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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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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Rym Kechacha Weblog 2

November 6, 2008 at 2:20 pm (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , )

“We are at the beginning of the long winter tour of Nutcracker. Last week was the last week of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a while, and this got me thinking about this well-loved, brilliant ballet. I have always been a voracious reader, and among the books I love reading are old ballet books. There is a wealth of information written by balletomanes and critics about ballet in Britain when it was beginning to take off as a serious and attended art form. I find this era is so fascinating, and it is the role of the touring ballet troupes who travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles to bring ballet to the masses, and the reaction of…”

Read the rest of this post on Rym’s blog

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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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A Midsummer Night’s Dream up for award

November 3, 2008 at 11:24 am (Marketing and PR News) (, , , , , , )

NBTs A Midsummer Nights Dream ballet

We’re delighted to once again have been nominated for a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for David Nixon’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Palace Theatre.

Also nominated in the dance category of the MEN awards are Don Quixote, from the Kirov Ballet at The Lowry, Nederlands Dans Theater, at The Lowry and
Push, with Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant at The Lowry. The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony featuring stars of stage and screen on December 2 at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

NBT won the dance category last year for David Nixon’s production of The Three Musketeers.

You can read all the nominations on the MEN site

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Casts for The Nutcracker in Hull

October 30, 2008 at 4:38 pm (Artist's News, Casts, Tour News) (, , , , , )

Photo by Bill Cooper

Castings for The Nutcracker at New Theatre, Hull.
4 – 8 November 2008
Box Office: 014822 226 655
Book Online

Tuesday 4 November (EVE)

Clara – Pippa Moore
Nutcracker – Christopher Hinton-Lewis
Drosselmeyer – Darren Goldsmith
Sugar Plum Fairy – Keiko Amemori
Cavalier – Hironao Takahashi

Wednesday 5 November (EVE)

Clara – Christie Duncan
Nutcracker – Ashley Dixon
Drosselmeyer – Kenneth Tindall
Sugar Plum Fairy – Martha Leebolt
Cavalier – Martin Bell

Thursday 6 November (MAT)

Clara – Isabella Gasparini
Nutcracker – David Ward
Drosselmeyer – Christopher Hinton Lewis
Sugar Plum Fairy – Julie Charlet
Cavalier – John Hull

Thursday 6 November (EVE)

Clara – Pippa Moore
Nutcracker – Christopher Hinton-Lewis
Drosselmeyer – Darren Goldsmith
Sugar Plum Fairy – Keiko Amemori
Cavalier – Hironao Takahashi

Friday 7 November (EVE)

Clara – Isabella Gasparini
Nutcracker – David Ward
Drosselmeyer – Christopher Hinton Lewis
Sugar Plum Fairy – Julie Charlet
Cavalier – John Hull

Saturday 8 November (MAT)

Clara – Christie Duncan
Nutcracker – Ashley Dixon
Drosselmeyer – Kenneth Tindall
Sugar Plum Fairy – Martha Leebolt
Cavalier – Martin Bell

Saturday 8 November (EVE)

Clara – Ayana Kanda
Nutcracker – Hironao Takahashi
Drosselmeyer – Steven Wheeler
Sugar Plum Fairy – Georgina May
Cavalier – Yi Song

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Rym Kechacha Weblog

October 28, 2008 at 10:20 am (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , )

Rym Kechacha is a dancer with Northern Ballet Theatre, joining the company from The Central School of Ballet in August 2008. While at Central School Rym kept a weblog for and the entries continue now.

Click here to read Rym’s blog

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Nutcracker Programme available for Download

October 24, 2008 at 2:54 pm (General Information, Marketing and PR News) (, , , , , , )

Northern Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker

David Nixon’s magical ballet returns to the stage this season, visiting Hull, Woking, Milton Keynes, Bath and Leeds over Christmas.
For a more detailed look at this production before you book, you can watch the trailer and download the programme here.

