. I guess it’s around 50 hours a week in training and I’m on stage for 7 two-hour shows a week. Health is extremely important as a dancer you can’t let anything slip as that could result in injury. We have to have a strong upper body to lift our partner and a strong core and sense of balance to do turns and complicated tricks, all this and we need to be pretty flexible too. Diet isn’t something I worry about too much but I do try to get my five-a-day and I have to say that I don’t really have any health vices apart from maybe knowing when to stop.”

Pro footballer Aaron, 6ft 3 also has a strict regime of four days training a week and a game on a Saturday with an occasional midweek game too and says:

“Training sessions usually last around 90 minutes, split into high tempo bursts. As well as football we will do weights programmes, core stability and yoga. I also work out in the gym. Health is massively important in my career. If you’re not fit and healthy you can’t perform to your optimum level, it’s really important for footballers to have good core strength for holding off defenders when you’re in possession. We work very hard at improving this. My diet is low-fat, high-carb with lots of fruit chicken and veg. I like to think that I’m pretty healthy.”

So what’s the verdict? Adam Rowland currently touring as a physiotherapist with NBT but no stranger to Rugby League said of our competitors:

“These young men are in their prime and in tip top condition and clearly work hard to maintain this level of fitness which is so important in their careers. Although training varies between the guys you will find Cardio anaerobic exercise which uses your body fats and sugars is critical for footballers who need to use their bodies more intensely over short periods of time whereas a a dancer needs a strong aerobic exercise which uses pure oxygen as they need a larger range of stamina and energy over a longer period of time. This is maybe why you see differences between the type of exercise used and diet. But I have to say it would be hard to decide who would win the battle of the fittest!”

Toby agreed: “I’m not sure I’d be able to beat Aaron on the pitch”, with Aaron adding “I certainly couldn’t do that with my leg!”

Toby and Aaron outside the theatre

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The DoC runs for momentum

April 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm (General Information) (, , , , , , , )

Northern Ballet Theatre‘s Director of Communications, Laraine Penson, is running for momentum, our capital fundraising campaign. Over two weekends in May Laraine will run over 23 miles in order to help NBT reach it’s final fundraising total for the new building which we are planning to move into in September.

On Sunday 2 May Laraine will run the Bluebell 10 – a 10.3 mile race including trails, tracks, minor roads and the beautiful bluebell woods in the heart of Yorkshire. Don’t be fooled by this desription, it also takes in Calderdale’s steepest hill and ends with a river crossing. The following weekend, Sunday 9 May, Laraine will run the Leeds half marathon, 13 miles around the scenic undulating landscape of Leeds. If you would like to support NBT’s new building by sponsoring Laraine please visit

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Dance Vote 2010

April 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm (General Information) (, , , )

Keiko Amemori in Angels in the Architecture - Photo by Bill Cooper

Keiko Amemori in Angels in the Architecture - Photo by Bill Cooper

In the run up to the general election, DanceVote 2010, created and backed by a steering group of the major dance organisations, is looking for assurances from the main political parties that they will support the thriving dance sector.

DanceVote 2010 has five aims

  1. To connect every politician standing for election to parliament with a dance activity in their local area
  2. To highlight the popularity of dance among constituents and the benefits to residents
  3. To underline the need for sustained public funding in order to build on (and not undermine) the progress achieved over the past few years
  4. To champion the value of dance as an art form, as well as in health and education
  5. To secure a statement on how candidates will support dance and the arts if they are elected

Why we need to talk to politicians now?

The current economic climate means that getting dance recognised and connected to politicians, in a local context, is more vital than ever. With difficult spending decisions ahead, we need politicians to understand that dance is something local voters care about, and that investing in dance provides value for money and benefits to local people. If spending cuts are being made, we don’t want dance activity to be the easiest thing to cut because politicians do not have knowledge of local dance activity.

Getting involved is quick and easy

Whether its ballroom or ballet, morris or contemporary dance that gets your adrenalin pumping, GETTING INVOLVED IS EASY, click here to send a personalised email to your local Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates explaining why you are passionate about dance, and asking them to pledge their support for dance and the arts.

DanceVote 2010 champions all dance, both professional and participatory. It is co-ordinated by Dance UK, working in partnership with a steering committee of leading dance professionals representing diverse backgrounds.

To find out more about DanceVote2010 go to or call Dance UK on 020 7713 0730.

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Corporate Financier takes Chair of Northern Ballet Theatre Board

April 13, 2010 at 3:31 pm (General Information) (, , , , , )

David Forbes

David Forbes

One of Leeds’ leading corporate financiers is to take over as Chair of the Board of Directors for Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT). David Forbes, a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Division of Rothschild, replaces Councillor Bernard Atha, to lead a recently strengthened Board with newly appointed directors from the world of education and media.

NBT continues to go from strength-to-strength. Having celebrated a successful 40th anniversary, the Company has secured funding for an exciting new production and has started its first tour of the year, performing to large and enthusiastic audiences in Leeds and around the country.

David takes up this position with NBT as it prepares to move into its new home in the centre of Leeds which it will share with Phoenix Dance Theatre. This highly visible powerhouse for inventive dance which will offer dance enthusiasts and audiences, not just in Leeds but across the north of England, closer access to two of the UK’s most important companies in the largest purpose-built dance space outside London. It will also offer meeting and conference and lecture facilities to corporate businesses.

David Forbes joined the Board in December 2003, bringing to it his extensive business experience and his wide-ranging contact base in the region. He has been a highly visible member of the business community in Yorkshire since 1989. He is also a Patron of the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

David Forbes, Pippa Moore, David Ward and Bernard Atha

David Forbes, Pippa Moore, David Ward and Bernard Atha at Northern Ballet Theatre's new home, currently under construction in the heart of Leeds

David said: “This is a truly exciting time for Northern Ballet Theatre and I don’t think I have ever seen the Company more confident. There is no doubt in my mind about the importance of having such strong cultural companies based here in Leeds and how well they represent the region around the rest of the country and abroad.

“I will be doing all I can to secure financial support for the Company from the corporate sector as every business in the city gains from having NBT here.

“Bernard Atha will be a hard act to follow. He has made a huge contribution to the Company over many years. I feel very honoured to have been offered this position and look forward to leading the Board in developing what can only be a bright future for NBT.”

NBT’s Chief Executive, Mark Skipper, says:

“We’re thrilled to have David as our new Chair. This is, as he says, an exciting and vital time for the Company. David has been on the Board for more than years now, so he understands the workings of the Company and the challenges we face. I have every faith that his wealth of experience and his many skills will be of tremendous benefit in this position and will help NBT to develop a secure and solid future.”

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