Bring back the magic!

We began this year celebrating 50 years of Northern Ballet's dedication to creating new and innovative productions with plans to bring two new full-length ballets, Geisha and Merlin to audiences nationwide.

However, in place of celebration, we now find ourselves facing the tremendous strain that the Covid-19 pandemic places upon our ability to create, perform and teach ballet. As a result, our 2020 world première of Merlin has been postponed.

Help us bring back the magic of Merlin

In autumn 2021 our postponed new ballet Merlin will begin its belated world première tour across the UK. Following our nationwide tour, we hope to bring Merlin to the big screen, giving cinema audiences everywhere the opportunity to be part of the magic.

Inspired by the story of the mythical wizard, this epic new production will be choreographed by Olivier Award-winning Drew McOnie (Broadway’s King Kong and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom) in his first collaboration with the Company.

Help the magic of Merlin to finally become a reality.

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Bringing the magic of dance to everyone, everywhere

Our aim is to bring the magic of dance to the widest possible audience.

We tour to theatres nationwide and break down barriers to dance with our outreach work. From touch tours and audio described performances for the visually impaired to school performances and insight workshops, we are committed to making our work accessible to everyone.

Help us get back to bringing Northern Ballet magic into people's lives.

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Making Merlin magic

Here's how your donation will help us to bring back the magic.

Two dancers strike a pose

Pointe Shoes

Each year our dancers use up to 3,000 pairs of pointe shoes collectively.

£40 could equip one of our dancers with a pair of pointe shoes and £15 could buy one pair of men’s ballet flats.

Ballet shoes need to appear as an extension of a dancer’s leg, so it is often necessary to dye individual pairs of shoes to match the various skin tones of our diverse company of dancers. To stain their shoes, the dancers use Aquacolor, a water-based makeup paint, which covers the ballet shoe and any ribbon.

£15 could supply one of our dancers with shoe colour and sponges.


Our Technical team help set the scene for our productions through clever set design, staging and lighting. The process of designing, building and installing a new set takes 12 months, from the start of the project to the opening night performance. For each production, the team also have to consider the size of every venue across the full tour to make sure it can be recreated faithfully each week.

£150 could pay for a scenic artist or carpenter for a day and £800 could buy our Camelot throne to help set the scene. 

Wigs & Make-up

Wigs and make-up bring characters to life and help tie a production to a specific period or setting. Hair pieces which match each dancer’s hair colour are often used to create styles such as buns or ringlets to create a historically accurate impression of how hair would have been worn.

£150 could provide hair extensions to help one of our dancers get into character.

Dancer surrounded by sparks


Costumes play an integral part in helping our dancers get into character. As well as looking fabulous, they must be stretchy, sturdy and sustainable to last for every performance across our national tour. The process from receiving the final design for a costume through to creating and fitting takes over three months.

Each costume costs between £500 and £5,000 to create. Help fund the cost of creating a new costume for one of our legendary characters.


Rachael Canning has been commissioned by Northern Ballet for the first time to create five puppets for our reimagination of this legendary tale.

A donation of £1,000 - £5,000 could fund the creation of one of the puppets needed to help make Merlin magic. 


Merlin will feature a brand-new score by Grant Olding, who works with Northern Ballet for the first time, bringing an injection of fresh ideas and sounds to the Company. For each new ballet, our Sinfonia can have as few as seven rehearsals ahead of opening night.

£3,000 could fund one rehearsal for Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

Dancer in make-up and costume preparation


Illusionist Chris Fisher will create new illusions for Merlin to help make magical performances for audiences to enjoy.

£20,000 could fund the design and creation of all the new magical illusions used in this production. Help fund one element to make Merlin magic.


Every new ballet takes many weeks of rehearsal to create. For each production, at least three casts are needed with dancers learning and rehearsing numerous roles, often alongside performances of other Northern Ballet repertoire.

£27,500 raised could fund one week of rehearsals for this exciting new ballet.

Access for All

Every year our Learning team run many different outreach projects, school workshops, classes and courses to engage people in dance from all walks of life. Alongside our tour, we also hold a range of activities in theatres such as insight workshops, and touch tours with audio described performances for the visually impaired to make the magic of dance accessible to all. Learn more about our projects.

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If you would like to discover more about the many ways to get involved and support Northern Ballet, please visit our Support Us page or contact Katy Lee from our Development team for a friendly chat by emailing

Photos Guy Farrow, Emma Kauldhar and Lauren Godfrey.