Arts, OldVenue

Northern Ballet’s Cinderella: Dancers in the Spotlight

Cinderella is the Northern Ballet’s newest production to be gracing the Norwich Theatre Royal stage from 7th to 11th October this year.Full of the magic that makes Cinderellaan everlasting fairy tale, the Northern Ballet’s performance is a dazzling production under the direction of David Nixon. But behind the beautiful scenes created by set designer Duncan Hayler are the long hours of training and dedication from the dancers.

The grace of being a ballerina combined with a classic fairy-tale is a dream for many aspiring young dancers. But in the same way that Cinderella rises through hard work and patience to become a princess, so too do the hardworking determined dancers of the ballet world.

Abigail Prudames is one such dancer who worked her way up to dancing her first principle role in a ballet as grand as Cinderella. Leaving home in Knaresborough at 11 to join The Royal Ballet School in London was the beginning of her journey to become a professional ballet dancer. After balancing dance and academic schooling, she finished ballet school to go on to join the Northern ballet company as an apprentice in 2011. A few years on she has had to learn a variety of different dance roles, which can be a gruelling task.

One of the most impressive talents of ballet dancers is their combining of excellent acting and dance technique through expressive storytelling.Prudames is used to conveying the characters she is given, because as a dancer at the Northern Ballet, you are always acting and conveying the story of your character. Yet with the Northern Ballet’s story of Cinderella, the relationship between Cinderella and the Stepmother is more complex, offering a depth to the characters for the dancers to explore.

Prudames found the role of Cinderella very emotional, showing Cinderella rising from the cruelty of her stepmother to becoming a strong woman that the Prince has to work to prove his love for. Isaac Lee-Baker will be starring alongside Prudames as the Prince. Starting at Brixton Youth Club, he was entranced by a pas-de-deux in his P.E hall through the Royal Opera House educational programme. He went on to join the Royal Ballet School’s Associates Programme, finally graduating to join Northern Ballet in 2012.

Lee-Barker remembers the commitment it took to study dance at a young age saying, “You have to give up quite a lot, but at that age it’s great experience”.He has enjoyed the process of exploring the Prince’s character development, from the start of the production where the prince is “a stuck up guy” to “a flurry of love” when the Prince is entranced by the character of Cinderella.

Something that is very special about this production of Cinderella appears to be that it has been carefully thought about and not just in terms of the classic fairy-tale. As Lee-Barker says, “this Cinderella is far from the traditional tale and is definitely more twisted”. Something both dancers have loved about this new production of Cinderella is the extensive lengths the company have gone to in order to create an original and exciting ballet for the audience. Set in elegant Imperial Russia, the ballet features stunning winter scenes and beautiful ballroom sequences. The Northern Ballet have even called upon the magical talents of Richard Pinner to teach the dancers tumbling, juggling, stilt walking and acrobatics, which the dancers were eager to learn alongside the challenge of learning new skills to perform.

Although there may be no pumpkin and mice turning into an extravagant carriage and horses, this production of Cinderella stands ready to be a magical and dazzling performance.


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