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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Former NBT Students to Dance with Rambert

June 25, 2010 at 11:00 am (Academy, Classical Training, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) (, , , , , )

Former Northern Ballet Theatre Associates Lauren Wilson and Helen Barlow have been selected by Mark Baldwin to tour with Rambert Dance Company next year. They will be performing ‘A Linah Curva’.

Both Helen and Lauren are just about to finish their second year at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. To be selected to tour with the main company is a great achievement and we wish them the very best of luck.

Hopefully we will be able to update you on how they got along next year.

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We’re Going on a Bear Hunt…

June 11, 2010 at 11:03 am (Learning & Access) (, , , , , , , )

Children playing happily waving a large light-weight sheet.

Photo: Brian Slater

Over the last couple of weeks Sophie Alder (Dance Education Officer) has been visiting Shepherds Lane Children’s Centre in Leeds working with the pupils to explore the tale of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ through music and dance.

Watched by Sophie Adler Children hunt for the 'bear' in the school's garden.

Photo: Brian Slater

To track down the elusive bear the children used play-dough to represent mud, strips of ribbon for a snow-storm, plenty of water to splash about in and they ventured outside in the final week to roam amongst the trees and bushes. Following the story with Sophie the little ones were able to enhance their coordination skills, sense of rhythm, and aptitude for movement whilst also developing their imaginations.

Developing your co-ordination skills can be fun and achieved through play - running and jumping for starters.

Photo: Brian Slater

In Northern Ballet Theatre’s new building, due to open in January 2011, the Learning & Access team are hoping to work more with under 5s in weekly classes and occasional workshops. If you are interested in NBT’s work with children’s centres in Leeds or getting involved in similar projects, please contact Philippa Plumtree-Varley (Learning & Access Coordinator) on 0113 274 5355.

Sophie and children reaching, stretching and playing together.

Photo: Brian Slater

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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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Easter Course update from Caroline Burn

April 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm (Easter course, Learning & Access, Northern Ballet Theatre Academy) (, , , , , , )

Easter course update

All the final preparations are taking place and I am looking forward to the Easter course finally starting next week.  All the places have been filled; we will have 33 eager dancers arriving on Tuesday morning where they will meet Philip Feeney and I first thing. They will also meet the rest of the Learning & Access team who will be helping to run the course, and then we will jump straight into dancing! I am planning a fun energetic first warm-up and class to help the group get to know each other, as throughout the week we will be working closely to form our very own company.

Last week whilst I was away on tour with the Company in Woking, Philip sent me through a copy of the music. It sounds fresh, exciting and energetic. I am really looking forward to hearing him play it live for the first time next week, and seeing the reaction of the group. Martin, our Deputy Chief lighting technician put it on to CD for me so I am playing it constantly in the car, and starting to imagine the quality and feel I would like the dancers to have. I am hoping that the young dancers on the course will be as inspired as I am, and create a fabulous original piece.

Dancer Micheal Berkin will be joining me to deliver the course, he will be involved in the creative work, helping to devise the piece. It will be great for the group to learn from him too and to hear all about life as a professional dancer with a national touring company.

Well all that’s left to do now is to make some name badges and put down the dance floor, and we’re ready for action!

Have a great Easter and don’t forget to check the blog out next week with news from our young dancers on how the course is going.


Dance Education Officer

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Jo Dean reflects on a terrific START for pupils

March 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm (General Information, Learning & Access, Video) (, , , , , , )

As the Easter holidays approach, the START project has sadly finished for another year, with the last of the school workshops taking place last week. START is a project run by the Learning & Access team and is aimed at giving young people in Leeds the opportunity to visit the theatre and take part in arts activity.

I was able to get out to see some of the workshops taking place in local schools, when I accompanied our photographer to St Patrick’s Primary and Carr Manor High School, and it was great to see the children leaping across the room and really enjoying the sessions. Having been to see our production of As Time Goes By in February, I was amazed by what they remembered from the production and the details that they picked up on, and it was very interesting to find out which bits they enjoyed best.

While most of the schools went to see A Christmas Carol in December, Hugh Gaitskell Primary School was unable to go at Christmas and so attended a performance of Romeo and Juliet in March instead. As I stood outside the auditorium during Act two, I could hear shrieks of laughter as Mercutio teased Tybalt, followed by a gasp of “wow” as the heavens opened and the rain thundered down as the curtain fell. It was refreshing to hear such an emotional reaction to the piece.

