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inside the magazine from Northern Ballet Theatre Issue 4 Autumn 2008

YOKO ICHINO NBT’s influential Ballet Mistress MAKING MOVES Cathy Marston choreographer momentum Support NBT’s new home

A new touring partner, staff movements, forays into fashion and all the latest from NBT.

5 The reviews are in Read reviews of last season’s productions.

6 Yoko Ichino An in-depth interview with our wonderful Ballet Mistress covering her illustrious career.

issue 4 10 Pull-out poster A handy guide to performances and Friends’ events throughout the season.

12 Making moves A profile of Cathy Marston, the choreographer of A Tale of Two Cities.

15 Friends news Celebrating 40 years of NBT and the sky’s the limit for The Nutcracker.

16 New building update Keep up to date with the progress of our momentum campaign and the exciting building project.

17 Growing together The Learning & Access department explain the success of the Symbiosis project.

18 cover image: Georgina May Photo: Merlin Hendy

Here come the boys Dale and Joseph lead the way.

Welcome to a new season of performances and another issue of our fascinating inside. Last year was particularly exciting for the Company with the revival of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the new Nutcracker and the innovative interpretation of Hamlet. Audience support was great for the known and happy titles but unfortunately Hamlet proved less appealing. As a director I have given this a lot of thought because it is essential for the Company’s artistic survival and growth to experiment and work in a variety of styles. Our creativity and depth as artists can only mature and evolve with a range of work. Yes, some people found Hamlet disturbing but the world is full of darkness and as artists we need to move in this world to be more able to beautifully capture the light. It is disappointing to think that so few of our audiences understood this journey or chose to support it. I wish a mechanism existed to discuss this with you.

Photo: Richard Moran


3 NBT news and events

David Nixon Artistic Director NBT

That said, there is much to celebrate. The dancers are in great form, producing extraordinary work and performances. This summer the Company has had the opportunity to create a new work with the gifted choreographer Cathy Marston. It has been a marvellous journey and the resultant A Tale of Two Cities is a beautifully crafted and moving new narrative work. It is a compliment to the creative team and the Company. It has been particularly exciting for me as a director to step back and watch the process and work as a ballet master. To see a different approach and to understand more succinctly the beauty of narrative dance from the outside in. It is my impression that an audience limits its exposure to new narratives because it expects the work to relate too closely to the source and is either turned off because they do not like the title or are disappointed because they expect a replica. A dance narrative is inspired by the source but offers a new perspective while simultaneously offering an alternative

engagement because of the visual and physical language. In watching A Tale of Two Cities we can see at once the essence of Dickens but also the beauty and expression of movement through space to music which tells its own tale. In this issue of inside there is an interview with Yoko Ichino, NBT Ballet Mistress, Curriculum Manager and my wife. It was an honour to dance with Yoko, who was not only a technical wonder but also a dancer with brilliant musicality and spiritual lightness of execution. Even more wondrous is her passion for the art form, her generosity in passing on experience and knowledge and her unique comprehension of science and dance. This year two of her students have received places in full-time study. This is impressive but it is much more so when you consider the journey of these two young men and what Yoko’s method has allowed them to achieve. Our fundraising team has been busy cultivating support for our new building. Thanks to support from Leeds Metropolitan University we have made good inroads into momentum, the campaign to raise the balance of funding of our £12million building. In these days of economic uncertainty we are grateful for your support but we need it now more than ever. momentum must be a success to ensure very bright horizons for the Company in a building that is not only fit for purpose but also inspirational for generations of dancers to come. Many of you will have followed NBT’s quest for a new building over the years and as such I am sure you are as pleased as I am that we are so close to achieving our ambition. This is the last inside while NBT is in its 30s. In 2009 we will reach 40 years and to celebrate we are organising a number of special events and a commemorative performance programme. It will be a very exciting year but before this I hope you enjoy the current season and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes, David Nixon

Hamlet and HRH

Photo: Lisa Stonehouse

NBT’s Patron, HRH The Earl of Wessex, attended a performance of Hamlet in February at Leeds Grand Theatre. He went backstage to congratulate the dancers, musicians, artistic and production teams after the performance.

New tour partner We are delighted to announce a new three-year partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University (Leeds Met) to support our UK tour. It will enable us to continue to deliver the highest quality dance to audiences throughout the UK and will provide Leeds Met students with greater access to ballet performances in the theatre, to dance workshops at the University and an opportunity to work with us on educational projects. You can read further information about the partnership in the next issue of inside.