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New Nutcracker E-Flyer

October 23, 2008 at 2:17 pm (Marketing and PR News, Tour News) (, , , , )

Northern Ballet Theatre presents David Nixon's The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker – On Tour this Autumn Winter Season

The production will be visiting Hull, Woking, Milton Keynes, Bath and Leeds between now and Christmas.
Click here for full tour details

Watch the E-Flyer

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Milan 2008

October 23, 2008 at 1:29 pm (Overseas Tour) (, , , , )

I arrived at Leeds/Bradford airport early as a couple of us had checked into the lounge and wanted to get airside to take advantage of the facilities, I’ve flown nearly eighty thousand miles in the last twelve months and I’m almost robotic in my actions at an airport these days. Once on the plane the iPod was on and I try and grab a brief snooze. Landing at Milan Bergamo some two hours later, we shuffle through immigration and baggage reclaim and onto a waiting coach to take us to the airport.
We arrive at the hotel and Steve Hughes our Company Manager, arranges for the crew to get checked in first as we’re expected at the venue in a little under an hour. A quick wash and brush up and we congregate in the foyer of the hotel and walk to the venue.I always have a slight feeling of trepidation when going to a foreign venue. In the UK I’ve been visiting most of the number one touring venues at least once a year for years, sometimes I’ve been back a few times in the same year. You know what to expect, you know the people and we have an understanding of each other. When you’re abroad, it’s not just the language that is a barrier, its people’s methods too. We all do things in different ways, and everything takes much longer to achieve then you would wish.

We got to the venue just as Jimmy Kirk our amazing driver had arrived from Leeds, having left late on Sunday evening, three days before. Jimmy is without exception the best driver it has been my pleasure to work with, a vital part of Northern Ballet Theatres Technical operation.

We were met by several of the Italian technicians, and the Stage Department struck gold straight away with Nico, the local carpenter. He was very helpful, spoke great English and enjoyed our feeble phrase book attempts at speaking his mother tongue.
In fact so good was Nico that we presented him with one of our ratchet spanners by way of a thank you for all his efforts.

It was as well Nico was a helpful fellow as the first problem was minutes away. As Jimmy reversed the trailer in, it became obvious that it was two big to fit through the gates to the theatre and so everything was unloaded and carried from the gates, round the side of the theatre to the loading doors. Not a good start.

The venue, built in the 30s and still with many original features was smaller then we are used to and was quite run down. The Stage Department set about laying the dance floor and checking out the stage masking, whilst the Electrics team began the process of explaining what they wanted to the Italian electricians.

With the floor down and Nico having prepared the masking prior to our arrival we on Stage found ourselves in quite good shape early on, Electrics however were coming up against numerous problems with the local power supply and state of the local equipment. (If you use that power for the stage, there won’t be any lights in the dressing rooms was my favourite of the evening)

We have stringent Health and Safety laws in the UK and it’s only when you see how dangerously other countries operate that you really take appreciate how safe the theatres at home are. With Electrics up against it the Stage Department all became electricians for the rest of the evening and it was a great sense of pride to me to see my team setting about the task so diligently.

With the time fast approaching 10pm and not really having stopped since we left home some 14 hours previously we did what all good theatre people do after work and went to the pub for a well earned pint. The Italians proved to be great hosts and we sat at a street side bar / café for a couple of hours soaking up the atmosphere of Milan and talking through the trials of the day.

Morning brought the sight of Sid Taylor my deputy managing to get through four plates of breakfast, croissants, full fry up, cold meat and cheese platter and then back for more croissants when he realised, there were custard ones as well as the plain ones he had as a starter three courses previously.

We were due in at 11am but made the decision to leave the hotel just after 9am and get in early. Electrics were well into the focus by the time we arrived and we set about dressing the stage and getting ready for class. The dancers arrived for class and we went next door into the adjoining design museum for a coffee. If there’s one thing the Italians know about its coffee. I also managed to get out during class to a local shop near the theatre and pick up some really nice olive oil, flour and semolina flour as I’m a keen cook and really wanted to get some authentic ingredients for my kitchen.

The rest of the day was filled with rehearsals, which we did in reverse order of the performance so that once finished we were set up for the start of the show. Northern Ballet’s rehearsal went well and we smoothed out a few problems, and then set up and rehearsed the other two acts. With about an hour to go we were ready for the show and managed to grab a Panini from the little van outside the theatre, which was good.

The show passed by pretty uneventfully for us, there were a couple of annoying technical hitches and a frantic interval change from Opera North’s piece which involved a band fully miked up onstage back to a clear stage ready for Northern Ballet in just over ten minutes. The dancers of the Company did what they do best and for me stole the show with room to spare. The dancers had had to suffer their fair share of problems during the show and had been treated quite rudely by several people whilst they were trying to keep limbered up for their 10pm performance.

