Before I begin, know that the majority of my knowledge comes from the American TV Series, Dance Moms and watching people awkwardly move like penguins in clubs and bars. Keen to understand the fuss, I attended Northern Ballet’s The Little Mermaid.
Artistic Director David Nixon, who is director, choreographer and costume designer, captured the mystical and yet, lonely world of the famous love story. Every sapphire twirl and emerald shimmer of material – each flicker of light that illuminated and bounced from fish-like tails – evoked a fantastical feeling.
Kimie Nakano’s simple set design added to the haunting of the unrequited love. The use of mirrors alongside clear and translucent materials created a believable ocean-look and unknown to the water. The human land experienced much brighter colours. The moving shapes of the cave and rocks doubled as the ship and a holy place for marriage and celebration. This allowed scene transitions to be very smooth and for the audience to be easily transported from both worlds. Certain scenes introduced a textured and see-through sheet to distinguish the separation between land and sea.
After the first act, I began to understand the attraction of ballet. To delve deep into another realm of life, to only rely on a person’s motions and expressions to tell a story. Reflecting on the show, there were certainly times that scenes were exhausted and the dance lost purpose. Regardless of however many flaws a performance may have, it is clear to me now that ballet will always capture the heart. The hard work that the dancers undertake and the effortless unnatural movements and flexibility. It is this pushing of extremes and ability to go beyond what the body can physically and emotionally do, and continue to go even further; that will always make ballet beautiful.
Abigail Prudames, the little mermaid, was exquisite. Her expressive range demonstrated everything from the naïve and childish behave urs of the creature, to a much more mature and alert awareness in her eyes. Dreda Blow’s expression in particular appeared natural and spontaneous.
What I have learnt from this experience is that attending a ballet is not all I imagined it to be. It is certainly magical, but I did not have to dress fancy, or speak a certain way to fit in. It is just a great deal of emotion on stage; and we can all relate to that.