A Cinderella Story

Half a century of Northern Ballet's Cinderella

By Northern Ballet

Northern Ballet Theatre perfroms Cinderella at Opera Theatre, Royal Northern College of Music (1982-01-05) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

Take a look at half a century of Cinderella to mark Northern Ballet’s 50th anniversary year.

Production photo from Laverne Meyer's version of Cinderella (1973) by Laverne MeyerNorthern Ballet

November 2019 marked the beginning of Northern Ballet’s 50th anniversary year. Looking back at the history of the Company, there are certain ballets that crop up again and again, all with a certain Northern Ballet twist.

Northern Ballet is renowned for tackling stories in new ways, and this can be seen right back through the Company’s history. So, take a look at how 50 years have covered four very different Cinderellas, choreographed by Laverne Meyer (1973), Robert de Warren (1979), Christopher Gable (1993), and David Nixon OBE (2013).

Suzanne Hywel and Simon Mottram in Laverne Meyer's Cinderella (1973-12-27) by Northern Dance TheatreNorthern Ballet

1973

Laverne Meyer’s Cinderella

Carol Barrett in Laverne Meyer's Cinderella (1973-12-27) by Northern Dance TheatreNorthern Ballet

Laverne Meyer’s Cinderella was the first full-length ballet performed by the Company (then Northern Dance Theatre) and premiered at the Forum Theatre, Billingham, on 24 January 1973.

A ballet in three acts, it is the most traditional version of the fairytale in the Company’s history.

Laverne Meyer's Cinderella Programme Page 1 (1973-12-27) by Northern Dance TheatreNorthern Ballet

The programme for the 1973 production of Cinderella.

Laverne Meyer was Artistic Director of Northern Ballet from 1969 – 1976.

He formed the Company with 11 dancers as Northern Dance Theatre with support from Arts Council, North West Arts and other supporters

Laverne Meyer's Cinderella Programme Page 2 (1973-12-27) by Northern Dance TheatreNorthern Ballet

Carol Barrett was one of the original 11 dancers of Northern Dance Theatre.

Yes you read that right, programmes used to cost the grand total of £0.30!

Cinderella Programme Page 3 (1973-12-27) by Northern Dance TheatreNorthern Ballet

Much like today, Northern Dance Theatre had multiple casts to perform the ballet throughout the run.

Dancers in Laverne Meyer's Cinderella (1973-12-27) by Northern Dance TheatreNorthern Ballet

The ballet was set to music by Robert Stewart, played by a live orchestra, conducted by Christopher Robins and led by Sylvia Cleaver.

Dancers in the carriage scene from Laverne Meyer's Cinderella (1973-12-27) by Northern Dance TheatreNorthern Ballet

Sets and costumes were designed by Michael Holt.

Cinderella Press Cutting - Dancing Times (1973-02) by Dancing TimesNorthern Ballet

A press cutting from Dancing Times about Laverne Meyer's 1973 production of Cinderella.

Cinderella Press Cutting - Manchester Evening News (1973-06-21) by Manchester Evening NewsNorthern Ballet

A press cutting from Manchester Evening News about Laverne Meyer's 1973 production of Cinderella.

Northern Ballet Theatre perform Cinderella at The Palace Theatre, Manchester (1980-12-07) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

1979

Robert de Warren's Cinderella

Promotional photo of Sylvie Guillaumin and Michel Mesnier for Robert de Warren's Cinderella (1979) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

There’s a new Artistic Director in town, Robert De Warren, and in 1979 he decides to create his own version of Cinderella.

It was first performed at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, in December 1979.

Production photo for Robert de Warren's Cinderella (1979) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

De Warren’s version was set in a department store, with the ever-present stepmother trying to stop Cinderella attending a masked ball hosted by Gustav, her bride-groom to be.

Production photo from Robert de Warren's Cinderella (1979) by Kenn DuncanNorthern Ballet

Robert de Warren used music by Johann Strauss for his version.

His original score of Cinderella (Aschenbrödel) was specially composed as his only full-length ballet.

