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  1. The Northern leg opened in York on Tuesday, at the Grand Opera House, a venue new to the company. Although overall successful, the tour was plagued with problems. There were no programmes as those for the North had been sent to the South and vice versa. There were few cast sheets and on the Wednesday evening some of those available were those for the matinee. But by far the worst problem was that at the end of the first ballet on Wednesday night, Delia Mathews had a nasty fall, causing serious injury, and resulting in the cancellation of the middle piece, Kin, in which she was scheduled to take the lead, as Elisha Willis, who had taken that role at the first performance, had already left York and so could not take over. Marion Tait came on stage to explain and apologise and the audience reacted sympathetically. The programme is well balanced, opening with Ashton's Les Rendezvous, still in the garish designs that are at total variance with Ashton's intention. In two performances the leads were reprised by Elisha Willis and Chi Cao but at the final performance Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence took over. Until her fall Delia tackled the tricky choreography fairly confidently and with more Ashtonian style than most of the other dancers. Brandon also impressed with good control and charismatic stage presence. The middle piece is Alex Whitley's Kin, premiered last year and still impressing with its choreographic ingenuity, testing the dancers both technically and emotionally. Although Whitley was at one time a dancer with the company, before moving to Rambert, it is more contemporary than the other pieces in their rep and the dancers respond energetically. The leads at the two performances were Elisha Willis and Joe Caley, and Delia Mathews and William Bracewell. They performed it differently but well but there was regret that Jenna Roberts's injury has prevented her from reprising it. The final piece is that audience favourite, Elite Syncopations. The audience applauded at the start, when the curtain lifts to reveal the band on stage and in costume. Across the three performances many soloists strutted their stuff but the star has to be James Barton, deploying his dramatic flair to the full, and in role at all times, even when other dancers are featured. One innovation this year is a pre-performance talk. Marion Tait, at her most eloquent, and Dominic Antonucci, were clear and enthusiastic, explaining the purpose of the mid-season tour, describing the daily routine of the dancers and talking about their own experience and describing the bill. Everyone found it a fascinating and informative talk.
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