We are currently collecting feedback from all the teachers involved in the project which has all been excellent, and we hope our funding application to the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts will be successful so that we can continue running the project for another year. This video highlights some of the great feedback we have had from pupils and teachers.

The START project, supported by The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts, aims to give up to 500 pupils from inner city schools in leeds, the opportunity to take part in high quality arts activity. Pupils participate in two workshops in school and two theatre trips to Leeds Grand Theatre, as well as support and resource packs for teachers, giving pupils an experience they would not normally have access to.

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Easter Course Applications Now Closed!

March 19, 2010 at 8:59 am (Easter course, Learning & Access) (, , , , , )

Thank you to all of you who have sent in applications for Northern Ballet Theatre’s ‘New Beginnings’ course during the Easter holidays. The deadline for all applications has now closed! We have had a huge number of people expressing an interest in the course this year and it is such a shame that we only have a limited number of spaces available. We will be sending out confirmation letters to those who have places on the course over the next couple of days and also letting people know if they are not able to take part.

For those who are going to be joining us at Easter, it looks set to be a wonderful four days. If you are disappointed that you will not be taking part though, or are reading this and wish you had applied, then do not despair! From 26-30 July, Northern Ballet Theatre and Phoenix Dance will be holding their joint Summer School for young people from the ages of 9 to 18. Anyone with an interest in dance is welcome to apply and hopefully take part.

If you think the Summer School would be right up your street, then keep checking the Learning & Access section of NBT’s website for more information. Alternatively get in touch and send me your email/postal address and I will be able to send you details of the course nearer the time. It’s as simple as that!

Philippa Plumtree-Varley
Learning & Access Coordinator

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Romeo & Juliet Cast Sheet for Leeds Grand Theatre

February 26, 2010 at 10:14 am (Casts) (, , , , , , )

Montagues; Capulets; a Ball; the balcony; fights; death; unrestrained passion; an all-consuming love; the ultimate tragedy.

Northern Ballet Theatre’s classic adaptation of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy returns to the stage. Passionate and dramatic, this is ballet at its most intense.

Sets and costumes designed by the award winning Lez Brotherston, stunning dancing and Prokofiev’s timeless score make Northern Ballet Theatre’s critically acclaimed Romeo & Juliet an unforgettable theatrical experience.

Romeo & Juliet at Leeds Grand Theatre

For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

Book tickets from Leeds Grand Theatre. Or call the box office: 0844 848 2702

Casts are subject to change…

Saturday 27 February, Matinée

Saturday 27 February, Evening

Monday 1 February, Evening

Tuesday 2 March, Evening

Wednesday 3 March, Evening

Thursday 4 March, Matinée

Thursday 4 March, Evening

Friday 5 March, Evening

Saturday 6 March, Matinée

Saturday 6 March, Evening

Casts are subject to change…

Book tickets from Leeds Grand Theatre. Or call the box office: 0844 848 2702

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Easter Course Update…

February 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm (Easter course, Learning & Access) (, , , , , , )

Places on this years Easter Course are starting to fill up and I’ve just had an exciting trip down to London to meet up with composer Philip Feeney. We met at Ballet Central where Philip is resident pianist and composer. He is currently working on a full length ballet score for Michael Pink, Artistic Director of Milwaukee Ballet.

We discussed some words that would describe the feeling of the piece and Philip is now going to come up with some short snippets of music. One thing he is going to try is creating a track digitally that will not have one of the parts (instruments) on it. That part will then be played over the track adding a live element to the music but still having the excitement of lots of instruments.

He took me down to his office, where there was an assortment of equipment. On one side of Philip was an electric piano, on the other side computers that he uses to orchestrate the music he creates on the piano. For example he can play something on the piano then let us hear what it will sound like played on strings. It’s really useful software as it can give us an idea what the music will sound like with a number of different instruments playing.

This will be very good for us once Philip has written the music. He will record the music on the computer so that when we are rehearsing we can hear what it will sound like when musicians from NBT’s orchestra play the piece. (At the opening of our new building)

I am not going to give away too much, but I left feeling inspired and excited! I will however share with you that Philip is able to come up to Leeds and play for the course on the 6th and 9th April. This means that you will be able to hear the music played live by the composer and we will be able to make any changes we need as we create our piece.

Don’t forget to book your place as this Easter Course is going to be very special.


