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Northern Ballet mix bill in Linbury at ROH, Nov 2019

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The Kingdom of Back (Morgann Runacre-Temple)

Mamela... (Mlindi Kulashe)

The Shape of Sound (Kenneth Tindall)


Must confess to really enjoying this mixed bill. I can’t give dancers’ names I’m afraid as there was no cast sheet, just a list of names on a screen near the bar. So this just my overall impression.


The Kingdom of Back was based on Mozart’s older sister Nannerl. Here she was trapped in a white square where others dancers had the freedom of the whole stage. The choreography cleverly keep her within this boundary, even with dramatic lifts, either a foot was still in bounds or was placed back there. The final pdd with hear father was glorious, her ‘death’ (my assumption) finally allowing to break free of the white area. I really liked this piece.


Mamela started off a bit dull for me, seemed to be typical modern ‘dance’ (rather than ballet), but as it progressed, to my eyes became more balletic and interesting for it. There was a marvellous pdd towards the end, which merged into a solo for a different male dancer; and as it ended, the rest of the cast emerged in an act reminiscent of McGregor’s Infra. As with the first piece, it was superbly danced


The final piece after the interval was Kenneth Tindall’s Shape of Sound, to the Max Richter version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I like this version of the music immensely and loved what Tindall did with it. My eyes saw influences from Crystal Pite to David Dawson, so right up my street. Lighting occasionally too dark (when is it not these days!) but overall was sensational. Loved the section where all the couples were making ovals or infinity symbols with their arms. A winner of a piece for me


Overall then, a highly entertaining triple bill for me. 

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I just love this mixed programme having seen it previously in Leeds last year and in Newcastle in April.


I find The Kingdom of Back both witty and poignant.  I knew nothing about Mozart's sister till I saw this work last year and I find it really sad that all her compositions have been lost and she had to support her brother's work because she was "the girl".


We had sterling performances from the 2 casts of Antoinette Brooks-Dae/Javier Torres/Mlindi Kulashe and Ayami Miyata/Nicola Gervasi/Joseph Taylor.


Mlindi Kulashe's piece Mamela has grown on me with every performance I have seen.  My take on it is about the stress of modern life with people checking their watches, reading their phones and rushing around from place to place.  I think it highlights the loneliness that dependence on modern technology can bring and I find both the duet and the final solo poignant.  I seem to have seen more in this piece with every viewing.


For me Kenneth Tindall's The Shape of Sound is enthralling.  It is for 14 dancers and the lighting could almost be considered another cast member. I love Max Richter's re-imagining of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Kenny really matches the music with his choreography.  Stylistically I might think he has been influenced by the likes of Jiri Kylian and his choreography is very much to my taste.  On the first night the section for 5 of the gentlemen was greeted with cheers ... quite unusual for NB audiences who are used to watching without applause and then going do-lally at the end!  The synchronised sections were scintillating to watch.  It was great to hear how appreciative the audience were at all the performances.  Sometimes the dancers looked as though they were having to hold back slightly because the Linbury stage is small compared to the stage at NB's HQ in Leeds but that certainly didn't mar my enjoyment of the piece.  


So, a very successful series of 4 performances at the Linbury.

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