Archive | Dance

‘Nora Invites’ Dance Tour Comes to Yorkshire Dance



Dance duo Eleanor Sikorski and Flora Wellesley Wesley, aka Nora, bring their acclaimed triple bill Nora Invites to Yorkshire Dance on Friday 3rd March.

Nora Invites is a triple bill of work curated and performed by Eleanor Sikorski and Flora Wellesley Wesley. They bring to the stage a bold, hysterical and sublime programme of duets by renowned choreographers Liz Aggiss (BLOODY NORA!), Simon Tanguy (Digging), and Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion (Eleanor And Flora Music).

Burrows’ and Fargion’s piece, Eleanor And Flora Music, overflows with free-ranging, rhythmical dancing, their musical score translated into a playful landscape of touch and synchronicity.

Tanguy’s choreography, Digging, slips between subjects – road trips, plant biology and sexual desire – as dialogue and motion twist the stage into all corners of the imagination.

Aggiss’ finale, BLOODY NORA!, is fiery send up of all who dare patronise the menstruating woman. It is a riot of hormones, competitiveness and female solidarity.

Tickets £10/ £8 available from Yorkshire Dance

0113 243 8765

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Northern Ballet’s ‘1984’ a Winner at National Dance Awards



Northern Ballet was delighted to have been recognised at this year’s National Dance Awards after choreographer Jonathan Watkins won the award for Best Classical Choreography for 1984. Cathy Marston, choreographer of Northern Ballet’s Jane Eyre was nominated for the same award, alongside Anabelle Lopez Ochoa (Broken Wings for English National Ballet), Jean-Christophe Maillot (Taming of the Shrew for Bolshoi Ballet) and Will Tuckett (Elizabeth for The Royal Ballet).

Voted for by the dance section of the Critics’ Circle, Northern Ballet was also recognised in four further categories with nominations for Outstanding Company, Best Male Dancer and Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) for former Premier Dancer Tobias Batley and Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) for former Premier Dancer Martha Leebolt.

This award underlines a highly successful year for Northern Ballet which also saw the Company win the Dance Award at the prestigious South Bank Sky Arts Awards for 1984.

This year Northern Ballet also supported the National Dance Awards by sponsoring the award for Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) which was won by Ching-Ying Chien in Until the Lions for Akram Khan Company.

Looking ahead, 2017 is set to be one of the biggest in Northern Ballet’s history with an unprecedented three full-length World Premières; Casanova (March), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (May) and The Little Mermaid (September). See for details.

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Phoenix Dance Revives Nightlife at the Flamingo at WYP


Nightlife at the Flamingo. Photography by Brian Slater (1)

Phoenix Dance Theatre will open their Spring 2017 tour with a four-night run at West Yorkshire Playhouse. The thrilling programme which marks the end of the company’s 35th year anniversary celebrations features a new commission and a revival of one of the company’s earliest and most iconic works; Nightlife at the Flamingo.

Choreographed by Edward Lynch, who also danced in the original production, Nightlife at the Flamingo premiered in Leeds in 1983, under the Company’s first Artistic Director David Hamilton.

Originally set in an American nightclub, Nightlife at the Flamingo integrated popular culture and modern dance and was performed by five dancers. For this revived anniversary performance it has been re-imagined by Edward Lynch for an intergenerational cast which features ex-Phoenix dancers and current company dancers along with the company’s Youth Academy. Fusing Jazz, Soul and Lindy Hop this dazzling piece captures the atmosphere of a 1940’s American Dance Hall.

Nightlife at the Flamingo. Photography by Brian Slater

Alongside Nightlife at the Flamingo Phoenix present the premier of Calyx the company’s very first internal commission under the directorship of Sharon Watson. Calyx is choreographed by Company Dancer Sandrine Monin who was awarded the commission following the company’s inaugural Choreographers and Composers Lab in 2015. Sandrine’s appointment comes at a time when female choreographers are in the minority, often expressing difficulties in developing their careers as choreographers. Calyx is inspired by and based on the book of poems ‘The Flowers of Evil’ by Charles Baudelaire. The work explores the themes of beauty, desire and decadence.

Beast. Photography by Brian Slater (1)

To complete the programme the company present Beast by Leeds based choreographer and ex company dancer Douglas Thorpe. Beast immerses the audience into the darkest reaches of the mind, using six dancers in a performance that is as powerful and brutal as it is beautiful. Exploring the darker side of the human psyche, Beast’s broken choreography requires extreme strength and articulation, giving the piece an often disjointed and fragmented look. Intimidating and uncompromising, this challenging piece is an unforgettable, captivating piece of theatre.