Dance Education Officer

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Latest Images From Our New Building

January 29, 2010 at 10:30 am (Fundraising, General Information, momentum) (, , , , , , , )

Work is progressing apace on our new home in the heart of Leeds. During a site visit by members of our board, Mark Skipper and Judith Hartley we caught the progress on camera…

See more photos from the visit…

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Birth of a Christmas Ballet…

December 17, 2009 at 4:25 pm (40th Anniversary, General Information) (, , , , , , )

A fantastic article about Northern Ballet Theatre and putting on a large-scale ballet in The Independent this week…

What does it take to put on a Christmas dance spectacular? Jonathan Brown goes behind the scenes at Leeds Grand Theatre to witness the organised chaos…

Read full Independent article…

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Be part of Northern Ballet Theatre’s future…

December 11, 2009 at 1:51 pm (Academy, Classical Training, General Information) (, , , , , , , , , )

View Northern Ballet Theatre Academy’s new brochure for 2010/2011 and find out how you can train alongside the company in our brand new purpose built dance centre. With programmes for all ages and abilities there are opportunities for everyone who wants to dance.

For our Professional Division and Associate Division entrance is by audition only and the closing date for applications is 22nd February so don’t delay, click here to download the form now!

Please give Hannah or Becki a call on 0113 274 5355 if you have any questions.

Academy Brochure

Academy Brochure

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A Trip to the Theatre

November 13, 2008 at 11:39 am (Learning & Access) (, , , , , , , )

We are delighted to launch our new interactive virtual theatre visit, which is now available to use online as preparation for a trip to the theatre or as a fun activity for a school class. This colourful, informative feature shows children what to expect when visiting the theatre and gives them an insight into a venue that they might not be familiar with.

Why not explore the feature during an IT lesson, or as part of their arts provision. The feature includes a quiz on how to behave at the theatre, so is the perfect preparation for their visit to the theatre.

Click here to play

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Spend a year with NBT – 2009 desk calendar on sale now

November 13, 2008 at 11:13 am (General Information, Marketing and PR News) (, , , , )

La Bayadere photoshoot photo by HANSON

Wuthering Heights ballet photoshoot photo by HANSON

Northern Ballet Theatre’s 2009 desk calendar is on sale now. Featuring stunning photography from our forthcoming repertoire by exceptional photographers such as Steve Hanson, Bill Cooper, Merlin Hendy and Darren Goldsmith, and priced at £4 per calendar plus postage, the calendar is an excellent Christmas gift.

To place an order please write to NBT enclosing your name, delivery address and contact phone number. Please tell us how many calendars you would like to order and enclose a cheque (made payable to Northern Ballet Theatre Ltd) for the full amount including postage (see rates below).

Send your order to:
2009 Calendar
Northern Ballet Theatre
West Park Centre
Spen Lane
Leeds, LS16 5BE

Please note we are currently unable to accept credit/debit card orders.

Postage rates per order:
1 calendar = 56p postage
2 calendars = 81p postage
3 calendars = £1.41 postage
4 calendars = £1.76 postage
5 calendars = £1.76 postage

All calendars will be posted second class.

Special offer for the Friends of NBT
For any orders of 4 or more calendars we’ll give you 1 calendar free. Please include your Friends membership number in your order.

Price of calendar includes VAT at 17.5%
Charity No: 259140
VAT No: 146 6307 66
Company Registration No: 947096
Registered in England and Wales

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New momentum galleries

November 5, 2008 at 4:21 pm (General Information) (, , , , , , , , , )

momentum website

There are new galleries in the events section of the momentum site
The page now features photographs of all previous momentum events plus details of future ones…

Find out more

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Performance Day in Milan

October 17, 2008 at 9:40 am (Artist's News, Events, Overseas Tour) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

La Scala


Triennale Theatre

All in all a very successful day. Whilst the Technicians returned to the theatre to complete the fit up, the dancers had a few more hours to explore Milan this morning before the taxis arrived at the hotel to take them to the theatre for class. The afternoon was spent with technical rehearsals for all 3 companies in the performance. The ballet was first to rehearse so there was more free time for the dancers whilst rehearsals continued for the others. Our Technicians were providing the technical support for the other companies so work continued for them.

Live from Leeds

The performance was scheduled for 8.30 with a reception beforehand. The first half was rather long and we eventually got to the interval at about 10pm. A quick change and then on with the ballet. First, we had the Nutcracker pas de deux danced by Julie Charlet and John Hull, then the pas de deux from Three Musketeers danced by Hironao and Keiko Takahashi, then the Dracula pas de deux danced by Martha Leebolt and Chris Hinton-Lewis. The final offering was Rhapsody in Blue.

