Northern Ballet welcomes ten new dancers to the Company for the autumn season and bids a sad farewell to three popular dancers, well-known to Northern Ballet audiences.
Five additions to the corps de ballet include Jessica Cohen from California and a graduate of the English National Ballet School, Isaac Lee-Baker and Sean Bates, both graduates of the Royal Ballet School, along with Luisa Rocco from Royal Swedish Ballet and Mark Dennis, a graduate of West Australian Ballet.
The Company will take on five apprentices including Mariana Rodrigues from the Royal Ballet School, Olivia Holland and Joseph Taylor, both graduates of Elmhurst School for Dance, and Shanti Mouget from Royal Ballet School of Flanders. Northern Ballet will also welcome Matthew Topliss, a former Northern Ballet Academy student who graduated from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in partnership with Scottish Ballet this summer.
At the end of the summer season three dancers have left the Company to pursue other careers. Premier Dancer Georgina May danced numerous lead roles in her ten years with Northern Ballet and created the roles of Ophelia in Hamlet and Aurora in A Sleeping Beauty Tale, both by David Nixon OBE.
Soloist Martin Bell and Coryphèe Christie Duncan, who were married in 2011, joined the Company in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Martin’s many roles included Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons and Captain Hook in Peter Pan. Christie roles included Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Clara in The Nutcracker and Nurse in Romeo & Juliet.
As the Company reconvenes in late July after the summer break it will comprise a total of 42 dancers. This is the largest the Company will have ever been. The increase is size is due in part to the departure of higher paid dancers at the top end of the Company allowing for more employment at the lower end; the introduction of short term contracts and the successful Sponsor a Dancer Campaign that Northern Ballet launched in October 2011 in response to cuts in public funding of the arts. The campaign – which aimed to retain the Company’s complement of 40 dancers – has garnered huge support and has raised nearly £150k including pledges since its launch.
David Nixon said, ‘As always we are sad to say goodbye to dancers who have been with us for so long and who have been an integral part of Northern Ballet, not just to those who work here but to our audiences all around the country. I would like to thank Georgina, Martin and Christie for all they have done for the Company and wish them every success in the future.
‘This year we are in a unique position to welcome ten new dancers and we very much look forward to having them on board. The cuts in public funding remain a challenge so we can no longer offer all dancers long-term contracts but we will continue to work hard to retain a full company and deliver the very high standard of work for which we’re known and loved.’
Promotions within the Company include Hannah Bateman to Leading Soloist, Tobias Batley to Premier Dancer, Michela Paolacci and Ashley Dixon to First Soloist, Dreda Blow to Soloist and Isabella Gasparini and Giuilano Contandini to Coryphée. Teresa Saavedra Bordes, Abigail Prudames and Kevin Poeung have become 1st Year Corps. Darren Goldsmith will be dancing in the newly created role of Principal Character Artist. Jessica Morgan, Rachel Gillespie, Ben Mitchell, Thomas Aragones and Graham Kotowich have all moved from 4th Year Corps to 5th Year Corps and Antoinette Brooks-Daw has been promoted from 3rd Year Corps to 4th Year Corps. Joshua Barwick and Matthew Broadbent have both become 2nd Year Corps.