A warm welcome


We’re very pleased to welcome the following people to the NBT team… Steve Hughes, Company Manager; Steve Wilkins, Chief Stage Technician; Matt Millward, Chief Electrician; Laura Sprake, Assistant Electrician; Daniel Alcock, Flyman; Olivia Dermot Walsh, Deputy Stage Manager; Katie Turner, Assistant Stage Manager; Heather Burtt, Wardrobe Assistant; Janet Myers, Corporate Fundraising Manager; Stephanie Bell, Audience Development Officer; Rebecca Smith, Classical Training Assistant; Chris Hobson, Company Pianist and Sharon Marlow, Costume Supervisor for A Tale of Two Cities.

Victoria Sibson, Martin Bell and Tobias Batley have been promoted to Junior Soloists, Ashley Dixon to Coryphée and, following their apprenticeships, Thomas Aragones, Rachael Gillespie, Ben Mitchell and Jessica Morgan enter the Company as 1st year dancers. Mikhaila Pye has been promoted from Senior Wardrobe Assistant to Deputy Touring Wardrobe Manager and Martin Smith has been promoted from Assistant Electrician to Deputy Chief Electrician.

Dancers who have joined the Company are: Graham Kotowich from the National Ballet School of Canada; James Pickup from the Ballet de l’Opera National de Bordeaux; and Yoshihisa Arai from the Royal Ballet School. We have also welcomed three new apprentices: Rym Kechacha who is a graduate of the Central School of Ballet, and Antoinette Brooks-Daw and Brice Asnar who are graduates of the Royal Ballet School.

Richard Godfrey, Chief Electrician; Alexa Penny, Senior Assistant Stage Manager; Paul Mansfield, Deputy Chief Electrician; Chris Colling, Sound/Electrician; Helen Watkinson, Company Pianist; Amy Hines, Wardrobe Assistant; Dawn Atkinson, Marketing Officer; Angela Stafford, Student Support Administrator; Andy Barker, JADE Fellow and Dancers Chantelle Gotobed, Sarah Kundi and Kieran Stoneley.

We have said a fond farewell to...

New Board members

Artistic Director news

We have appointed four new members to our Board of Directors: Alan Harrison, Director of Information Technology at Yorkshire Water; Denise Jagger, a partner at international law firm Eversheds; Leeds Councillor John Procter and Phil Swallow, Global Managing Director of Quality and Client Satisfaction at Accenture.

The National Ballet of Slovenia has invited Artistic Director David Nixon to recreate his version of The Nutcracker on the Company, which will première on 7 November 2008. The Estonian National Ballet has invited David to recreate The Three Musketeers, which will première in April 2009. This spring David returned to BalletMet, Ohio, to

oversee the revival of his Romeo and Juliet for the Company’s 30th anniversary celebrations. David was identified as one of BalletMet’s 30 Pearls in recognition of his contribution to the Company as a former Artistic Director. David also choreographed Steps to Bach for Ballet Central and formally opened the Latimer Dance Space in London.

A growing family Selina McGonagle, Director of Learning & Access will be going on maternity leave from October. Annemarie Donoghue, Classical Training Manager, will not return from maternity leave but will support our Classical Training students on Saturday’s at West Park. Congratulations to Junior Soloist Ginnie Ray and NBT’s exChief Stage Technician Lee Rook who got married in June. Congratulations to our Stage Manager Chun-Yen Chia and his wife, ex-Principal Dancer, Chiaki Nagao, who are expecting their first baby in October.

Laverne Meyer We were saddened to hear the news of the death of Laverne Meyer, the Company’s founding Artistic Director, on Friday 25 April aged 73. The Company dedicated the final performance of Hamlet at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London to Laverne. David Nixon said,“We are extremely grateful to his pioneering spirit and passion for dance. His legacy lives on in the Company you see now.”

Christopher Gable 23 October is the tenth anniversary of the death of Christopher Gable, NBT’s Artistic Director from 1987 to 1998. We are marking the occasion by dedicating the evening’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford to him. Our 40th anniversary revival of A Simple Man will also be dedicated to Christopher in celebration of his life and his contribution to NBT.

Photo: Bill Cooper

Photo: Lisa Stonehouse

inside: thenews


Our young dancers are excellent! A group of Yorkshire’s finest dancers and musicians took part in excellent!, a unique celebration of the achievements of this country’s most talented young dancers and musicians who are supported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Music and Dance Scheme. The performance took place at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London on 15 July.

