Northern Ballet presents Federico Bonelli’s first season as Artistic Director 2023/24, connecting with people of all ages and backgrounds – from UK and world premieres created by new voices with fresh perspectives, to a classic repertoire revival.
Federico Bonelli, Artistic Director of Northern Ballet: “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. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that ballet has the power to have a significant impact on people’s lives. From our pioneering dance film to our new schools pilot, I am incredibly proud of our commitment to developing and growing our work in inclusive dance, as we continue to challenge ourselves to help make our artform more accessible. We remain fiercely committed to breaking down the barriers to our artform, building inclusive pathways for the next generation of creative voices and connecting audiences of every age, background and lived experience, throughout the country, with unforgettable stories and performances that are accessible to everyone.”
8 – 16 September at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre – Generations: Three Short Ballets, contemporary pieces featuring a world premiere from American ballet dancer and choreographer Tiler Peck – her first choreographic commission for a European ballet company; a UK première by emerging choreographer and Royal Ballet Soloist Benjamin Ella; and the contemporary classic Adagio Hammerklavier by Dutch master Hans van Manen – created 50 years ago, this year this will be the first time the piece has been performed by the Company.
Autumn 2023 will see the revival of Dreda Blow & Sebastian Loe’s Tortoise & the Hare. Performed by members of the Company and accompanied by live music, the ballet will be performed at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds (dates TBA).
From 8 to 16 March 2024 at Leeds Grand Theatre, Northern Ballet will restage their critically acclaimed production of Christopher Gable and Massimo Morricone’s Romeo & Juliet. Breathing new life into this classic piece, Northern Ballet will work with members of the original creative team to bring this much-loved work back into repertoire and present it to audiences around the UK. Building on its tradition of storytelling, Northern Ballet has commissioned a contemporary response to Romeo & Juliet with a new work for 2024 from Olivier Award Winning South African choreographer Mthuthuzeli November. Mthuthuzeli returns to Northern Ballet after creating Wailers for the Company in 2022, this new work will be a storytelling ballet that takes inspiration from the well-known classic.
In May, the Company will launch Sketches, a new choreographic development programme, which will build on the Company’s 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 MBE DL 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.
Classic stories also returning are previously announced productions of David Nixon CBE’s Beauty & the Beast and much-loved Christmas classic The Nutcracker (29 November to 10 December at Leeds Grand Theatre). Set to a hand-picked score of classic music from the likes of Bizet and Debussy, played live by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, Beauty & the Beast will embark on a national tour in Autumn 2023 (4 Oct – 9 June at Leeds Grand Theatre) whilst The Nutcracker returns to Leeds Grand Theatre for Christmas following sell out performances in 2022.
Northern Ballet tours extensively throughout the country, reaching the largest possible audience. However, the Company remains an intrinsic part of the fabric of Leeds, Yorkshire and the North. Under Bonelli’s artistic leadership, Northern Ballet 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 in the North of England.
Cover photograph: Generations: Three Short Ballets. Photograph by Guy Farrow.