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Northern Ballet - Concerto 6-22, Concertante, The Architect - Leeds - June 2014

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Northern Ballet open their latest mixed programme at the Company HQ in Leeds on Wednesday.  The mixed programme comprises Concerto 6-22, Concertante and the world premiere of Kenneth Tindall's latest work, The Architect.


Here is an interview with Kenny:  http://www.thegayuk.com/magazine/4574334751/INTERVIEW-Kenneth-Tindall---Designing-The-Architect/8259147


Please put your thoughts on the programme on this thread.



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I was one of the privileged audience members at Company HQ last night watching the triple and the premier of Kenneth Tindall's The Architect (more on that in a second!) It was a truly special night, the Company are in superb athletic form and it was a real thrill to be able to see up close in such an intimate setting. For me, this programme highlights the gifts and strengths of the Northern Ballet and pushes them beyond the usual boundaries of narrative classical ballet. It also provided moments of real maturity for the younger dancers, particularly Kevin Poeung who clearly put so much GRAFT into his performance in The Architect. The performances I saw last night were just as thought-provoking as dance theatre but lost no amount of classicism or emotion. I feel so proud of our comapny 'oop narth', they really do belong on the world's stage. And they ALL look and move like Olympians (Mr Nixon really wasn't wrong when he compared his company to panthers!)


Concerto 6-22

I'm not personally much of a Lar Lubovitch fan, I find his movement language just a little too bland and elements of this piece in particular don't really grab and sustain a hold on my attention. It doesn't generate in me much of a response above critical appreciation of his work and of course the appreciation for the dancers. However, even though this piece isn't to my taste the company performed it with such lightness and carefree exuberance. It genuinely was a joy to see them perform, and Hannah Bateman & Dreda Blow were visions of springtime loveliness. Concerto is a natural fit for the elvish and sprightly Rachell Gillespie, she looked like she was having the time of her life dancing it. Matthew Topliss deserves credit for maintaing the energy and elevation in the Allegro/Rondo pieces and the Adagio PDD between Guiliano Contadini and Matthew Koon was my highlight from this piece.



I'm a big fan of van Manen, NDT and Het National Ballet so I had very high expectations for the performance of this piece. Which, as it turns out were actually exceeded. Contemporary pieces like these are often hard for British ballet companies to master, its the subtlety of the intensity needed as apposed to 'mannered' performance that make the diffference between a piece that is well presented to a piece that is performed authentically and hits the mark. Watching Concertante last night I found myself being pulled in to the piece, so that I no longer had any awareness of where I was or even WHO these dancers were. It was a prime example of ability of art to be a catalyst for complete transcendence, and they carried it through into Tindall's Architect. The movement language in this piece is gorgeous, and very 'me', and my favourite moments were 'That' PDD between Tobias Batley and Hannah Bateman and Martha Leebolt's PDD with Giuliano Contadini. Bateman mesmorised me with her challenging, questioning eyes. Batley was everything that you love and everything that you hate about intense relationships. Leebolt, for me, is so much more than a dance actress and in Contadini she had the perfect partner to really express her true artistic ability.