Photo: Simon Richardson

14 dance students from NBT’s Centre for Advanced Training, run in partnership with the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, performed a new dance piece choreographed by Sharon Watson who was previously Rehearsal Director for Phoenix Dance Theatre. They performed to music composed by Andrew Stamatakis-Brown and eight Yorkshire Young Musicians.

Photo: Bill Cooper

The new Leeds Museum throws open its doors to the public after months of renovations and preparations this September.The first temporary exhibition in the museum is about dance in Leeds and NBT will feature in a number of ways. Dancer Lori Gilchrist tells her dance journey on screen, Seara’s costume from A Sleeping Beauty Tale will be on display, as will footage from NBT’s productions and some material from our archive. A weekend of performances in Leeds’ Millennium Square marks the occasion with NBT opening the festivities by performing excerpts from The Nutcracker on Saturday 13 September.


Photo: Neil Jarman

Leeds Museum

New building developments We are making good progress with the new building we are creating in partnership with Phoenix Dance Theatre, which will be built at Quarry Hill in central Leeds. We have appointed a participating contractor, the planning application has been submitted, the public art commission is out to tender and we have made inroads into our fundraising campaign, momentum. Read more about the new building on page 16.

Photo: Sean Wilton

Throughout July NBT collaborated with Pyramid of Arts on ‘Breathing Space’, a unique project exploring the benefits of dance and physical movement with a group of eight adults with profound and multiple disabilities.The project, which ran at the Swarthmore Centre in Leeds, was an opportunity for the adults and their carers to enjoy physical activity, live music and increase their mobility and fitness during the ten creative dance sessions.The project was led by Caroline Burn, NBT Dance Education Officer, and Alison Herbert, Arts Worker from Pyramid of Arts, and was accompanied by NBT musician Bill Laurance.

Photo: Alison Herbert

Breathing Space with Pyramid of Arts

Photo: Strategic Design Alliance

inside: thenews

Learning & Access return to China Building on the success of their project with young able-bodied and disabled people in Beijing, our Learning & Access department has been invited to return to China for another project run in partnership with the British Council.The Young Advocates Programme – Developing the Paralympic Spirit – is a five-day forum taking place between 5-11 September. It will see 250 young people from China, Hong Kong and the UK coming together to promote cultural awareness and learn new skills.The project will link the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London. NBT’s Dance Education Officers Caroline Burn and Sophie Alder will lead the project with NBT musician Bill Laurance, supported by Learning & Access coordinator Jo Dean.

Followers of fashion Four of NBT’s dancers took part in a fashion shoot for the Manchester Evening News ahead of performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Palace Theatre in May. Georgina May, Yi Song, Michela Paolacci and David Ward posed in beautiful 1940s costumes from the production, designed by David Nixon, at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, sometimes getting right down to their stylish smalls!

inside: reviewing NBT’s Spring/Summer tour 2008

The reviews are in... NBT’s Shakespeare season saw the World Première of David Nixon’s production of Hamlet, and Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream remained in the repertoire.

Power and influence Hamlet premièred on February 2008 at the Grand Theatre and Opera House, Leeds. It has been seen by 18,982 people at 37 performances across five venues. “…the piece contains some of the most powerfully imagined choreography Nixon has created.” The Guardian, February 2008 “The set and costumes were perfection, brilliantly capturing the dark ambience of Paris under the iron fist of Hitler…” Yorkshire Evening Post, February 2008 “…Nixon has created perhaps one of the greatest male roles in contemporary dance…” Sunday Express, February 2008 “…this Hamlet has a theatrical power and energy that make it thoroughly compelling.” The Mail on Sunday, March 2008

“…this take on the Shakespearean romp is full of warmth and humour, is elegant and athletic, intelligently choreographed and produced – and perfectly executed.” South Wales Echo, May 2008

Tragic love Romeo & Juliet premièred in 1991. In 2008 it has been seen by 5,388 people at seven performances in one venue. “From tip to toe every dancer on the stage conveyed the age-old text in a way which made words redundant.” Rotherham Advertiser, May 2008 “ of the most exciting moments of theatre I have ever experienced.” The Star (Sheffield), May 2008

