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Northern Ballet - Three Short Ballets - Leeds, September 2019

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Thank goodness my ballet-watching drought is over!


Northern Ballet opened its season with a triple bill at the company headquarters in Leeds last Thursday.  I was lucky to catch all 4 performances of this highly enjoyable programme.  It's always a joy to attend performances and other events at Quarry Hill as it is such a welcoming space and the small (200-seater) theatre is intimate.


The performances opened with Morgann Runacre Temple's witty The Kingdom of Back (which can also be seen at the Linbury in November).  It is based around the young lives of Nannerl and WA Mozart and their father Leopold.  Nannerl was also a child prodigy and composer although she was not allowed to progress by her father when she became of marriageable age.


So the piece is full of fun and wit but it also carries a more serious message about how boys were treated compared to girls in days of yore.  As well as the three leading dancers there is a corps of 8 who could all be Nannerl and Mozart.


The ballet opens with Nannerl writing to Mozart when her father appears and there is a stylised handography to show her practising playing (the harpsichord?) with her father.  Mozart appears and she is relegated to second place.


I found the choreography interesting, particularly the interplay between Nannerl and her father and the use of the corps.


There were 2 casts on show and they were both absolutely superb.  Cast 1 is led by Antoinette Brooks-Daw with Javier Torres as Leopold and Mlindi Kulashe as WA Mozart.  Cast 2 is led by Ayami Miyata with Nicola Gervasi and Joseph Taylor.


While the set was changed we were treated to one of 2 recent digital films - Spree on Thursday evening and Saturday matinee and the award winning Silenced on Friday and Saturday evenings.


After the pause we were treated to the fast and furious Powerhouse Rhumba by David Nixon which had been created for the 40th Anniversary Gala in 2009.  It is fast, furious and virtuosic and great fun to watch.  Kevin Poeung was absolutely outstanding in this.


The interval was followed by a brand new piece - Amaury Lebrun's For an Instant which was a delight from start to finish.  The dancers were not on pointe.  It flowed and was full of sensual movements with a couple of fabulous duets and a most sinuous quartet for a lady and three men, solos and ensembles.  I just never wanted it to end!


The whole company looked to be on absolutely sparkling form.


As I knew nothing about Nannerl Mozart before seeing The Kingdom of Back I've just googled her and came up with this article from the Guardian a couple of years ago.  It's made me appreciate the piece even more.  https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/sep/08/lost-genius-the-other-mozart-sister-nannerl


Edited by Jan McNulty
edited to add link to article
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Northern Ballet performed the Kingdom of Back this summer at the Latitude festival, which I thought was excellent as of course it reached a new, wide and youthful audience.  Poor Nannerl was one of many women whose genius was smothered, as you can imagine: Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann come to mind amongst others.  Her brother was, in my view, quite a feminist, as evinced in his letters and in wonderful 'Figaro'.  He tried to persuade her to stand up for herself, but her preference was to be an obedient daughter and she married her father's choice of husband rather than the man she actually loved.

Thank you for the write-up, @Jan McNulty.  

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I also loved this performance at Stanley and Audrey Burton theatre. My favourite piece was For an Instant. All of the dancers were superb, but if I had to choose just one that I couldn’t take my eyes off it would be Harris Beattie. The choreography in For an Instant seemed to suit him perfectly. 

I spotted you there Jan, and would have said hello but you were always occupied speaking to far more important people 😉

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