Promotional photo of Tanya Devonshire-Jones in Robert de Warren's Cinderella (1979) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

Peter Farmer created the designs for this production. Keep scrolling to see some of his original costume sketches.

Cinderella by Robert de Warren - Costume sketch (1979) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

The material for the prince's jacket was matte to look the same as the tights.

Cinderella by Robert de Warren - Costume Sketch (1979) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

The fabric samples give a further idea of how detailed and striking the costumes would become.

Northern Ballet Theatre performs Cinderella at Theatre Royal Nottingham (1998-10-06) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

1993

Christopher Gable's Cinderella

Dancers in Christopher Gable's Cinderella (1993) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

Northern Ballet has a new Artistic Director again - Christopher Gable.

Cinderella was a particularly significant ballet under his leadership, as it is the only production he choreographed during his time as Artistic Director.

His version was first performed at the Lyceum, Sheffield, on 27 September 1993.

Lorena Vidal in Christopher Gable's Cinderella (1993) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

Gable’s version of Cinderella told a much darker tale than previous versions, harking back to the Northern European folk story of Aschenputtel, as published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.

Cinderella Programme - Christopher Gable version (1993) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

The programme for Christopher Gable's version of Cinderella.

Gable discusses the metaphors and themes of his version of Cinderella in the programme for the 1998 revival of his production.

Model Box Photo - Christopher Gable's Cinderella (1993) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

The set was designed by Tim Hatley. This model box design shows how the set reflected Christopher Gable's darker interpretation of Cinderella.

Costume Sketch - Christopher Gable's Cinderella (1993) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

The costumes were also designed by Tim Hatley.

Performance Report from Canterbury - Christopher Gable's Cinderella (1993) by Northern Ballet TheatreNorthern Ballet

After each performance, a show report is produced. Here is the show report from the performance of Cinderella on 18 May 1996 at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.

Looks like it was a typical British day for weather – although still popular with tourists!

This performance was also significant as it was dancer Lorena Vidal’s final show with the Company.

Press Cutting from South Yorkshire Times on Christopher Gable's Cinderella (1993) by South Yorkshire TimesNorthern Ballet

A review of Christopher Gable's Cinderella from South Yorkshire Times, 1993

The performance even got a standing ovation from the audience - which included HRH Princess Margaret!

Northern Ballet performs Cinderella at Hull New Theatre (2014-04-02) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

2013

David Nixon's Cinderella

Ballroom scene from David Nixon's Cinderella (2019) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

Northern Ballet’s most recent version of Cinderella is choreographed by David Nixon OBE, the Company’s current Artistic Director.

The production had its world premiere on 17 December 2013 at Leeds Grand Theatre.

Ashley Dixon as the magician in David Nixon's Cinderella (2019) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

A far cry from Gable’s dark cautionary tale, Nixon’s version is a warm, magical reimagining of Cinderella, set in Moscow by a glistening crystal lake.

Northern Ballet's Cinderella: Circus Skills Training Video (2019) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

To achieve the magic in this production, dancers trained with Greentop Circus to learn circus skills which are incorporated into the ballet.

Silver slippers from David Nixon's Cinderella (2014) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

Cinderella’s glass slippers are reimagined as glittery pointe shoes in Nixon's version.

Antoinette Brooks-Daw and Sean Bates in David Nixon's Cinderella (2019) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

Nixon's Cinderella is set to an original score by Philip Feeney, played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

Minju Kang as Cinderella in David Nixon's Cinderella (2019) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

David Nixon OBE also designed the costumes in the production, assisted by Julie Anderson.

Press Cutting for David Nixon's Cinderella - Newcastle Journal (2013) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

A review of Cinderella by David Nixon OBE from Newcastle Journal in 2014.

Cinderella - A Ballet by David Nixon OBE Trailer (2019) by Northern BalletNorthern Ballet

Take a look at the trailer for the current revival of David Nixon OBE's production of Cinderella, touring across the UK in 2019 & 2020.

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