Northern Ballet returns for first post-lockdown live performances

David Mead

Northern Ballet has announced its return to the stage for its first live performances since the initiation of lockdown in March. The company will perform three different hour-long mixed programmes at Leeds Playhouse from October 21-24, 2020 followed by four full-length performances of David Nixon OBE’s Dangerous Liaisons from October 28-31.

The live performances will be the company’s first in more than seven months, the last one prior to lockdown being the world première of Kenneth Tindall’s Geisha.

Although still unable to present its planned repertoire for 2020, Northern Ballet has been working hard with Leeds Playhouse to establish a viable programme to get the company back on stage. With social distancing restrictions continuing to apply to the dancers, musicians and backstage staff, the company has had to select work it can perform whilst respecting the current guidelines, however.

The first mixed repertoire programme will be Iconic Classics on October 21. This will include excerpts from ballet classics including Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Le Corsaire and Giselle.

Pippa Moore and Javier Torres in GisellePhoto Bill Cooper
Pippa Moore and Javier Torres in Giselle
Photo Bill Cooper

A Celebration of Artistic Director David Nixon OBE on October 22 marks 20 years of artistic director David Nixon’s creations for the company including excerpts from The Great Gatsby, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Mermaid.

The final mixed programme, Contemporary Cuts, will be performed on October 23 and 24, and will include excerpts from 1984, I Got Rhythm and a new work by Northern Ballet choreographer in residence Kenneth Tindall.

From October 28-31, the company will perform Nixon’s Dangerous Liaisons in the first revival of this work in ten years. Inspired by the original scandalous novel and acclaimed Hollywood retellings, danced to Vivaldi’s rousing The Four Seasons, Dangerous Liaisons is the bodice-ripping tale of two bored aristocrats as they spin a web of heartbreak and ruin.

With the exception of Contemporary Cuts, all performances will include live music played by members of Northern Ballet Sinfonia. All performances will be performed in full costume but ‘black box style’ without sets.

David Nixon says, “Although we are still far from business-as-usual, we are thrilled to be able to return to the stage and present a significant run of live performances. This year has been incredibly difficult for everyone and the arts is one industry that has been badly affected by COVID-19. It is vital for our dancers to be able to return to performing and we feel fortunate that they are now able to do so. We recognise the challenges faced by our industry in ensuring the safety of staff and patrons and the financial viability of holding performances with reduced socially distanced audiences. So many arts organisations are still fighting for their existence and countless people have been made redundant. We hope that successfully holding our performances will contribute to setting a path for the curtain to lift on more live performance across the UK.

“We don’t know what the coming months will bring for our company, or the industry as a whole. However, we are continuing to liaise with our venue partners and explore more opportunities for live performance in the coming months. For now, we hope our audiences will feel safe and confident to join us at Leeds Playhouse, support our industry and have a brief escape from the uncertainty of the times that dance can so beautifully provide.”

Tickets go on general sale on Tuesday 29 September at 12 noon. To book visit

In line with current government guidelines, audiences will be of limited capacity with social distancing and temperature checks in place. Audiences are also required to wear face coverings at all times.