Northern Ballet marks 50th birthday with anniversary programme, including three World Premieres

Northern Ballet 50th Anniversary. Photo Guy Farrow

Northern Ballet, one of the UK’s leading dance companies, will celebrate its 50th anniversary from 2019, marking half a century since Founder Laverne Meyer made the case for the creation of England’s first publicly funded ballet company outside London.

Highlights from the year-long anniversary programme include three World Premieres, tours of the Company’s best-loved productions and a series of special events. The programme officially commences on 28 November 2019, fifty years since the Company’s first recorded performance at the University Theatre, Manchester, with the launch of the Company’s first digital archive.

David Nixon OBE, Artistic Director of Northern Ballet comments: Northern Ballet is a truly extraordinary organisation and has endured so many challenges in its history to arrive, 50 years after its inception, as the successful, confident and innovative company that we are today.

Northern Ballet 50th Anniversary ft. Joseph Taylor. Photo Guy Farrow
Northern Ballet 50th Anniversary ft. Joseph Taylor. Photo Guy Farrow

Anniversary Celebration Gala – Saturday 4 January 2020 Northern Ballet’s programme of live events launches with a one-night-only anniversary gala, an evening of performances inspired by the Company’s history featuring guest stars from The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre.

Geisha – World Première – Touring from 14 March 2020 Kenneth Tindall, choreographer of the Company’s acclaimed Casanova, creates his second full-length ballet. Based on a true story, Geisha is the haunting tale of two young women trapped in a world of duty and sacrifice, who can only be saved by a promise from beyond the grave. Geisha will feature original music composed by Alexandra Harwood (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), and an original scenario and dramaturgy by Gwyneth Hughes (ITV’S Vanity Fair).

Merlin – World Première – Touring from 16 October 2020 The second full-length world première will see Drew McOnie make his Northern Ballet debut. The choreographer, whose previous projects include Broadway’s King Kong and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, will create Merlin, a magical spectacle inspired by the story of the legendary wizard. Merlin will feature original music by Grant Olding (One Man Two Guvnors, National Theatre). In addition, Chris Fisher, International Illusions and Magic Associate on Harry Potter & the Cursed Child has been appointed as Illusionist.

Ballets for Children – October 2020 Continuing its pioneering programme of short ballets created specifically for young children, Northern Ballet will première a new children’s ballet, to be announced.

Northern Ballet 50th Anniversary ft. Antoinette Brooks-Daw, Rachael Gillespie and Pippa Moore. Photo Guy Farrow
Northern Ballet 50th Anniversary ft. Antoinette Brooks-Daw, Rachael Gillespie and Pippa Moore. Photo Guy Farrow

Further Programming

  • David Nixon OBE’s blockbusters Cinderella and The Great Gatsby return for national tours.
  • April 2020 will see an exhilarating programme of Three Short Ballets featuring The Kingdom of Back by Morgann Runacre-Temple, Powerhouse Rhumba by David Nixon OBE and For an Instant by Amaury Lebrun.
  • Continuing the Company’s exciting developments in its digital dance offering, Northern Ballet’s popular children’s ballets Ugly Duckling and Goldilocks & the Three Bears will be screened in cinemas nationwide from January 2020.
  • The Company will present three new dance films on its Digital Dance platform, including an original direct to digital creation by Kenneth Tindall.
  • An exhibition of ballet costumes will be shown in Leeds city centre during April and May 2020
  • An exclusive fundraising dinner and performance will take place in Leeds in autumn 2020.