The Architect

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I have been raving on and on about this piece for weeks. Tindall is a true creative, his ideas and movement language are incredibly unique in the UK and the sheer facility of the Northern Ballet dancers gives him full reign for making his creativity a reality. It was everything I wanted it to be and more, I spoke about being pulled into Concertante, well with The Architect Tindall and the 9 dancers performing it reached out with their own hands and pulled me in to the piece from my insides. They didn't let go, either, I'm still having random conversations with myself about some of the themes and ideas that I've seen in the piece (I will cover these in a blog post) and I still feel that I was privy to a very great 'Becoming' last night (to borrow from Thomas Harris!). Movement wise Tindall threw so much into the piece, I've never seen the company dance, interact and perform like that. He gave them a truly 'meaty' piece of work, pushing them to their limits as atheltic dancers and as emotional creatures. The set and the lighting design (Chrisopher Giles and Alastair West, respectively) were spectacular, carving out space and increasing the intensity, and perfectly integrated with the movement language to holistically make this piece gobsmacking. Costume-wise, who knew a unitard could be so impactful and emotive?! The spinal designs on the backs of the male dancers really connected with me, and the visceral red 'wounds' or wombs on the backs of the female dancers' costumes provocatively hinted at what was to become clear in the piece. Brutal, ravishingly beautiful and completley immersive, Architect has really cemented Tindall's position as my favourite British choreographer and I hope that one day I will create and dance in works that have a fraction of his impact.This piece was a genuinely collabrative effort, TIndall sculpted his dancers into a new kind of living, breathing organism. All 9 dancers (Hannah Bateman, Martha Leebolt, Tobias Batley, Kevin Poeung, Dreda Blow, Guiliano Contadini, Joseph Taylor, Jessica Morgan, Nicola Gervasi) deserve special mentions, without them all it wouldn't have been what it was!

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I saw three performances of the mixed programme at Quarry Hill last weekend.


Concerto 6-22 was new to me when I saw it at the Linbury in May.  I loved it then and I loved it even more after 3 more performances in Leeds!  The dancers radiated joy when dancing it and that came over in waves.  I particularly enjoyed Abigail Prudames, Matthew Broadbent and Mlindi Kulashi in the trio - all 3 so exuberant.  Giulano Contadini and Matthew Koon continued to take my breath away in the adagio and I was very moved by Ashley Dixon and Kevin Poeung in the same section.


The performances of Concertante were a tour de force.  Saturday afternoon marked Michela Paolacci's final performance as a company member and her duet with Javier Torres absolutely set the stage on fire.


And so to The Architect.  This is Kenneth Tindall's third commission for Northern Ballet and is his most accomplished to date.  It takes its inspiration from the story of Adam and Eve.  I will say from the outset that the set, lighting and costumes are spectacular.  The unitards are painted with what look like abstract muscles and veins (very subtle - not squeamish!) and the men have a number on the left hand side of the chest.  The first Adam also has what may be a depiction of a DNA stream painted up his spine.


There is a fabric Eiffel-tower line screen at the back of the stage and three tubes coming down from the ceiling.


As the piece starts the tubes begin to move and it becomes obvious that there is a dancer inside each of them, who is then "born" - it's incredibly effective.  The piece moves from birth to the original sin during its course.  There is some truly magnificent visual imagery.  It's not a piece where the dancers flow across the stage but Kenny has a way of moving people that just grabs you in and thrills.  The apple work is quite astounding!


I think if I have any qualms about this piece it is that the transitions between the scenes could be a bit smoother but I am sure these rough edges will be sorted by the time London audiences get to see the work at the Linbury next May.


It goes without saying that the dancers give truly compelling performances.  This is a work that can take multiple viewings and still leave the audience wanting more!


These mixed programmes give members of the public an opportunity to see a different side of Northern ballet and it is a very satisfying thing indeed.  They have been very cleverly programmed to let us see the dancers outside their normal story ballet mode, performing internationally lauded works by choreographers such as Hans van Manen and Lar Lubovitch and bringing their special expertise to them.  The dramatic side of Northern Ballet still shines bright in their interpretations of Concertante and Concerto 6-22 and makes them scintillating to watch.  It is also a privilege to be able to watch Kenneth Tindall growing in stature as a choreographer.


These performances ended a Spring Season that I have found absolutely thrilling.  I have seen some of the best performances I can ever remember by Northern Ballet, in Cleopatra, Cinderella and MSND as well as the mixed programmes.


I would just like to thank everyone at Northern Ballet for giving us such a wonderful season and I hope everyone enjoys their well-earned Summer break.


The Autumn season will be interesting with six dancers having departed and 12 new dancers joining.  I am waiting with bated breath!

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