Northern Ballet – Beauty and The Beast
Review by Soraya Scrivener
A Prince obsessed with his looks cursed by an evil Fairy, transformed into a Beast, will need to learn to love another and earn her love in return to break the spell. With not a dancing candlestick in sight, I would recommend reading the story online (check out Northern Ballet’s wonderful website) or the programme before the performance, as my inner Disney Princess needed to be pre-warned. Worth noting if you intend to take any young Prince or Princess’s . Sadly I am not sure I would recommend for them for that reason, a more discerning appreciative eye would benefit. Its beauty could possibly be lost or wasted on the very young. However, I did have a fabulous evening, very much impressed by a company brimming with talent and I know this polished creation would entertain the ballet expert and novice alike.
Though a little apprehensive on discovering the music would come from a mixture of composers, the arrangements by John Longstaff truly worked. From the opening of Saint-Saens’ Dance Macabre to the finale it was a feast for the audience. The Northern Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by John Pryce-Jones were faultless in their delivery, though I was rather disappointed by the distraction of some of the orchestra leaving mid act.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn from the programme that Ayami Miyata dancing Beauty was only a junior soloist and Riku Ito as the Beast merely ranked a dancer. Ito oozed turmoil through his ape like movements and some fabulous wild jumps which contrasted with the gentle, elegant Miyata. The highlight of the evening had to be the sublime pas de trois with Beauty, The Beast and Prince, danced by the charming Joseph Taylor. This was a wonderful piece of choreography displaying perfectly the emotions of all three characters. My particular favourites were the dream pas de deux between Miyata’s Beauty and Taylor’s Prince and the playful scene of love blossoming between Beauty and the Beast.
The entire company, all strong technically, the choreography by the wonderful David Nixon OBE kept the audience’s attention with stylised moves that even maids dusting was executed with style and grace. Special mentions must go to Minju Kang who was a delightful La Fée Luminaire (The Good Fairy) in flowing silver and senior artist Hironao Takahashi who played Alfred, a man-servant to perfection.
The audience certainly enjoyed the comic moments when Beauty’s sisters were on stage played by Rachel Gillespie and Mariana Rodrigues. The four Goblin servants contributed much to the light-heartedness of the second act.
The Act Two finale was a joy to watch. The six couples as Wedding Guests danced securely and most splendidly. It was good to see some relatively new dancers being showcased in this small touring company rather than simply dressing the stage as part of a larger company. It is always great to see dancers living their dream not long after seeing them dance at graduation and refreshing to see so many British dancers in the company.
Would I book to see Northern Ballet again? A most definite yes. I urge you to catch this at the Mayflower where it is until Saturday, before continuing its tour.
David Nixon OBE, Artistic Director was excited to talk about Northern Ballet having chosen to return to The Mayflower Theatre for The World premiere of the Little Mermaid from 21 – 23 September 2017. Look no further for Christmas gift ideas, check their website out here.