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Northern Ballet launches Sponsor a Dancer in style

Published on Thursday 20 October, 2011

This page contains information which may be out-of-date or no longer relevant. It is kept here for archive purposes only.

Our Sponsor a Dancer campaign was launched in style last night (Wednesday 19 October) at a fabulous evening at Mint hotel in Leeds.

Guests watching the performance at Mint Hotel. Photo Lisa Stonehouse.

More than 100 guests – all friends, patrons or supporters of the Company – came together to celebrate Northern Ballet’s achievements over the past year and to help us launch Sponsor a Dancer, our fundraising campaign to bridge the gap left by cuts in government funding.

Julie Charlet & Ashley Dixon as Beauty & the Beast in the costume demonstration. Photo Lisa Stonehouse.Guests enjoyed a drinks reception with opportunities to have their photo taken with dancers and were treated to a breathtaking pre-dinner performance. David Nixon OBE organised a stylish catwalk display of the new costumes for Beauty & the Beast, Martha and Toby performed a section from Cleopatra, Thomas and Seb performed the Chinese dance from The Nutcracker and Julie was beautiful as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Then Toby, Vicky and Ben performed Kenneth Tindall’s short dance created for our summer choreographic showcases – as David Nixon said: “a work which will surely become a part of Northern Ballet’s future.” The performance went down a storm with our guests but most fun was watching the reactions of the Mint hotel guests who were just checking in – I’m sure Mint hotel was at pains to point out they shouldn’t expect such a treat every time they checked in!

Guests enjoyed a two-course dinner where they were joined by Northern Ballet dancers who naturally charmed everyone and looked absolutely stunning out of their normal daily practice clothes (they look pretty good in practice clothes too just in case you were wondering!).

Our dancers arrive for dinner. Photo Lisa Stonehouse.

David Nixon gave a moving account of how important it is to nurture the talent within the Company. He recalled meeting Martha as she was attending the Ballet Met advanced school audition and how her amazing talent shone through so much so that David had to bring her with him when he moved from America to Northern Ballet. He recalled a shy, young Tobias Batley auditioning for Northern Ballet and how he has also grown through the Company to give the amazing performances we know and love, including an exquisite Mark Antony in Cleopatra. He concluded that he needed to see a future full of possibilities and opportunities artistically and for his dancers and urged everyone gathered to sponsor a dancer.

We were also joined for the evening by Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England who gave a rousing speech in support of the arts in general and in Northern Ballet in particular. He thanked everyone for their support and urged them to continue to support the Company, a company which he concluded by saying he believed in.

Tim Hare of James Hare Limited with Toni-Michelle Dent. Photo Lisa Stonehouse.Northern Ballet’s Chief Executive rounded off the speeches by announcing that the Monument Trust and Garfield Weston Foundation had made donations to secure 3 dancers for 2 years and James Hare Limited had become the first corporate sponsor of the campaign and were sponsoring Apprentice Toni-Michelle Dent.

As guests departed they were handed a single rose as a memento of their evening and to remind them of Beauty & the Beast which premieres in Leeds this Christmas.

The event was sponsored by Mint hotel and we’re grateful for their support

Event photos by Lisa Stonehouse

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