A Rummage through the archive
The Northern Ballet archives are bulging with posters, photographs and programmes from over forty years’ worth of productions.
From the early days of Northern Dance Theatre in Manchester up to today, here’s a whistle-stop tour through some of the best hidden gems our archive cupboard has to offer.
The Northern Ballet of today in fact started out life under a completely different namesake. Established by Laverne Meyer, who became the company’s first Artistic Director in 1969, the name Northern Dance Theatre seemed the definitive name of choice, so much so that this emphatic poster (left) was created, repeating the company name 18 times (just in case you forgot).
Then, with a new Artistic Director, Robert de Warren, in 1976, a new company name came into play and Northern Ballet Theatre was born.
Here’s a snap of Northern Ballet Theatre, headed by de Warren, for their production of Swan Lake in 1986. In the centre sits Ballet Mistress, Dianne Richards; Artistic Director, Robert de Warren; and Assistant Artistic Director, Jeremy N. Leslie-Spinks.
This year, the company also struck up a prestigious link to ballet icon, Rudolf Nureyev, as he became Artistic Laureate of Northern Ballet Theatre.
Here is Robert de Warren rehearsing for Othello with Marcello Angelini (Othello) and Daniela Buson (Desdemona).
A few years later in 1989, the company were fighting for survival. In the picture below, dancers from the company join new Artistic Director, Christopher Gable, actress Jenny Seagrove and dancer Lynn Seymour, outside the House of Commons.
In a rare personal photograph, away from the business of ballet, here is a picture from Christopher Gable’s 50th birthday party. You may notice a familiar face to the right of the photo: Northern Ballet’s current Chief Executive, Mark Skipper.
In the place of rehearsal photographs, we uncovered this rather novel way of documenting the rehearsal process with these large, colourful sketches. The sketch caption reads: ‘The Creation of Miss Carter Wore Pink. A new production by Northern Ballet Theatre. Artistic Director Robert de Warren. Sketch in the Hall of the Zion Institute, Zion Crescent, Hulme Walk, Manchester’.
And when it comes to posters, things were similarly artistic, featuring glistening colours, intricate sketches and attention-grabbing designs. It’s also interesting to note the cost of tickets on the Aladdin poster (left): from 60p for an evening performance and 50p for a matinee; I’d say that’s a bargain!