Farewell Steven Wheeler

March 24, 2009 at 3:04 pm (Artist's News, Casts, Company News, General Information) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Steven Wheeler with Charlotte Talbot in A Streetcar Named Desire and Steven as the Wardrobe Master in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Steven Wheeler with Charlotte Talbot in A Streetcar Named Desire and Steven as the Wardrobe Master in A Midsummer Night's Dream

This week Northern Ballet Theatre is performing Swan Lake and the Mixed Programme at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield.

Steven as Lord Capulet with Chiaki Nagao as Juliet in Romeo & Juliet

Steven as Lord Capulet with Chiaki Nagao as Juliet in Romeo & Juliet

It is a week tinged with sadness as we say farewell to a popular and much loved character. Senior Artist Steven Wheeler gives his final performances with NBT after 17 years with the Company.

His very last performance will be as Man in a Quandry in Gillian Lynne’s remarkable production, A Simple Man on Saturday evening.

After joining NBT in 1992 Steven has created many unforgettable roles, audiences have particularly enjoyed his portrayal of the Wardrobe Master in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a role that he refers to as his alter ego. Most recently Steven created the role of Hamlet’s Father in David Nixon’s Hamlet, and the Marquis in Cathy Marston’s A Tale of Two Cities.

He says; “I’ll miss the camaraderie of the dancers. We are one huge family and I think that shows on stage.”

David Nixon says: “I would personally like to give my thanks to Steven for the contribution he has made to the Company and for his many memorable performances.”

Steven’s parting message to you is: (Tongue firmly in cheek) “Don’t stop supporting NBT just because I’m not here. There are many other fabulous dancers to support. But seriously, thank you for all your support over the past 17 years, it’s been amazing.”

We’ll all miss you Steven and we wish you the very best for the future. Send your messages for Steven by emailing media@northernballettheatre.co.uk or post them at www.ballet.co.uk and click on NBTtalk.

NBT’s dancers add their tribute to Steven

“My top memory of Steve has to be my first years in the Company when we toured together in my old mini. Two of the tallest guys in the Company driving round in a tiny car with our bags must have looked a sight!
I’ve known Steve since I was eight and spent my entire dancing life with him so it is going to be really strange not having him around. His knowledge of NBT shows will be greatly missed.”
Darren Goldsmith, Leading Soloist

“Steven Wheeler is an amazing person to work with. He is very professional and will always give 100% in each performance (even if it is show 110!). He is also a very caring partner in pas de deux and will always make the girl look good even if he is uncomfortable. Every girl’s dream. Steven is one of my favourite people to work with.”
Ginnie Ray, Junior Soloist

“I think I was lucky to have joined the Company at the same time as Steven so I could spend a lot of time with him. He has been so helpful; when I joined the Company 17 years ago he helped me so I didn’t feel lost. We have had a great time working together and I will miss him so much but I wish him all the best for the future.”
Hironaio Takahashi, Principal Artist

“Steven came to Japan with Hiro and I for our wedding, he was our best man. He helped me chose my head-dress and Hiro’s suits. Steven has always been reliable at work. If he was playing my father, such as Lord Capulet in Romeo & Juliet, his acting and timing were perfect so I could therefore perform my role perfectly. He is so considerate and professional on stage, making sure that I looked good out there.”
Keiko Amemori, Principal Artist

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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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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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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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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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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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A Tale of Two Cities wallpaper

July 28, 2008 at 9:20 am (Marketing and PR News) (, , , , , , )

Wallpaper - Design Mick Schofield - Photography Hanson

Give your desktop background a lift with our new A Tale of Two Cities wallpaper…

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August eNewsletter

July 24, 2008 at 1:50 pm (Tour News) (, , , , , , , )

Things have been very busy at Northern Ballet Theatre since our last update. The Company is currently rehearsing hard for…

Click here to read more

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A Tale of Two Cities – Costume & Set Preview!

July 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm (Artist's News, Marketing and PR News) (, , , , , , )

A Tale of Two Cities - Costume Design - Jon Bausor

A Tale of Two Cities - Set Design - Jon Bausor

Exclusive galleries of Northern Ballet Theatre’s forthcoming production, A Tale of Two Cities, by Cathy Marston. To see some more of Jon Bausor’s designs and to book tickets etc. have a look at the new pages for the production here.


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NBT presents A Tale of Two Cities

May 29, 2008 at 9:26 am (Marketing and PR News) (, , , , , )

A Tale of Two Cities poster

British choreographer Cathy Marston is creating a new full-length production for Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT) based on Charles Dickens’ epic novel A Tale of Two Cities. The ballet has its première at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from Saturday 30 August to Saturday 6 September before touring to Nottingham and Sheffield.

Cathy’s interpretation of Dickens’ literary masterpiece focuses on the relationship between the three central characters, Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette, whose lives are inextricably caught up in the French revolution. Drawing on Cathy’s background in both classical and contemporary dance, A Tale of Two Cities will explore the central themes of fate, redemption, sacrifice and revenge.

Read the rest of the press release here…

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