Romantic comedy of errors A Midsummer Night’s Dream premièred in 2003. In 2008 it has been seen by 29,013 people at 38 performances across five venues. “Northern Ballet Theatre have created many remarkable dance dreams in the past, but David Nixon’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is surely the most special.” Manchester Evening News, May 2008

top: Christopher Hinton-Lewis as Hamlet and Nathalie Léger as Gertrude in Hamlet. Photo: Dee Conway


inside: the big interview

Yoko Ichino “Her presence onstage is considerable...she seems lit from within with a radiance that captures the audience’s attention...and its heart..” On Yoko's performance in David Nixon's Romeo and Juliet, Dance Magazine, September 1998


Some say behind every great man stands a great woman and in David Nixon’s case he wouldn’t disagree. When he decided to leave BalletMet in Ohio, USA, and take up the position of Artistic Director at NBT his wife, the internationally renowned ballerina Yoko Ichino, gave him her full support and joined the Company as Ballet Mistress in 2001. Brought together by their love for ballet, David and Yoko met in 1982 when they were on tour. Off stage they became Mr and Mrs Nixon, while onstage they danced the roles of the most famous ballet couples including Romeo and Juliet. As well as partnering Yoko, David has directly benefited from her unique training methods, applying this to everything he has learnt in his own illustrious career.

Born in Los Angeles, Yoko began dancing for health reasons when she was just six and went on to study with the renowned ballerina Mia Slavenska. She began her professional career in 1972 when she joined the Joffrey Ballet II as an Apprentice. What followed was a career that spanned three decades and is one many dancers can only dream of.“I’ve danced with the best of them and performed countless times for audiences across the world,

including Princes, Princesses and dignitaries. I remember once being flown on Concord straight from a performance of Giselle in Berlin to Toronto to perform in Don Quixote the following day. I nearly missed my plane, I was that tired! “I’ve always been focused. I just wanted to be the best I could be and of course I loved what I was doing.“

Main pic: Yoko Ichino Photo: Merlin Hendy

Now, as the driving artistic force at NBT, David and Yoko spend more time together than many couples.“It’s great working with David,” says Yoko,“We’ve done so much and danced together more times than I can remember. We’ve lived in Germany, Canada, the USA and now England and danced on pretty much every continent”.

Yoko has been partnered by some of ballet’s greatest including the world famous Rudolph Nuryev:“Dancing with Rudi was great. I learnt how to control my nerves at an early stage in my career, otherwise I’d fall apart on stage. What was nerve-racking was that Rudi wouldn’t rehearse so you just had to go on stage and do it!“


inside: the big interview

Left to right: Yoko Ichino in Components at the National Ballet of Canada, Toronto. Photo: courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada Yoko Ichino and David Nixon in Don Quixote with American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. Photo: courtesy of American Ballet Theatre Yoko Ichino and David Nixon in Giselle, Berlin. Photo: Peter Kranich


Yoko has performed with more than 22 dance companies across the world, performing all the famous roles, from the Sugar Plum Fairy to Juliet, and Butterfly in David’s Madame Butterfly, a role he created for his wife. Her passion for the art form is visible in everything she does. Ballet is a way of life:“I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now if I hadn’t taken the path I did. It’s an honour to be able to do something you love every day. “I was never conceited about my success, it’s not a good quality and it doesn’t help you to remain balanced and focused, something you have to be if you want to be a good dancer. I’ve seen glimpses of it in students in the past and I’ve helped them to overcome it.” Since her final performance in 1998, Yoko has continued to develop her gift for teaching with dance companies across the world including Ballet de Monte Carlo, Stuttgart Ballet and Nederlands Dance Theatre to name but a few.

Now as Ballet Mistress at NBT and Curriculum Manager of NBT’s Classical Training School Yoko is keen to develop her holistic approach to training:“I want to teach young dancers to look after their bodies and be confident with technique. I want our dancers to have self-belief and know what’s best for them as individuals, that’s a really important part of my syllabus.” David and Yoko left behind a successful school at BalletMet for the dream of creating a full-time school at NBT.“When we first came over I realised it wasn’t going to be easy. I want to create a school in the North that offers accessible training with equal opportunities for students from all backgrounds, focusing on their individual welfare and making the most of their talents. It’s a real issue in this country if you are based outside London, especially in terms of our school. Students in the North do not get the same opportunities as those in London, that’s just the way it is and it’s really disappointing.”

For the students and Company dancers alike one of the most important things about having Yoko as a teacher is the wealth of experience she brings. It is something that sets NBT’s training in the region apart.“David and I know what it’s like to be in their position, to want something so badly in what can be a really competitive industry, it’s not easy. I think because they know we’ve been through what they are going through now and see what we’ve achieved they understand why we ask for certain things from them. You can push for more from them and they respond well.”

