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Big Ballet takes flight

Published on Thursday 20 February, 2014

If you’ve been following Channel 4’s Big Ballet last week you saw the dancers starting their training and auditioning for parts in Swan Lake. I tweeted at the time how fantastic the professional Northern Ballet dancers looked and they were almost matched by the splendour of the Northern Ballet studios (some scenes were also filmed at our neighbours Yorkshire Dance). This week, as the Big Ballet dancers prepare to perform their version of Swan Lake, I’m going to rave about our Technical department and our Sinfonia. The Technical team designed and built the set for the Big Ballet Swan Lake and Northern Ballet Sinfonia played live for their performances.

When I asked Andy Waddington, Northern Ballet’s Technical Director, about his experiences of working on the production he gave me this insight: “Working on a very tight timeline and having the restrictions that St George's Hall placed upon us production wise was a challenge. The whole period from initial design of the model box through to performance was 4 weeks. We provided all production based equipment and staff and enabled these wonderful dancers to experience what it is like to perform on the professional stage.”

Andy makes a good point. By surrounding the Big Ballet dancers with world-class facilities and professional collaborators they had a really high quality experience. John Pryce-Jones our Music Director explains further: “It was a really positive experience for the Sinfonia. The participants told us how the live music gave them a huge lift during the performance. It also feeds into the whole ethos of the Company, about providing live music for performances; adding an extra dimension that just isn’t there with recorded tracks.”

I was in the audience for the performances at St George’s Hall in Bradford, joined by many colleagues from across the Company who had watched the Big Ballet dancers over the 5 months they were training and rehearsing in our studios. Also in the audience was our Artistic Director David Nixon, CEO Mark Skipper and dancers Pippa Moore, Victoria Sibson and Darren Goldsmith. The Hall was packed with friends and family of the Big Ballet dancers and they were bursting with pride at the performances of their loved ones. But I won’t spoil the ending for you!

If you’ve been inspired by Big Ballet and you’re visiting Northern Ballet for the first time then welcome, do stop a while and see what we have to offer you - a performance in a theatre near you, perhaps a class in Leeds. If anything, maybe Big Ballet has reminded us that dance is for everybody – whatever shape or size you are. And everybody is welcome at Northern Ballet...

Director of Communications

The views expressed in blogs are those of the author and not necessarily of Northern Ballet.