Northern Ballet | Perpetual Motion | Mixed Bill premiered tonight
Northern Ballet opens its spring tour with Perpetual Motion, the Company’s first programme of short dance pieces performed at its award-winning headquarters.
Tonight saw the premiere of Northern Ballet’s Premier Dancer Kenneth Tindall’s choreographic debut – Project #1. The Mixed Bill continues until 18th February in the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, in Northern Ballet’s centre for dance in Leeds.
Perpetual Motion features a mixture of work from well-established choreographers including Christopher Hampson, who was recently appointed as Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, and Northern Ballet Artistic Director David Nixon OBE. The programme also showcases new talent nurtured by the Company, with the choreographic debut of Northern Ballet Premier Dancer Kenneth Tindall, and a piece by Ballet Master Daniel de Andrade.
I recently sat in on rehearsals for this mixed bill and was very impressed by Tindall’s rehearsal process and inspiring musical choices.
Project #1 is the debut piece from Northern Ballet Premier Dancer Kenneth Tindall. It was originally created for a Choreographic Workshop performance in the summer of 2011 but has now been extended to form part of the Perpetual Motion programme. The piece has been developed by looking at dancers physical attributes and producing choreography which showcases their individuality. Project #1 is set to three different pieces of music including Dinah Washington and Max Richter’s haunting This Bitter Earth.
Kenneth Tindall said, “when I first started dancing professionally I had little interest in choreography but my interest in it has developed during my time at Northern Ballet. This is largely due to the extent dancers are involved in creating new works. David Nixon pushed me to take part in the Choreographic Workshop last year and from there I have not looked back.”
Kenneth Tindall talks about Project #1, his debut choreographic work.
What was the inspiration or thinking behind Project #1?
Project #1 is inspired by movement of dancer’s bodies. When I first started work on the piece I focused on the physical attributes of three dancers – Tobias Batley’s (Premier Dancer) flexibility, Ben Mitchell’s (Dancer) feet and Victoria Sibson’s (Soloist) pliable ribcage. Project #1 now involves six dancers but I have continued to work in the same way, looking at the physical movement quality of each dancer and creating choreography which showcases each dancer’s individual attributes.
Is there a narrative or theme to this work?
Project #1 is not a narrative piece, it focuses on movement. The theme is essentially the DNA imprint of individuals– how we are all simultaneously identical yet radically different.
Did the music inspire the movement or was it the other way round?
I started work on the piece thinking about movement first. When I heard This Bitter Earth by Dinah Washington and Max Richter I knew it was the perfect music to accompany the movement I had created. As I developed the piece I found myself taking inspiration for the music and using movement to communicate the lyrics of the song.
The extended piece now starts with a short piece of music called J by Alva Noto which is an electronic composition and much faster tempo than This Bitter Earth. This is followed by Possibility by Lykke Li which brings everything together and allows themes to run through the whole work.
How do dancing and choreography compare for you?
Dancing stretches you physically whereas choreography is mentally challenging, it has been great for me to be able to see things from a choreographer’s perspective after many years of dancing.
At the moment I am dancing in class and taking part in rehearsals for Madame Butterfly, Perpetual Motion and Rhapsody whilst also leading rehearsals for Project #1. Having to switch between a dancer’s and a chorographer’s mindset is very demanding – I’m going to bed exhausted every night at the moment!
Perptuum Mobile, by Christopher Hampson, is set to Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major and celebrates dancers’ strength with spins, jumps and beats. The piece was Hampson’s first professional choreography and was originally created for English National Ballet. Christopher Hampson describes how the music inspired him to create the piece, “initially I was inspired by the score. I remember I’d been listening to a lot of contemporary music and one day on my way to work I grabbed a CD for my Disc-Man (we’re talking fifteen years ago) and it was of four Bach violin concertos. I began listening obsessively to the one in E Major. I thought I knew it quite well, but every time I played it I heard something new, and I still do today. I began the ballet by wanting to construct and layer movement to make a whole, like Bach does with his composition. I realised that the music never stops, even the slow middle movement has a pulse going through it that pushes the ear to anticipate the next development. So, I wanted the movement to do the same, hence Perpetuum Mobile.”
Northern Ballet Artistic Director David Nixon OBE talks about why Rhapsody in Blue was selected to be part of Perpetual Motion and why he thinks mixed programmes are important in the dance world.
What was the inspiration or thinking behind this piece?
Rhapsody in Blue formed part of an evening around Gershwin music, my last evening creation as director of BalletMet Columbus. The evening was inspired by the music and my fascination around the American love of this composer.
Is there a narrative or theme to this work?
There is no narrative; the form and movement are a response to the music.
Why did you choose this particular piece from the full work I Got Rhythm?
This was actually a suggestion from the dancers, which was very thoughtful. It works well to close the program and looks good on the company. The addition of two pianos and a clarinet provide a very appropriate jazz atmosphere in our intimate studio theatre.
Why do you think it is important for a company to perform a mixed programme?
It is extremely important to perform a mixed programme for a variety of reasons. It is an opportunity for the company and audience to work with and see different styles of dance. Guest choreographers give opportunities to different artists and another direction for dancers to discover themselves. The experience puts the focus on another area of our dance offering and this in turn will inform our core work.
Glass Canon is a high energy and mischievous piece from Northern Ballet’s Ballet Master Daniel de Andrade, who was recently awarded a prestigious Clore Leadership Dance Fellowship. The first part of the piece is set to Tanzt Glassidic which is Moishe’s Bagel’s mischievous take on what of their pieces would sound like if written by famous American composer Phillip Glass. The second piece The McGoldberg’s Jig and Reel has a comedic black and white 1920s cinema feel to it. The music has inspired a dynamic dance piece with cannons of explosive movement. Daniel de Andrade commented, “a real folk and gipsy theme inevitably takes over when listening to music by Moshie’s Bagel, as it is filled with Middle Eastern and Eastern European rhythms. I predictably got infected by this gipsy element with the movement itself and it was also a major influence on the gorgeously detailed costumes, designed by Christopher Giles.”
The programme is rounded off with Rhapsody in Blue, which brings to life this famous Gershwin piece of music, with five couples fusing ballet and jazz. Two pianos and a clarinet provide a jazz atmosphere within the intimate surroundings of the studio theatre. Choreographed by Northern Ballet Artistic Director David Nixon OBE, Rhapsody in Blue forms part of the Northern Ballet production I Got Rhythm, offering audiences a sneak preview before performances of the full production take place at the Leeds Grand Theatre and Norwich Theatre Royal this May. The piece was included in Perpetual Motion after being suggested by dancers as a fitting end to the programme.
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre
Thu 9 – Sat 18 February
Box Office: 0113 220 8008
All Photographs © Cheryl Angear
Kenneth Tindall’s Project #1
Christopher Hampson’s Perpetuum Mobile