“He and Ichino moved as one,and their dancing seemed as natural as breathing.” On David and Yoko dancing Romeo and Juliet, Dance Magazine, September 1998

So how does such a busy lady unwind? “ We don’t get a lot of time to relax, we work really long hours but when we do get downtime I spend most of it doing regular things like the household chores, reading or watching the TV, especially CSI! “Working together is good fun! David always asks me where I get my energy from but I can never answer him. I don’t know where it comes from, I’m just passionate about ballet.”


inside: friends events

Comedy, tragedy

A tale of two cities Sat 30 August – Sat 6 September (No performance on Sunday 1 September) Leeds, West Yorkshire Playhouse WORLD PREMIÈRE Box Office: 0113 213 7700 Tues 23 – Sat 27 September Nottingham, Theatre Royal Box Office: 0115 989 5555 Tues 30 September – Sat 4 October Sheffield, Lyceum Theatre Box Office: 0114 249 6000

Friends event Sat 27 September Day at the Theatre Nottingham, Theatre Royal


Your pull-out-and-keep guide to NBT’s Autumn / Winter 2008 tour

Tues 21 – Sat 25 October Bradford, Alhambra Theatre Box Office: 01274 432 000 Tues 28 October – Sat 1 November Canterbury, Marlowe Theatre Box Office: 01227 787 787

Friends events Sat 25 October Class, pre-performance talk and lunch Bradford, Alhambra Theatre Sat 1 November Day at the Theatre Canterbury, Marlowe Theatre

Photo: Bill Cooper

Photo: Brian Slater Photo: HANSON

& beyond

Tues 4 – Sat 8 November Hull, New Theatre Box Office: 01482 226 655 Tues 11 – Sat 15 November Woking, New Victoria Box Office: 0870 060 6645 Tues 25 – Sat 29 November Milton Keynes Theatre Box Office: 0870 060 6652 Tues 2 – Sat 6 December Bath, Theatre Royal Box Office: 01225 448 844

Weds 17 – Weds 31 December (No performances on Mon 22,29 & Thurs 25 Dec) Leeds, Grand Theatre Box Office: 0870 848 2701

Friends events Sat 8 November Day at the Theatre Hull, New Theatre Sat 20 December Class, pre-performance talk and festive lunch Leeds, Grand Theatre

Sat 15 November, 11.15am –1.45pm Event with the Friends of Birmingham Royal Ballet Sunderland Empire Class and pre-performance talk, £7 (cheques payable to Birmingham Royal Ballet) Applications and cheques to: Sheila Hitchman, Friends Coordinator, Birmingham Royal Ballet,Thorp Street, Birmingham, B5 4AU by 4 November.

Please note, booking fees may apply

inside: interview

For the first time since David Nixon took over as Artistic Director seven years ago, NBT has invited a guest choreographer to create an entirely new full-length work for the Company. The choreographer in question is Cathy Marston, one of the most gifted dance makers working today. Born in Newcastle, Cathy Marston trained at the Royal Ballet School and was the first Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House. She has toured the UK with her own company, The Cathy Marston Project, and is currently Artistic Director of Switzerland’s Bern Ballet. With NBT she has taken on the challenge of creating a dance version of Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Tale of Two Cities. Here we find out more…

making mov Why did you want to choreograph A Tale of Two Cities? It's been in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do for a long time. I saw a black and white film version of it as a child and it has always stayed with me. pic:the Chiakistory Nagao and as IMain love the great characters in it. A lot of my Butterfly in Madame work concerned with duality – the idea of opposites Photo:shadow Linda Rich characters – and duality is a central theme and Top: Photo: Brian Slater in this novel. How do you work to develop the characters? I often ask the dancers to come up with lists of words to


describe the characters or to define the situation or the moment we’re working on. Sometimes the words can be very dry and other times quite poetic. I might start with a verb, by way of introducing the dancers to this way of working. For example “open” or “whisper”, which are easy enough to portray through movement. Then we abstract them a little so you might open with your foot, or whisper with the nape of your neck. Other times the words might suggest qualities. When we were developing Lorry's character, for example, the words that came up were:“secure, contained, withheld, smooth, level,

oves exact, unhurried”. We also tried to express the phrase “deary me” through movement. Working on a scene between the Marquis and Charles we tried to explore what it is that Charles is feeling. There is a moment when they both look at each other’s hands. Charles is feeling almost revulsion at his own identity; he wants to deny even the blood inside him because he feels it is wrong. I prefer to find images like that – an abstracted physical sense rather than acting out what is going on. When you build up a lot of vocabulary you can see which things stand out and motifs start to develop naturally. As soon as

you start to develop the characters with the dancers they cease to be figures on a page and they develop more of a three-dimensional personality. They become real people rather than the symbolic people they are in the book.

