RENOWNED for their bright, modern and moving productions, Beauty & The Beast sees Northern Ballet bring exciting design and contemporary choreography to one of the world’s most famous fairytales.
The Beast himself performs the most acrobatic of moves
The acclaimed production returns from a stint down under, with David Nixon OBE (Artistic Director) at the helm, filled with passionate moves and thrilling sequences (provoking quite a few squeals of awe from the women next to me), bold Art Deco sets (Duncan Hayler) and super-dramatic lighting (Tim Mitchell). With tutu-free costumes displaying a 'new direction in costuming' by maker Julie Anderson, this production wholly reflects the modern and accessible nature of Northern Ballet’s approach to classical work.
Music arranger John Longstaff has curated a perfect collection of music, predominantly from Bizet and Debussy, including the heart-wrenching Clair De Lune, but opening with the well-known and awesome Danse Macabre, by Camille Saint-Saëns. Full orchestral drama is also provided throughout by Poulenc and Glazunov, with The Northern Ballet Sinfonia’s timpani, harp, string section and more snuggled away in the pit at The Grand Theatre, sounding superb.
Edged by two great mirrors, woodland and castles appearing and disappearing from the wings, the scenes lead through introductions, drama and romance. ‘Good fairy’ La Fee Luminaire is omnipresent in an astoundingly beautiful silver costume, swirling and observing her sister’s spell unfold and, ultimately, break.
Northern Ballet combine precise moves and fun choreography, creating light-hearted storytelling akin to an operetta, absolutely appropriate to the production. One particular scene involving bailiffs springs to mind, as well as the ridiculous characters living in The Beast’s castle. In contrast to their lumbering around the stage, The Beast himself performs the most acrobatic of moves, way beyond usual leaps and bounds – a further reflection of the company’s constant foray into the contemporary. But, when the prince and his love duet, there was nothing but classical, atmospheric beauty, calm and romance, and quite a few sniffles from the audience.
Feeling relatively ‘short and sweet’ (just over two hours long) Beauty & The Beast is a superb introduction to ballet, rather than being thrown in to an elongated production of Tchaikovsky, for instance. And, as always, it was great to see it performed on the iconic Gothic-inspired stage of Leeds Grand Theatre.
Beauty & The Beast, Leeds Grand Theatre. Tickets £10.00 - £47.50. Running until Saturday 7 January.