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Northern Ballet Mixed Programme – Northern Stage

I’m used to seeing Northern Ballet‘s stunning large scale productions (The Nutcracker, The Little Mermaid) –  this was my first time seeing a Mixed Programme at Northern Stage. Three pieces, three different (and new) choreographers, with the focus more on the dancers than a traditional story and huge sets. 
Northern Ballet Mixed Programme 2019
The Kingdom of Back
Choreographed by Morgann Runacre-Temple, this piece was inspired by the story of Nannerl Mozart, (played by Antionette Brooks-Daw) the talented older sister of Wolfgang (it was the first time I’d heard of her). Her brother wasn’t the only gifted one. Apparently she was the best keyboard player in Europe aged just twelve, but Wolfgang overtook her and her performing career came to an end. Their father, Leopold is portrayed as a bit of a tyrant, demanding more and more of his children musically. Morgann was also inspired by letters written by the Mozart family. The performance really showed Nannerl’s strength in the face of her obsessive father and there were really interesting moments between the three main characters.  Antoinette Brooks-Daw was mesmerising and her strength was evident throughout. The piece really came alive during the ensemble dancing, and I had to stop myself from closing my eyes and drifting off to Mozart and Bach (performed by the Swingle Sisters). I also loved the ending, where the dancers freestyled to harpsichord music. 
Northern Ballet
Antionette Brookes-Daw with Northern Ballet dancers

Choreographed by Mlindi Kulashe, one of the rising stars of the Company (this is his choreographical debut). Born and raised in Cape Town, Mamela means ‘listen’ in Xhosa, his native language. There was a sense of feeling trapped and imprisoned from the start, the music incorporating people’s voices signifying the influences of society on each of us. There was an incredible duet which blew my mind in terms of the technicality and I was really impressed with the lighting and the costumes. 
Fillippo Di Vilio, Matthew Koon and Riku Itu – photo Emma Kauldhar

The Shape Of Sound

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons was some of the first classical music I ever heard, and is used to great effect in the final piece, choreographed by Kenneth Tindall (Northern Ballet’s Artistic Director of Digital and Choreographer in Residence). Vivaldi’s concerti grossi is recomposed by Max Richter.  The movement of the full cast of fourteen dancers is inspired by the seasons themselves, and the human response to those seasons. I was mesmerised throughout the whole piece, not just with the dancing but with the lighting design too (Tindall has a long-term collaboration with Alastair West). There were a couple of falls but they only reminded me of the risks that the dancers take and how far they are pushing themselves, and it made me admire them all the more. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the show. 
Matthew Koon and Riku Ito + dancers – photo by Emma Kauldhar
Minju Kang and Joseph Taylor  – photo by Emma Kauldhar
To find out more about Northern Ballet’s current programme click here
*I received two tickets in exchange for a review 

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