Photo: Adrian Weinbrecht

How have you considered the casting of the dancers? NBT is amazing in how it functions with between two and four casts per production. Normally I would pick one cast but because NBT performs so many times I am aware that the piece has to work with almost everyone so it can’t be about a specific dancer.


inside: interview left: Kenneth Tindall, Georgina May and Martin Bell in A Tale of Two Cities. Photo: HANSON below: Cathy Marston in rehearsals for A Tale of Two Cities. Photo: Merlin Hendy

That’s why I ask everyone to contribute to the development of a particular character. I know everyone is going to perform so many parts in this piece that I want them all to have some ownership of it. It has to come from everyone. All of the work belongs to everybody in the Company. How is the choreography affected by your work with both ballet and contemporary companies? I think I really do mix both languages. Contemporary is a huge word – it can mean anything really. I have a movement language that has always been natural to me. It’s fairly balletic: I use line, generally the feet are pointed but not always turned out. There is quite a lot of floor work, which isn’t found in ballet but then I like to include a lot of high lifts as well. A Tale of Two Cities is more of a ballet than I would make on my own company. I think David Nixon was surprised I was using pointe shoes but I like pointe shoes! Find out more at:


inside: Friends update

Photo: Richard Farley

Celebrating 40 years of NBT

In 2009 we will perform a selection of past and present productions to celebrate our 40th anniversary year. In the past 40 years NBT has grown from a small company of 12 dancers to one with 40 dancers, and become one of the most respected companies in the UK. 2009 will open with a mixed programme of the seminal work A Simple Man (Gillian Lynne), plus Angels in the Architecture (Mark Godden) and the Shades Scene from La Bayadere (Yoko Ichino after Marius Petipa). We will perform this mixed programme, our first mixed programme on a national tour since 2004, alongside a revival of David Nixon’s Swan Lake,Wuthering Heights and Massimo Moricone’s Romeo & Juliet.

The autumn/winter 2009 tour will see the return of David Nixon’s Dracula and Peter Pan as well as the festive favourite, A Christmas Carol. Two special events are planned for December 2009 in our home city of Leeds. We are inviting alumni back to perform alongside current company members, in a unique performance of A Christmas Carol on 5 December. On 12 December, the artists of NBT will be joined by special guests for an anniversary gala performance featuring excerpts of NBT’s and other productions. A number of birthday parties are planned during the year at our regular touring venues.

In appreciation of Kath We were very sorry to hear of the death of one of NBT’s longstanding Friends. Kath Sutheren had been a Friend of NBT for many years and enjoyed many NBT performances and events, following the Company all over the country even in her later years. Mark Skipper, NBT’s Chief Executive says,“I met Kath on a number of occasions and I will remember her as a joyful, warm person with great enthusiasm for NBT and for ballet. She’ll be sadly missed.” Kath’s support of NBT continues however as she was kind enough to leave us a legacy. Mark adds,“We will make sure this money is put to good use and dancers will feel the benefit of her kindness for years to come.” If you would like to find out more about leaving a legacy to NBT please contact our fundraising team at

Up,up and away Manchester Airports Group has renewed its support of NBT and to celebrate four dancers went to the airport dressed as characters from The Nutcracker, much to the amazement of people travelling through the airport. Manchester Airports Group has pledged £40k as part of its arts sponsorship programme. Geoff Muirhead, Chief Executive, said:“We are extremely proud of the partnership we have with NBT and we are honoured to be involved with one of the most prestigious arts organisations not only in the Northwest but in the UK.”