With the show over and in quite a sombre mood we set about the get out and taking everything down and loading it back on the lorry…only no one had the key for the gate, the gate I mentioned earlier that the lorry wouldn’t fit through. So we couldn’t even carry the stuff round to the lorry. Another route had to be found and the shortest route available to us was up a flight of fire escape stairs through front of house out to our now repositioned lorry.

Everyone set about the get out like Trojans and in a little over an hour we were out of the theatre and loaded ready for Jimmy to return to the UK. After a long day like that we all needed a cool refreshing drink and pretty soon the jokes were flowing again and the humour that is a large part of our daily lives had returned.

The morning came and we checked out and wondered around the local area having some more beautiful coffee until it was time for the transport back to the airport.

It was a nice feeling to touch down at Leeds/Bradford airport and as we all departed for home thoughts turned to A Midsummer Night’s Dream fit up on Sunday at Bradford.

Steve Wilkins

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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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Leeds a Milano

October 15, 2008 at 4:25 pm (Company News, Events, Overseas Tour) (, , , , , , , )

Leeds in Milan is a five day festival of commerce and culture, designed to give Leeds businesses the opportunity to showcase their sectors, skills and expertise in Milan. The event is being managed and promoted by Marketing Leeds who recognise that culture is an important part of what Leeds has to offer as a city.Northern Ballet Theatre has been invited to take part in this cultural offering alongside Opera North and Leeds Met University and their anateresa project.

On the flight to Milan

This morning 12 NBT dancers plus support staff set off for Milan. It really is going to be a flying visit. Fortunately Jet 2 fly direct from Leeds/Bradford to Milan so not too early a start. Flight time was only about 2 hours so we arrived at Bergamo airport at about 3.30pm and transferred to our hotel – the Atahotel Fieramilano which took about 45 minutes. Quite a muggy afternoon in Milan – about 23 degrees

The coach journey to the hotel...

After check in, the dancers were free to explore the city whilst the Technicians made their way to the Triennale Theatre to start the fit up. Opera North and Leeds Met are providing the first half of the performance with NBT making up the second half. We will be performing pas de deux from Dracula, pas de deux from Three Musketeers, pas de deux from Nutcracker and Rhapsody in Blue from our Gershwin programme – so quite a diverse offering to show off our range.


A good evening on all fronts. Work in the theatre went well and although there were some issues getting the trailer access to the get in to the theatre, the work was completed on schedule and the Technical Staff were back at the hotel for 11pm. As always, little technical issues to resolve but all bodes well for tomorrow. The Company had various dining experiences but all appeared to be happy with their night out in Milan.

This is where we are staying!!

This is where we would like to be staying (The Four Seasons)

Just for the record, taxi drivers in Milan are a nightmare. Fares are extortionate and they seem to manage to find the most convoluted route to get anywhere!!

Mark Skipper

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Hannah’s diary part III

October 13, 2008 at 11:06 am (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , , , )

Hannah Bateman

Hannah Bateman updates us on news from the tour:

I have just seen it’s a month since I last wrote so I have some catching up to do! The week’s run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse went very well and with hindsight I think I should have appreciated the scale of the WYP stage a little more! The next two venues we took A Tale of Two Cities to were Nottingham and Sheffield and although these are wonderful theatres with very warm audiences, they are not known for their stage size and are also raked (on a slope)!

This production was slightly unusual as we only had two casts. We normally work with three to four casts and the corps de ballet are interchangeable within each one. I only performed in the first cast so I had the rare chance to sit out front and watch the show as an audience member. I tried to sit and watch the show as if it were new to me and not just look at the part I also perform. The only time I was caught out was when I was sat flinching in preparation for the gunshots! I have to say, I really enjoyed the show: I thought it was a very attractive piece, the costumes and the lighting. For us on stage the lighting felt very dark and didn’t allow for much sight beyond the orchestra pit but from out front it looked fabulous and there were moments when Georgina looked like she had been borrowed from the set of a Jane Austen adaptation.

The week after the Playhouse saw us back at base at West Park in rehearsals for The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, for the girls, La Bayadere. We also had a few rehearsals for Rhapsody in Blue from I Got Rhythm, which is one of the pieces we are taking to Milan. David and Yoko weren’t there for the whole of the week as they had both travelled to Slovenia to set David’s Nutcracker. So, while we rehearsed in Leeds for two weeks, David and Yoko were representing NBT in Slovenia and Kenny and Keiko were representing us in Miami. Out of the many couples in Miami, from major companies around the world including the likes of Stuttgart Ballet and Royal Ballet of Flanders, Kenny and Keiko were one of only two couples to be reviewed very warmly in the press. It was a huge accomplishment to be invited there and to be reviews so positively is the icing on the cake. It seems that NBT is becoming internationally recognised, not just for its dancers but also its director and his choreography.

