Northern Ballet announces 50th anniversary season programme

Northern Ballet has announced details of their 50th Anniversary Programme including three world premières, a star-studded gala and tours of some of the company’s best-loved productions.

World premières in 2020 include Geisha by Kenneth Tindall, Merlin by Drew McOnie and a new children’s ballet. David Nixon’s Cinderella and The Great Gatsby return for national tours. Northern Ballet will also perform a triple bill in Newcastle and tour Mariana Rodrigues’ Little Red Riding Hood nationally.

Marking the start of the Company’s anniversary programme, a 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala at Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday January 4, 2020 will see dancers from some of the world’s leading companies unite in a unique event celebrating Northern Ballet’s 50-year journey. Guest stars from The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre will perform excerpts from Northern Ballet’s repertoire and works connected to the company’s history.

Minju Kang in GeishaPhoto Guy Farrow
Minju Kang in Geisha
Photo Guy Farrow

The first of three world premières sees Kenneth Tindall create his second full-length ballet, Geisha. Based on a true story, is the 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. It will feature original music composed by Alexandra Harwood (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), an original scenario and dramaturgy by Gwyneth Hughes (ITV’s Vanity Fair), set and costume designs by Christopher Oram (Casanova and Disney’s Frozen) and lighting by Alastair West (Casanova).

Geisha will première in Leeds on March 14, 2020, followed by a tour to Sheffield, London, Edinburgh and Cardiff. For information visit

Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batleyin David Nixon's Cinderella Photo Bill Cooper
Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley
in David Nixon’s Cinderella
Photo Bill Cooper

David Nixon’s Cinderella will tour nationally in the spring. With an original score by Philip Feeney, sets by Duncan Hayler, lighting by Tim Mitchell and costumes by Nixon himself, the ballet will tour to Leicester, Milton Keynes and Salford from March to June 2020. For more information visit

David Nixon’s The Great Gatsby returns for a new national tour in the autumn visiting Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield in September and October 2020. For more information visit

The second full-length world première of Northern Ballet’s 50th anniversary season will see Drew McOnie make his first ballet for the company. The choreographer, whose previous projects include Jesus Christ Superstar, Broadway’s King Kong and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, will create Merlin, a spectacle inspired by the story of the great Arthurian wizard.

The ballet will feature original music by Grant Olding (One Man Two Guvnors, National Theatre), a scenario again by Gwyneth Hughes, sets and costumes by Colin Richmond (Grease) and lighting by Anna Watson. Chris Fisher, who worked on Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, has been appointed as illusionist.

Merlin will première in Bradford on October 16, 2020 followed by a tour to Norwich, Newcastle, Southampton, Woking and Leeds. For more information visit

Following the success of the Company’s debut at Newcastle’s Northern Stage this year, Northern Ballet will returns in April 2020 with a programme of featuring The Kingdom of Back by Morgann Runacre-Temple, Powerhouse Rhumba by David Nixon, and For an Instant by Amaury Lebrun. For information visit

Antoinette Brooks-Daw and Javier Torres in The Kingdom of BackPhoto Emma Kauldhar
Antoinette Brooks-Daw and Javier Torres in The Kingdom of Back
Photo Emma Kauldhar

Continuing its programme of short ballets created specifically for young children, Northern Ballet will première a new children’s ballet in October 2020. Details will be announced later but it will follow in the footsteps of the recently announced world première of Little Red Riding Hood (October 2019) by Mariana Rodrigues and that will tour nationally in spring 2020. For updates visit

Artistic director David Nixon 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. I am privileged to be the artistic director as we reach this milestone anniversary and to be continuing the incredible work of all the artists and staff who have gone before us. Our programme of events for our anniversary year showcases Northern Ballet’s strengths in creating new work, reviving some of our most popular productions and making exciting progress with our digital ambitions. As we take our next steps in the Company’s journey, I wish to thank all of our supporters past and present, and we look forward to what the future will bring.”

50th Anniversary Season Performance Listings

50th Anniversary Celebration Gala
Leeds Grand Theatre, January 4, 2020

Leeds Grand Theatre; March 14-21, 2020
Sheffield, Lyceum Theatre; March 24-28, 2020
London, Sadler’s Wells; April 21-25, 2020
Edinburgh, Festival Theatre; May 6-9, 2020
Cardiff New Theatre; May 12-16, 2020

Leicester, Curve; March 31-April 4, 2020
Milton Keynes Theatre; April 28-May 2, 2020
Salford, The Lowry; June 3-6, 2020

Three Short Ballets
Newcastle, Northern Stage; April 17-18, 2020

The Great Gatsby
Leeds Playhouse; September 3-12, 2020
Nottingham Theatre Royal; September 15-19, 2020
Sheffield, Lyceum Theatre; October 27-31, 2020

Bradford, Alhambra Theatre; October 16-17, 2020
Norwich Theatre Royal; October 20-24, 2020
Newcastle Theatre Royal; November 10-14, 2020
Southampton, Mayflower Theatre; November 19-21, 2020
Woking, New Victoria Theatre; November 24-28, 2020
Leeds Grand Theatre; December 8-20, 2020

Little Red Riding Hood
Spring 2020. Details to be announced

New Children’s Ballet
October 2020. Details to be announced