Photo: Ian Howarth

Additional newsletter

inside is a great way for us to keep you informed of what’s going on at NBT and give you a more in-depth insight into our projects and people.We would like to launch an additional Friends newsletter where you share your NBT news with us and the other Friends of NBT.The content of this newsletter will be purely written by you, it may be reviews of NBT performances, anecdotes, memories, or information about events you are attending throughout the season and would like to meet other Friends at. In fact, it can be anything you want to share with other Friends.The newsletter will be published initially twice per year at the start of each season. Please send anything you would like included in the newsletter to Judith Baker, Friends and Events Manager by January 2009 at or write to Judith at the normal NBT address.


inside: Friends update

above: Image of the new building. Photo: The SDA, Leeds City Council’s strategic design alliance with Jacobs Architecture

a new home In two years time Northern Ballet Theatre and Phoenix Dance Theatre will move in together. Our new purpose-built headquarters will be a major new centre for dance in the North with students from Leeds Metropolitan University and eventually, students from our own full-time classical dance school working alongside both companies. Here we update you on progress.

momentum is our fundraising campaign for the new building in partnership with Phoenix Dance Theatre in central Leeds. At the start of the campaign we had £1.5million to raise out of a total budget of £12million. To date we have secured in excess of £840,000 towards the fundraising target with Leeds Met as lead momentum donor, but obviously there is a long way to go. We need your help to close the funding gap. There are several ways of supporting us: Buy a brick: £50 Ballet Barre: £150 Studio Mirror: £250 Name a Seat: £500 Gym Equipment: from £1000 Piano: from £2500 Lighting & Sound Equipment: from £5000 We welcome donations of any size and all donors will be acknowledged in the new dance centre.


An exciting part of the plans for NBT’s capital project is the commissioning of a piece or pieces of public art to be incorporated within the building. All Arts Council England funded Lottery projects require an element of the budget to be spent on artwork and we are working with Leeds City Council’s public arts officer to secure something special for the building. There is a broad brief for the public art commission, it could be anything and use any medium, other than water. There are three potential locations identified by the design team for the installation: the atrium entrance area, the glazing to the south façade, and the projecting balconies to the south façade. The artist is due to be appointed in October.

“Our new building will be a centre of excellence for dance in the North of England,a place that will complement the best dance spaces in the UK.” David Nixon, Artistic Director, NBT

Building progress Wates has joined the project as Participating Contractor and detailed designs are now at an advanced stage. Wates is working closely with the Architects, the Strategic Design Alliance – a partnership of Jacobs Architecture and Leeds City Council’s in-house architectural consultancy – to ensure financial costings remain robust and within budget. The planning application has been submitted with the outcome anticipated in September/October. Work is scheduled to start on site in spring 2009 with occupancy in summer 2010.

Photo: Merlin Hendy

momentum update

Keep up to date with the latest developments in our momentum campaign and building project by visiting

inside: with learning & access

growing together Symbiosis: an interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association especially to the advantage of both.

The project began with NBT working with teachers at Beckfoot School to develop new schemes of work, delivering Year 8 science objectives through dance and Year 8 dance objectives through science. This was followed by a three-day creative lab session for Beckfoot School staff and dance and science specialists to discuss ideas for new ways of teaching science through dance. In May 2007 the project expanded and NBT began working with Year 9 pupils at Beckfoot School. 20 pupils visited NBT for a week-long residency using dance to explore the formation of the earth, galaxies and the big bang theory. The pupils worked with NBT

Dance Education Officer Sophie Alder to create an original dance piece that they performed for peers, family and friends at Beckfoot School on 5 July. The performance was created in collaboration with composer Graham Coatman and performed against animated backdrops created by digital artist Carolyn Mendelssohn.

dance can be created from these concepts, encouraging teachers to explore methods for producing dance material. The DVD includes a separate audio CD of music and visual resources that teachers could build into their own teaching practices. If you would like a copy of the resource please contact NBT’s Learning & Access department.

An interactive DVD,‘Learning Science through Dance and Learning Dance through Science’ was produced as a teaching resource. The DVD, created by all the partners and Innovation North, was launched in July at a conference at Beckfoot School, attended by more than 65 teachers. The DVD is aimed at secondary science and PE/dance teachers and students of dance and science. It covers part of the GCSE Science curriculum, the Earth in the Universe. It demonstrates how scientific concepts can be taught through movement activities and how

Selina McGonagle, Director of Learning & Access said,“Symbiosis has really highlighted the importance of offering young people the opportunity to experience different ways of learning and exploring teaching methods that can bring to life traditional classroom-based subjects in an exciting and innovative way.“

Photo: Brian Slater

For the past two years NBT’s Learning & Access department has been working in partnership with Beckfoot School in Bradford and Leeds Met’s Innovation North on a unique project that utilises dance as a new approach to teaching GCSE Science.


