A look back at more than 20 years of Northern Ballet's history under the leadership of Artistic Director David Nixon CBE.
A New Era
In 2001 Northern Ballet (then Northern Ballet Theatre) appointed Canadian choreographer David Nixon as Artistic Director. David's boundless charisma and talent for storytelling brought new energy to the studio and the Company quickly took on his production of Madame Butterfly.
I Got Rhythm
By 2002 the party was well underway when Northern Ballet Sinfonia joined the stage to create a 'big band' backdrop to glittering dancers and special guest singers in David's jubilant celebration of George and Ira Gershwin's fabulous music.
David's first new creation for Northern Ballet brought Emily Brontë's classic novel to life at Bradford's Alhambra Theatre in 2002 - a fitting tribute to his new Yorkshire home and Northern Ballet's reputation as master storytellers.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
In 2003 David created an Olivier Award-nominated adaptation of the Shakespearean comedy. This spectacular ballet showcased his creative flair not only through bewitching choreography but also his magnificently colourful costume designs.
In 2004 Tchaikovsky's legendary ballet was added to the repertoire - with a Northern Ballet twist of course. David's version centres on the struggles of lead character Anthony - a man scarred by guilt and grief from the childhood loss of his brother at the water's edge.
Later in 2004 the Company performed the seductively scandalous story of bored French aristocrats spinning a web of heartbreak and ruin. Set to Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Dangerous Liaisons would go on to be screened in cinemas across the UK 17 years after it was first performed by Northern Ballet.
Christmas 2004 saw David create another world première with record ticket sales for this family favourite at Leeds Grand Theatre.
Autumn 2005 and darkness comes. The immortal Count is alive! David's spine-tingling production became a staple of his repertoire at Northern Ballet, selling out theatres time and again with many audiences attending in their own gothic costumes.
The Three Musketeers
In September 2006 d'Artagnan and co took Bradford's Alhambra Theatre by storm in another rip-roaring world première. This all-action adventure with a classic romance at its heart picked up an Olivier Award nomination and the M.E.N. Best Dance Award.
In 2006 David's thriving Company won the National Dance Awards' Audience Award for the third year running and the readers of Dance Europe magazine voted him Director of the Year for the second time. In 2007 he took on the ultimate crowd-pleaser.
In 2008 David reimagined the Shakespearean tragedy in Paris in the early years of the second world war.
A Sleeping Beauty Tale
Here David introduces Northern Ballet's Royal Patron HRH The Earl of Wessex to the cast of yet another new creation by the prolific choreographer. In 2010 David's contribution to British dance would be recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours List with the award of an OBE.
In 2010 the Company moved to a new home in Leeds and took the name Northern Ballet. The new era began in style with the world première of David's Cleopatra at Leeds Grand Theatre in 2011, set to original music by Claude-Michel Schönberg (famous for the musical Les Misérables).
Beauty & the Beast
By Christmas 2011 David had created an array of fairytale ballets for all the family, with his new Beauty & the Beast delighting audiences young and old at Leeds Grand Theatre.
The story of the mystical water sprite was only performed for one week in September 2012, but audiences lucky enough to see it at Leeds Playhouse will remember a visually stunning production.
Ballets for Children
In 2012 Northern Ballet premièred Ugly Duckling - the first in a series of ballets for children which would see David's Company bring the magic of live performance to millions of young people across stage and screen.
The Great Gatsby
David's eye for a blockbuster ballet was a hallmark of his success at Northern Ballet and his 2013 production of The Great Gatsby was a sell-out sensation. Richard Rodney Bennett's silky score provides an unforgettable backdrop to the most glamourous party in town.
For the ultimate rags to riches story, David once again teamed up with Composer Philip Feeney (Peter Pan, Hamlet) and Associate Director Patricia Doyle (A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Great Gatsby).
After more than a decade of prolific choreography, David’s later years at Northern Ballet saw him favour the development of younger choreographers like Kenneth Tindall (Casanova, Geisha), Cathy Marston (Jane Eyre, Victoria) and Daniel de Andrade (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas).
The Little Mermaid
David's final choreographic work for Northern Ballet was an instant classic, one of the biggest selling tours in the Company's history.
One of David's proudest moments came in October 2017 when Northern Ballet took to the Royal Opera House stage and gave an exquisite performance of Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Gloria. An unforgettable moment in the Company's history.
Dracula live in cinema
In 2019 Northern Ballet reached a global audience as the Company's filmed productions were shown in cinemas for the first time. On Halloween Dracula was streamed live across Europe from Leeds Playhouse.
One of David's final achievements was to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, overcoming the odds to produce a new full-length ballet, Drew McOnie's Merlin. With the Company's future secured, he made the decision to bring his unforgettable era to an end, stepping down in April 2022.
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