Dan kept us all busy and base with the help of Andria Hall. She is a great coach and soon had all the Snowflakes and Flowers under control, looking clean, crisp and very together. She also worked a lot with the pas de deux couples and I watched a couple of those rehearsals; it still amazes me that we have four couples who can all do the pas to such a high standard – not bad for a company of just 40 dancers, The fouettes at the end of all that work for the girls are so hard and they can all do them so easily and actually make them look fun and exciting! Yi Song has come into his own this season and looks very Prince like – he must have been inspired by the Olympics in his home country. It’s a joy to watch someone’s talent really start to blossom.

Our next venue on tour was Nottingham. I love this theatre as it holds special memories for me. I loved dancing one of the sisters in Beauty and the Beast there in my first year; dancing the Nurse to Chiaki’s Juliet and I also danced my first Juliet there as well. But it is raked so Tuesday tech days are always difficult. You get to the stage after two days off; it’s raked so you know it will take double the time to get back on your legs after the weekend. It’s always amusing spotting the new members faces as they realise they have to negotiate the rake. Some have never been on a rake before and it’s scary at first but you soon get used to it. There will always be those who don’t get affected by it though – oh to be Keiko for a day! Also, because the stage slopes down, you must remember to use the brakes on props. We almost lost Scrooge to the orchestra pit one year as his bed went wheeling down. The audiences in Nottingham, while not huge, were warm and it felt like they were really captured by the piece.

The week after saw us in Sheffield, again a lovely theatre but raked and even smaller than Nottingham. We had to change some entrances and exits of people and props but I think it worked well in the space and provided an intimate experience. Space is so important to dance; it can make the atmosphere cosy or cold and also help or hinder our work. It did feel like we were doing Flintstone runs at times (where you run on the spot imagining you are running a great distance at speed) but Dan assured us we didn’t and he was pleased with the shows.

We are back at West Park now for another week and in full Nutcracker mode as well as keeping A Midsummer Night’s Dream ticking over. Midsummer will see all the new members of the Company on stage and by the time we open The Nutcracker in Hull I am sure they will be feeling a lot more confident and comfortable.

Milan this week for a lucky few of us so I promise to write all about that and I may even test my technology knowledge and try to include some photos! The end of last week saw a photo shoot for Wuthering Heights, Swan Lake and La Bayadere pictures for next season, which will be on us before we know it. In the back of our minds is the thought that this year we will be at home in Leeds for Christmas and not on tour. But that is far off – before that we have over 50 shows of The Nutcracker – that’s a lot of snow!

Till next time. Hannah xoxo

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Next Season Online

October 7, 2008 at 10:26 am (Tour News) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Northern Ballet Theatre  National Tour 2009

Just a note to say that the Tour pages on have been updated with the latest details and information about next season’s productions…

Tour Map

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Looking back at Beijing

October 1, 2008 at 1:08 pm (Learning & Access) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Learning & Access Team have now returned from Beijing and are settling back into the Autumn Tour.  Jo Dean sums up their involvement in the project that was part of the Young Advocates Progamme – Developing the Paralympic Spirit.


The week in Beijing went very well, with our workshops and performance a great success.  The group worked so well together and you could see the confidence of the participants grow over the course of the week.  Their ability to communicate, despite the language barrier was brilliant, using their movement to show each other what they meant.  The group performed really well in the showcase at the end of the week, given the very limited amount of time we had to bring the piece together and rehearse, and the participants seemed to get a real buzz from performing in front of the other Young Advocates.




We all had a wonderful time in Beijing, with so many fantastic opportunities and experiences, from attending the opening of the Paralympic Games at the birds Nest Stadium, to meeting Prince Edward at the Ambassadors reception.  But I think the bit we enjoyed most was getting to know and work with a group of really inspirational young people who were keen to learn and develop their skills, and who created a positive, welcoming and exciting atmosphere throughout the week that shows what a benefit the Young Advocates will be to developing the Paralympic Spirit in their communities.

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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

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:

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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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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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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