inside:the classical training department

the ballet boys We introduce you to two of the shining stars of the Classical Training department whose dedication and passion will provide inspiration for future generations of dancers. Dale Rhodes and Joseph Poulton graduated from NBT’s Classical Training programme this summer and have taken their biggest ballet steps yet as they pursue their professional dancing dream. Joseph has joined the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance and Dale has joined English National Ballet School. Shining examples of what NBT’s training stands for – accessibility, determination and individual guidance beyond traditional technique – Dale and Joseph have both come a long way already, although each taking very different paths. Dale’s love for dance began at just three years old whereas Joseph’s interest developed a little later from watching his sister in class. The training NBT’s students receive differs from more traditional teaching methods and Yoko Ichino’s holistic approach has left a lasting impression on Dale who dreams of a classical dance career:“I feel like I’ve come such a long way in this last year. To prepare for auditions I’ve been having one-toone teaching with Yoko, which has been the highlight of my training. She’s taught me so much, not just technically but she’s changed my way of thinking. I’m so much more focused now and that’s really helped develop my technique. I know being a dancer is what I want, I know how hard it is but I’m so determined to get there.” Yoko’s unique syllabus looks to develop traditional teaching methods, not only focusing student’s minds on classical technique but also preparing students mentally for full-time training and a career in dance. As well as ballet classes, students take contemporary and jazz classes, study anatomy and learn about a range of career options in the arts. Students are taught how to take care of their bodies and their minds, with a


focus on the best option for the individual student. The training allows students to develop their individual skills beyond ballet technique under the guidance of an expert teaching faculty. Joseph explains,“I love choreography and I’ve been encouraged to develop my passion. Yoko helps us to realise what the best option for us might be. I love classical dance but I also love contemporary and Yoko has helped me embrace my skills and become a better dancer.” Joseph and Dale both feel that being able to live at home whilst training has been a real plus.“Living at home means you have the support of your family and friends and you’re able to have something of a normal life, while doing something you love and still being a teenager,” says Joseph.

“I didn’t feel ready to move away at 11 so NBT has been perfect for me.”Dale. For these young students training with Yoko is a real advantage:“Because Yoko’s been a professional herself it makes the training a lot more realistic, you can see why she asks us to do certain things because she’s been there and done it so you trust her judgement,” says Dale. The move to full-time training is the start of a new chapter for Dale and Joseph and is a significant milestone for NBT’s Classical Training School. For NBT, the graduation of two students with such great potential only makes the Company even hungrier for a full-time school at which dance talent from the North can be nurtured to create the Keiko Amemoris and Hironao Takahashis of the future.

above: Dale Rhodes rehearses. Photo: Darren Goldsmith right: Joseph Poulton in the dance studio. Photo: Darren Goldsmith

inside is published biannually by Northern Ballet Theatre

“We don’t want to leave NBT, we’re so sad it’s all nearly over, it’s just been so amazing.” Joseph Poulton, NBT Classical Training Graduate

Northern Ballet Theatre West Park Centre Spen Lane Leeds LS16 5BE Telephone +44 (0)113 274 5355 Fax +44 (0)113 274 5381 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Councillor Bernard Atha CBE (Chairman) Dr Jo Butterworth Graham Dewhirst Judith Donovan CBE David Forbes Jon Hammond Susie Hargreaves Alan Harrison Denise Jagger Juliet Jowitt Professor Simon Lee Councillor John Procter Phil Swallow ARTISTIC DIRECTOR David Nixon CHIEF EXECUTIVE Mark Skipper MUSIC DIRECTOR John Pryce-Jones INSIDE EDITORIAL TEAM Laraine Penson Ruth Burke-Kennedy Catherine Hall Northern Ballet Theatre is a touring narrative dance company whose distinctive blend of classical dance and theatre is renowned for captivating new audiences. For up to 30 weeks of the year NBT’s company of 40 dancers tour a combination of new work and acclaimed repertory pieces to all four UK countries and overseas.This extensive touring schedule demonstrates NBT’s commitment to providing opportunities for all people to have access to excellence in dance performance and participation. Designed by Andrassy Design 01484 434844

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Charity No: 259140 VAT No: 146 6307 66 Company Registration No: 947096 Registered in England and Wales Company limited by guarantee and share capital Please note that information is correct at the time of publication but is subject to change.

Main pic: Yi Song. Photo: Merlin Hendy

Northen Ballet Inside 4  

momentum Support NBT’s new home YOKO ICHINO NBT’s influential Ballet Mistress Issue 4Autumn 2008 the magazine from Northern Ballet Theatre

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