Northern Ballet awarded funding for 3 year programme of ballets for children
Northern Ballet has been awarding funding from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring fund to create a three-year programme of small scale family productions and to tour each to 15 venues across the North of England. Accompanied by an audience engagement programme, the productions will be created to inspire and engage children and families who may not usually access the arts. The award of £385,407, the largest award made to any applicant in this funding round, was announced this week.
Northern Ballet’s new production of Ugly Duckling has already been funded by Leeds Inspired to be performed in Leeds communities and will be accompanied by education activities at duck ponds across Leeds over the summer. The performance will tour around the region before coming to the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre at Northern Ballet’s home in Leeds on 29 October for 14 performances.
Now, with the extra funding from the Strategic Tour Fund, Northern Ballet will be able to extend the tour of Ugly Duckling to a further 15 venues across the North of England next Spring and to create two further ballets for similar tours over the next two years.
Based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, Ugly Duckling is the story of a lonely duckling who doesn’t fit in with her friends. Throughout the ballet, the duckling learns about herself and those around her and when she learns to love who she is she turns into a beautiful swan and begins a happy new life. The ballet is being choreographed by Northern Ballet dancers Dreda Blow and Sebastian Loe.
The colourful production for children aged four and up will feature a host of animal characters including cats, frogs and a fox. The performance time will be 40 minutes in length and the music performed will range from classical compositions to the theme tunes of popular children’s cartoons.
This is the first time Northern Ballet will produce a ballet for young children and the aim is to engage families in theatre, art and music in a fun, lively and approachable way. The two further ballets, titles of which will be announced shortly, will be similar in length and format and will provide a perfect introduction to live performance, music and dance.
Northern Ballet’s Director of Learning, Selina McGonagle, said: ‘It’s at the heart of Northern Ballet’s mission that we create great art for everyone. We regularly challenge preconceptions about dance and ballet in particular by developing new work based on familiar stories and by taking inspiration from popular culture. Northern Ballet already has a terrific series of family ballets such as Beauty & the Beast, Peter Pan and The Nutcracker. We’re thrilled to have been awarded this money to create and tour a new series of ballets for very small children for the first time, and to develop a specific programme of related engagement activities especially for them.’
About Northern Ballet
Northern Ballet is renowned for its full-length narrative productions which embrace popular culture and take inspiration from literature, opera, or give a unique interpretation of classical ballets. The Leeds-based company is committed to touring throughout the UK and overseas, developing new audiences for dance. It has carved a unique place in the UK’s cultural landscape and was voted Britain’s favourite ballet company for three consecutive years at the National Dance Awards.
Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre are based in a centre of excellence for dance in Leeds for dance artists, enthusiasts and audiences across the north of England. Their award-winning headquarters on Quarry Hill in central Leeds is the largest purpose-built space for dance outside London.
Ugly Duckling is an audience outreach project funded by Leeds City Council as part of Leeds Inspired, a Leeds City Council initiative which supports arts, sport and heritage events around the region and offers grants to individuals and organisations for cultural projects. Leeds Inspired is supported by a group of partners including West Yorkshire Playhouse, SAA-UK, Cultivate, Leeds Young Authors, Leeds Initiative, Leeds Met Gallery, Phoenix Dance and Duke Studios.
Yeadon Town Hall
Sat 20 October, 3pm
Sun 21 October, 2.30pm and 4pm
Riley Theatre, Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Sat 27 October, 2.30pm and 4pm
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre
Mon 29 October – Fri 2 November
Performances: Daily at 11am, 1pm and 3pm (except Thursday 1 November when there is no 3pm performance)
Tickets at all venues will cost £4 – £5
Box Office 0113 220 8008 or Theatre Leeds website