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Press Release: Northern Ballet announce a new work based on 1984

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2 + 2 = 1984 for Northern Ballet


Published on  Mon 29 September, 2014


Northern Ballet is delighted to announce its next new creation will be 1984, based on George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece and created by guest Choreographer Jonathan Watkins. Experts in passionate storytelling, Northern Ballet’s adaptations of some of the world’s most treasured novels move and inspire more people in more cities across the UK every year than any other ballet company. This dance adaptation of the literary classic will be an eagerly anticipated addition to the Company’s popular repertoire. The World Première of 1984 will take place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds in September 2015 before a major UK tour.


Smothered by a world of 24 hour surveillance in which totalitarianism is taken to new depths, Winston Smith fights back against ‘Big Brother’. Battling against conformity he starts a diary and begins writing his way to freedom but Big Brother is always watching. In a lonely world Winston seeks solace in memories of the past and falls in love. Little does he know his battle against the system will result in his ultimate isolation.


Jonathan has brought together a team of respected and experienced collaborators for 1984. A new score has been commissioned from Tony nominated Composer and Arranger Alex Baranowski, who recently worked with Mercury Prize winning band The xx, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and who worked with Jonathan previously on his dance adaptation of Kes. Sets and costumes will be designed by Simon Daw whose work includes productions with Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Opera House and Rambert Dance Company. Dramaturg Ruth Little, previously Literary Manager of The Royal Court Theatre and Lighting Designer Chris Davey, well known for his work in dance and theatre including collaborations with Matthew Bourne, will complete the 1984 creative team.


Originally from Barnsley in Northern Ballet’s home county of Yorkshire, Jonathan was formerly a First Artist with the Royal Ballet and retired from dancing in 2013. He made his main stage choreographic debut in 2010 with As One and collaborated on the Royal Opera House’s Metamorphosis: Titian in 2012. Jonathan’s dance adaptation of Kes premièred at Sheffield Crucible Theatre in March earlier this year.


Jonathan said, ‘I am extremely excited to be working with this multi-talented company to create my vision of 1984. This literary masterpiece has been a constant inspiration to me and now seems a highly relevant time to consider the possibilities of its thought-provoking story.’


Northern Ballet is committed to creating new full-length ballets which further the Company’s mission to bring new audiences to dance. A recently announced funding increase from Arts Council England means Northern Ballet is now in a position to be able to offer more opportunities for more artists to work with one of the UK’s most loved ballet companies.

David Nixon OBE said, ‘I am delighted Jonathan accepted my invitation to create 1984 with us. He is an exciting talent and I believe, with the support of Northern Ballet, he is ready to take the next step in his journey as a choreographer. I am proud that we produce and tour more new work than any other ballet company in the UK. Our exceptionally talented dancers are the perfect company on whom Jonathan can create his first full-length ballet. It’s incredibly important that we invest in the future of British dance by providing opportunities such as these to young choreographers.’



Notes to Editors

1. For further information on 1984 visit northernballet.com/1984. Social media: facebook.co.uk/northernballet. Twitter @northernballet, please use #NB1984.

2.Northern Ballet is renowned for its full-length narrative productions which embrace popular culture and take inspiration from literature, opera or give a unique interpretation of classical ballets. The Leeds-based company is committed to touring throughout the UK and overseas, developing new audiences for dance. It has carved a unique place in the UK’s cultural landscape and was voted Britain’s favourite ballet company for three consecutive years at the National Dance Awards.

Northern Ballet is a powerhouse for inventive dance. Based in Leeds in a centre of excellence for dance artists, enthusiasts and audiences across the north of England, the Company’s award-winning headquarters on Quarry Hill is the largest purpose-built space for dance outside London.

3. For further information about Jonathan Watkins and to read more about his work visit jonathan-watkins.com. Jonathan is currently creating a new work for Texas Ballet Theatre’s 2014/2015 season premièring at The Bass Performance Hall Fort Worth, Texas in May 2015. He will also premiere a new one act ballet for Ballet Manila in the Philippines in October 2014 to be performed at The Aliw Theatre.  

4. Production Credits – 1984
Choreographer: Jonathan Watkins
Music: Alex Baranowski
Set and Costume Designs: Simon Daw
Lighting Designer: Chris Davey
Dramaturg: Ruth Little
5. 1984 is supported by The Emerald Foundation and The Garfield Weston Foundation. 

Edited by Janet McNulty
Edited to show the "notes to editors" included in the full press release
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Thanks so 'BRISTOLBILLYBOB' for including this item.


Oh, how enticing ..... I so admire David Nixon for bringing in other choreographers .... The progamme he engineered for Northern Ballet in the Lindbury last season was so very exciting ... and showed the Northern Ballet company off to good measure.  One felt the exposure to other choreographic tongues really is helping them grow as a team ... and will, I'm sure, be persuasive with their National audiences.  Theirs is a vital public service.  I so hope they bring this 1984 production to London.  (I also know Alex's musical work ... and it is very imaginative and fine indeed.  He has done excellent scores for the National Theatre, the RSC and the Globe.

Edited by Bruce Wall
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