As a child I can vaguely remember going to watch Northern Ballet's Romeo & Juliet in 1991 and admit I wasn't sure what to expect. To this day, however, something I can vividly recall is how the chorus in their wonderfully elaborate costumes, alongside Prokofiev's score, absolutely captivated me.
Northern Ballet's dancer, Martha Leebolt was recently awarded the 2010 National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performance for her role as the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons and in Northern Ballet's latest offering,her portrayal of Cleopatra did not disappoint.
In his first season with the company, Javier Torres excelled as Julias Caesar, whilst Tobias Batley drew the audience in to absorb his Mark Antony's fall from grace. Kenneth Tindall's Wadjet, alongside Claude-Michel Schonberg's orchestral score, was an eerie and intoxicating presence throughout. Yet amongst all great lead roles in this company's peformances, there lies an inner core that beats as the heart and sweeps its onlookers along, seemingly effortlessly but with such unification, timing and presence, that were their art to be delivered blindfolded, you'd still know you were watching Northern Ballet. And, it's that immense beat and simultaneous movement amongst the chorus underlying the wonderful solo asides, that as obvious and necessary as they may seem for a ballet, are precisely what this group of artists get so right time and time again.
There's always a real sense of drama in Northern Ballet's shows, which is one of the main reasons I believe David Nixon, with the backing of Patricia Doyle (Dramatic Associate), receive their many plaudits . The live orchestral accompaniment is also a major factor and as ever, the music transported audience and dancer alike, this time to Egypt, Rome and finally the gods. Taking on the Ancients is a tough call, but this was a show befitting of the strong and capable of winning over many as it begins its national tour.
The company will return to the Grand Theatre in Leeds in May with the story of the peasant girl named Giselle, who after her premature death, returns as a ghost to protect her lover from the group of evil female spirits-the Wilis.