The dancers gave excellent performances and all was received well by the audience. As far as Leeds City Council and Marketing Leeds are concerned, the week in Milan has been a triumph with the cultural offering playing a major part in the success.

A bit of free time on Friday morning before the flight back to Leeds (as long as the general strike doesn’t affect anything!)

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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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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 – 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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Dancer Hannah Bateman keeps us updated on rehearsals.

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Till next week,


Love Hannah.










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New Open Classes

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

Open Classes

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

Weekly classes as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interview with David Maric

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

Photography - Clare Park, HANSON. Design - Mick Schofield

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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L&A August update

July 31, 2008 at 9:41 am (Learning & Access) (, , , , , , , , )

Get Creative 2007 - Body Proping - Photo by Brian Slater

As the weather improves and the summer finally begins, we look forward to the summer projects that we will be delivering throughout August.

We kick things off with Get Creative, a week long project combining music, movement and masks. Delivered in collaboration with Opera North, 17 young people aged 12 – 13 will have the opportunity to create their own masks and develop movement and songs to create a piece to be performed to family and friends at the end of the week.

Read the rest of the update here.

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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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Public art for our new dance centre

July 24, 2008 at 10:48 am (Company News, Fundraising) (, , , , , , , , , )

The search is on for an artist to create an artwork especially for our new building.

An exciting part of the plans for NBT’s capital project is the commissioning of a piece or pieces of Public Art to be incorporated within the building. The commission forms part of Leeds City Councils ambitious Public Art plans and, along with the exhibition space, extends even further what the new building will have to offer the communities of Leeds and the north of England.

There is a broad brief for the Public Art commission, it could be anything and use any medium, other than water. There are three potential locations identified by the design team for the public art: the entrance area, the glazing to the south façade, and the projecting balconies to the south façade.

Leeds City Council has started the procurement process and an artist should be appointed in October. For artists wishing to enter the procurement process the deadline for expressions of interest is 5pm on Monday 11 August, visit: to sign up.

Enquiries about the tender website/process to Julie Brennen, Procurement Unit, email tel: 0113 24 74088


For more information on the planned building, and to find out how to help us realise it visit

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New Nutcracker Stuff!

July 14, 2008 at 11:33 am (Marketing and PR News, Tour News) (, , , , , )

The Nutcracker. Poster design Mick Schofield

Northern Ballet Theatre’s Autumn/Winter Tour sees the return of David Nixon’s sparkling festive favourite, The Nutcracker

The production will be visiting the following theatres around the UK: 

Hull, New Theatre –  4-8 November 08
Woking, New Victoria Theatre –  11-15 November 08
Milton Keynes Theatre –  25-29 November 08
Bath, Theatre Royal –  2-6 December 08
Leeds, Grand Theatre –  17-31 December 08

To book tickets and to see the new gallery visit the recently renovated Nutcracker production pages

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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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‘Breathing Space’ Project

July 10, 2008 at 1:52 pm (Friends News, Learning & Access) (, , , , , , )

NBT & Pyramid of Arts on \'Breathing Space\'

Learning & Access continue partnership with Pyramid of Arts


We have once more been working with Leeds based  organisation Pyramid of Arts on ‘Breathing Space’, a project that is exploring the benefits of dance and physical movement with a group of adults with profound and multiple disabilities. So far four sessions have been held and participants have really enjoyed working with NBT Dance Education Officer Caroline Burn. The project finishes on  21 July.

Julia Piggott, Creative Director at Pyramid of Arts said, “Working with movement and live music will give these adults a chance to be creative and increase their movement skills in a safe environment.  It also provides everyone, with and without a disability, an opportunity to communicate and socialise.”

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Next step in giant leap of faith

June 9, 2008 at 9:59 am (Company News, Fundraising) (, , , , , )


Read an article about our new building from the Yorkshire Post magazine, published on Saturday 7 June …

“The new, as yet un-named building, will be the only centre in the UK to house a contemporary dance company alongside a classical narrative one, with a school and a dance degree course. NBT’s orchestra will also benefit from the new facilities with the chance to do in-house recordings of commissioned scores and the possibility of lunch-time recitals by the musicians. Mark Skipper (NBT Chief Executive) adds: “The new dance centre and more importantly what will take place inside it, will establish Leeds as a powerhouse for dance in the UK… it will be source of pride for the wider community, everyone in Yorkshire and beyond who values our work.”

Read the whole article here

Visit the Momentum website


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