Northern Ballet’s 2023-24 season announcement includes news that New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck will create a new work, her first choreographic commission for a European ballet company. Her new piece will form one third of Generations: Three Short Ballets, a trio of contemporary works created by choreographers from across the generations. Curated by artistic director Federico Bonelli, the triple bill will also feature a UK première by emerging choreographer and Royal Ballet Soloist Benjamin Ella; and Hans van Manen’s contemporary classic Adagio Hammerklavier, the first time the piece has been performed by the company.
Both Peck and Ella expressed their gratitude for the opportunity and how excited they were to be working with the company. Ella adds, “I’m certainly quite new to this craft, but with these fresh eyes and an open mind I feel I have nothing to lose and just so much to learn and explore!”
Generations: Three Short Ballets will be performed at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre in Northern Ballet’s home in Leeds (September 8-16, 2023) and at the Linbury Theatre in London (October 31 – November 2).
The autumn also sees David Nixon’s Beauty & The Beast touring to Nottingham, Newcastle and Norwich, before returning in Leeds in June 2024.
Nixon’s The Nutcracker gets its usual pre-Christmas season at the Grand Theatre, Leeds in December.
Spring 2024 heralds the return of a Northern Ballet audience favourite: Christopher Gable and Massimo Morricone’s Romeo & Juliet. Building on its tradition of storytelling, the company has also commissioned a contemporary response to the Shakespeare tragedy with a new work for 2024 from Olivier Award Winning South African choreographer Mthuthuzeli November, who returns. November previously created Wailers for the company in 2022.
Northern Ballet were one of the first to produce ballets aimed specifically at youngsters, although they are great fun for grown-ups too. Autumn 2023 sees the revival of Dreda Blow and Sebastian Loe’s Tortoise & the Hare. Accompanied by live music, the ballet will be performed at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds (dates to be announced) before transferring to the Linbury Theatre, London (January 27-29, 2024), followed by a full UK tour.
The company champions, supports and guides artists at every stage of their careers, providing accessible pathways into training, developing home-grown artists and platforming national and international choreographic voices. In May 2023, it will launch Sketches, a new choreographic development programme that builds on the previous Choreographic Labs.
Devised by Bonelli, artists at different stages of their careers will have access to mentorship from leading choreographers to experiment with movement, ideas, and storytelling. Seven dancer-choreographers from the company (Wesley Branch, Harris Beattie, Filippo Di Vilio, Katharine Lee, George Liang, Gavin McCaig and Bruno Serraclara) will work with mentors Mthuthuzeli November, Kenneth Tindall, and Sharon Watson to develop new work which they will present to audiences for the very first time, alongside a piece by award-winning Leeds based artist Jamaal Burkmar.
While Northern Ballet tours extensively, the company remains an intrinsic part of the cultural fabric of Leeds, Yorkshire and the North. Under Bonelli’s artistic leadership, it will open up its home and resources, working more closely than ever before with local communities, artists and cultural organisations to help establish Leeds as a creative powerhouse.
As part of that, January 2024 will see the launch of Northern Ballet Late, a new series of after-hours informal ballet evenings at the company’s home in Leeds. The inaugural event will feature a special night of performances, a sneak preview of Romeo & Juliet alongside films, DJs, and a late-night bar.
Participatory inclusive dance is important too. In a company first, dancers from Company and Ability, the company’s weekly dance course for adults with additional learning support needs, join forces in the world première of a new dance film, Every Little Thing Is a Change. Created by director and choreographer Ben Wright, it will première at Expressions, the company’s inclusive dance festival that celebrates the talents of disabled dancers from Yorkshire and beyond.
A new inclusive dance project Rise & Shine, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, will see the company pilot and develop inclusive dance in schools, encouraging and supporting children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities to progress their movement skills and creativity. The project will culminate in the opportunity for the children to perform as part of the Expressions Festival in 2024.
Looking forward to 2023-24, Bonelli says, “I am thrilled to present my first season as artistic director of Northern Ballet and to build upon the extraordinary work that has taken place before me, both on and off the stage.
“At Northern Ballet we tell stories that connect with people and for my first season I have invited some exciting young choreographers to Leeds, to create new stories and share their fresh and compelling perspectives with us. These are presented alongside the revivals of landmark productions that we will take across the country with the hope of introducing a whole new generation of people to the power and beauty of world-class ballet.
“Touring is part of our DNA, however, I am incredibly proud of our place within the wider cultural landscape of Leeds and the North of England. This year, we’re opening up our space and resources and looking forward to collaborating more closely and forging partnerships with our community, local artists and organisations throughout the North.”
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds; May 5, 2023
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds; July 12-13, 2023
Every Little Thing is a Change
Online release, July 14, 2023
Generations: Three Short Ballets
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds; September 8-16, 2023
Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, London; October 31 – November 2, 2023
Beauty & The Beast
Nottingham Theatre Royal; October 4-7, 2023
Newcastle Theatre Royal; November 7-11, 2023
Norwich Theatre Royal; November 21-25, 2023
Leeds Grand Theatre; June 4-9, 2024
Leeds Grand Theatre; November 29 – December 10, 2023
The Tortoise & The Hare
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds; dates to be announced
Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, London; January 27-29, 2024
Northern Ballet Late
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds; January 26, 2024
Romeo & Juliet
Leeds Grand Theatre, Leeds; March 8-16, 2024
Sheffield Lyceum Theatre; April 2-6, 2024
Nottingham Theatre Royal; April 30 – May 4, 2024
Norwich Theatre Royal; May 14-18, 2024
Sadlers Wells, London; May 28 – June 1, 2024