Ugly Duckling, Northern Ballet’s first short ballet for small people, will be performed in Leeds this autumn. Supported by Leeds Inspired the project is designed to encourage children to see their first ballet and introduce young families across Leeds to Northern Ballet. Ugly Duckling will be choreographed by Northern Ballet dancers Dreda Blow and Sebastian Loe.
Based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, Ugly Duckling is the story of a lonely duckling who doesn’t fit in with her friends. Throughout the ballet, the duckling learns about herself and those around her and when she learns to love who she is she turns into a beautiful swan and begins a happy new life.
The colourful production for children aged four and up will feature a host of animal characters including cats, frogs and a fox. The performance time will be 40 minutes in length and the music performed will range from classical compositions to the theme tunes of popular children’s cartoons.
Sebastian Loe said, ‘The great thing about Ugly Duckling and other children's stories is that they teach important and timeless values from a young age. The message we want to put across in Ugly Duckling is that we should be confident in embracing who we are and ultimately we should not be afraid of being ourselves.’
To develop the production, Northern Ballet has employed the expertise of families across Harehills and Chapeltown. Selina McGonagle Director of Learning at Northern Ballet said, “Children will assist in the creation of the work to ensure the production is lively and engaging. Ugly Duckling will be made with children for children. The production will be performed with Northern Ballet dancers in communities outside the city centre to give more people access to live theatre.”
Ugly Duckling will be performed in Leeds communities over the summer and will be accompanied by education activities at duck ponds across Leeds. The performance will tour around the region before coming to the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre on 29 October for 14 performances.
Dreda Blow who co-choreographed the production said, ‘According to my parents, I saw my first ballet when I was only two years old and was absolutely riveted! I sat perfectly still, my eyes glued to the stage the entire time. If our production of Ugly Duckling inspires children to start ballet lessons then that's great, but most importantly I hope it awakens in them a love and appreciation for the magic of dance and theatre in general. Sebastian and I want to create a performance rich in personality and humour with lots of impressive, beautiful dancing as well. I can't wait to see the children's reactions on première night!’