Sunday, 6 December 2015

Flying the Flag for Manchester - Northern Ballet School's Giselle

Aerial view of Greater Manchester
Author Doc Searls
Source Wikipedia
Creative Commons Licence

On 28 Nov 1969 the Northern Dance Theatre gave its first performance at the University Theatre in Manchester with the Royal Northern College of Music providing the orchestra. The company's first home was a church hall in Moss Side. Coming from Manchester I followed that company's progress with interest even though I lived in Surrey at that time. The first performance of the company that I saw was Gillian Lynne's A Simple Man which celebrated the centenary of the birth of that artist (see also Northern Ballet's A Simple Man 14 Sept 2013) and I have been a fan ever since.

Sadly Northern Ballet loosened its links with Manchester some years ago and is now ensconced in some splendour at Quarry Hill in Leeds, a building it shares with the magnificent Phoenix Dance Theatre. It still performs a season at the Palace Theatre and it is lovely to see the company there but we probably have closer links with English National Ballet for the reasons I gave in my review of that company's Romeo and Juliet (see Manchester's Favourite Ballet Company 29 Nov 2015) or indeed the Birmingham Royal Ballet which visits the Lowry twice a year.

According to the 2011 census Greater Manchester has now overtaken the West Midlands to be the biggest built up area in terms of population (2.6 million as opposed to the West Midlands's 2.4 million) which must make it one of the biggest cities in the developed world without its own world class resident ballet company. There was once talk of refurbishing the Palace and making it the Northern home of the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera before the 2010 general election (see Let's Bring the Royal Ballet to The Factory Manchester 11 Dec 2014) but that idea was dropped by the Coalition government. With the £78 million investment in The Factory promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer we now have a chance of reviving the plan for a Northern home for the Royal Ballet, enticing away an established company from another city as Glasgow did to Bristol or indeed Leeds to us, or, perhaps, even growing our own (see The Factory begins to take Shape 25 Nov 2015).

We are very fortunate in Manchester to host the Northern Ballet School which fairly describes itself as "an international centre of excellence in training for classical ballet and musical theatre." The School incorporates the Dancehouse Theatre a 430 seat auditorium where its performance company, Manchester City Ballet, will perform Giselle between 10 and 12 Dec 2015. Last year Manchester City Ballet performed The Nutcracker which impressed me tremendously (see Alchemy 13 Dec 2014) and I also enjoyed its summer show which I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to see (see Serendipity 10 July 2015).

Northern Ballet School's studios are occupied in the evening by KNT Danceworks which offers a comprehensive range of classes for adults in all genres of dance every day of the week except Sunday. I first started classes there in Aug 2014 (see So Proud of Manchester - KNT Danceworks Complete Beginners Class 29 Aug 2014) and last summer I completed its Swan Lake intensive under the wonderful Jane Tucker who studied at Northern Ballet School and danced with Manchester City Ballet. Doing that course was not easy but completing it was one of the proudest moments of my life (see KNT Beginners Adult Ballet Intensive Swan Lake - Day 1 18 Aug 2015, Day 2 19 Aug 2015 and Day 3 20 Aug 2915). KNT Danceworks staged a splendid show at The Danceworks on 23 May 2015 which really was Better than Eurovision and they are doing another on 30 Jan 2016 in which I hope to perform.

I urge my fellow Mancunians as well as ballet goers everywhere to flock to the Dancehouse in droves for Giselle next week. Tickets are between £10 and £12 and you can book your seat at Ticketline.

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