Three Short Ballets Review

Cast Doncaster – until 11 September 2019

Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams


Last night Northern Ballet stepped away from its normal productions and presented a fabulous programme of Three Short Ballets, relying on the sheer presence and power of the dancing with no fancy sets or costumes. It was a total eye opener to be able to watch the dancers and see exactly how they moved and their sheer power whether in total stillness or in lifts. Cast was an ideal venue for this production giving it an intimacy and allowing the audience to fully appreciate the dancers’ skill. It was also very clear that the dancers were reveling in the freedom of this performance, their glee clear on their faces in the first two ballets.

The Kingdom of Back” choreographed by Morgann Runacre-Temple was the first ballet telling the story of Nannerl Mozart, Wolfgang’s older sister, a composer and superb keyboard player in her own right but left in the shadows as her brother’s star rose. The music mix for this was totally unexpected and frankly extremely inspired, Bev Lee Harling’s vocal of “Life on Mars” producing goose bumps. The addition of extracts from the family letters helping to tell us the story as we heard “After God comes Papa”, Papa being a driven man. Antoinette Brooks-Daw was a wonderful Nannerl, having all the playful exuberance of a young girl leading to sadness as she is left on the side lines. Javier Torres is a strong stern puppet master as Leopold Mozart pulling the strings of his children. Wolfgang Mozart is danced with puppy dog enthusiasm by Mlindi Kulashe and a total lack of awareness of others. The dancing is superb and unexpectedly funky at times, full of fun and quirkiness. It was over far too quickly for my liking.

Powerhouse Rhumba” choreographed by David Nixon was originally created for Northern Ballet’s 40th Anniversary Gala in 2009 and is indeed a powerhouse. It is a fast moving ensemble piece, giving all the dancers the opportunity to show off their incredible talent, full of jumps and spins and lifts and leaving me in total awe at the skill on show. It was also wonderful to see the men showcased so well and not just as a foil for their partners. Again this was over far too quickly for me.

The final ballet was “For an Instant” choreographed by Amaury Lebrun, starting with a heartbeat this was a total contrast to the previous ballets, sombre and serious with a backdrop of black, showing us the fleeting aspects of life and humanity. The piece at times swirled and at times was still, the dancers as one with the music and at all times it was absolutely beautiful to watch. This was literally breathtaking and the ending left me stunned. I would have loved this to last longer too!

This was a fantastic night of dancing, away from the usual, full of total contrasts, emotion and amazing skill. It was over far too quickly for me, I would have loved it to last longer. I will be watching out for these type of performances from Northern Ballet as they are limited and frankly a total treat.