Beast. Photography by Brian Slater


“In 1989 I was one of the first female dancers to join the Company and it is a privilege to lead the Company in these challenging but artistically vibrant times.” said Sharon Watson. “Recommissioning NightLife at the Flamingo is a nod to the company spirit, and affirms the Phoenix Dance Theatre’s deserved place as prominent agents for change in the arts. It is right that we recognise just how revolutionary the Phoenix phenomenon is and the ground-breaking work the Company’s early members achieved. The commissioning of a new piece by a current Company Dancer is a continuation of this spirit. Many female choreographers have expressed difficulties and frustration as they find it more and more challenging to secure any form of investment to support their careers as choreographers. This is a significant commission, sending a clear message to the dance world that Phoenix is committed to driving diversity in the sector”.

Book online

Box office 0113 213 7700

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Open Days at the Academy of Northern Ballet




The Academy of Northern Ballet is holding Open Days on 22nd, 28th and 29th January for budding young dancers to explore the training programmes on offer at one of the UK’s leading ballet schools. Free to attend, the open days are aimed at children aged 9 -15 and offer the chance for prospective students to meet Academy staff, tour the facilities and take part in taster classes.

The Academy of Northern Ballet embodies a 21st century approach to ballet training, capturing the talent and imagination of individuals and nurturing their passion for dance. It offers a wide range of open classes for anyone from toddlers to adults as well as providing outstanding training for the professional dancers of the future through its Centre for Advanced Training Programme. The Academy of Northern Ballet is the only Centre for Advanced Training Centre in the UK specialising in Classical Ballet, and 100% of its graduates aining have gone on to secure places at top-vocational schools including the Royal Ballet School and English National Ballet School.

Open days for all training programmes will be held with two sessions on 22nd  January (9am -12.30pm & 1 – 4.40pm), and one session on 29th January  (9am – 12.30pm) for those aged 9-15.

The open day on 28th January (9.30am – 3.30pm) is dedicated to the Academy’s Centre for Advanced Training Programmes for students aged 9 -12 interested in pursuing dance as a career. It includes the opportunity to observe Northern Ballet dancers in their daily training class before themselves taking part in a technique class and sessions with teaching staff from the Centre for Advanced Training. There are also boy-only options available which include an energetic class led by former Northern Ballet Premier Dancer Christopher Hinton-Lewis.

The open days are free to attend but booking is essential. For more information and to reserve a place email or call 0113 220 8000.


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Strictly Ballroom – Another Superb Hit for West Yorkshire Playhouse

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

The totally fabulous ‘Strictly Ballroom The Musical’ is at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until Saturday 21st January and, if you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you get a ticket! The show is so funny, colourful, and with great music and dancing. Everyone left smiling from ear to ear after a prolonged standing ovation.

This is the first time that Baz Luhrmann’s musical (which followed on from his play and worldwide best selling film), has been performed outside Australia. A co-production by Global Creatures – the team behind Walking With Dinosaurs, How To Train Your Dragon, and King Kong – and West Yorkshire Playhouse, Strictly Ballroom is captivating for all ages.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production


The show is all about finding the right partner in life. It is the inspiring story of star-crossed lovers from different ethnicities, one a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules to follow his heart. It features numbers such as ‘Love is in the Air’, ‘Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps’ and ‘Time After Time’, as well as several new songs by internationally acclaimed artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

Like millions of dancers across the world, director and choreographer Drew McOnie was inspired by the movie as a young dancer – and recently his dazzling choreography for ‘In The Heights’ earned him the 2016 Olivier Award.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

“I am incredibly excited about the dynamic and diverse company we have put together to create Strictly Ballroom”, said Drew. “It literally comes from all over the world. There was no compromising on casting, and it was very difficult as there had to be a level of authenticity.”

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

The role of Fran is played by Gemma Sutton, who starred in ‘Gypsy’ and ‘The Go-Between’ in the West End. Sam Lips, as Scott, recently starred on Broadway and is making his UK debut. And, two familiar faces from The Playhouse’s 2015 hit musical ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ are Tamsin Carroll and Stephen Matthews who will play Shirley and Doug, Scott’s parents, the ambitious mother who runs the local dance school and her henpecked husband whose past achievements are finally revealed.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

Fran’s father and grandmother are of Spanish origin – a great opportunity to introduce a little flamenco from Fernando Mira, Australia’s foremost flamenco dancer. One of the most touching scenes is with Fran and her grandmother, played by Eve Polycarpou, when they sing ‘Love is a Leap of Faith’.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

Julius D’Silva’s Barry Fife, with his particularly mobile hair-piece, was quite hilarious; Richard Grieve as co-owner of the dance school, was excellent; and Charlotte Gooch as Tina Sparkle….sparkled! The whole cast was superb and the show delighted everyone in the audience.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

“I want people to walk away knowing that they have seen a brilliant story, not solely a dance show”, said Drew. “I would like people to feel inspired and leave with a revised sense of ambition.”

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

I think they certainly did that! Don’t miss this chance to see another great show at The Playhouse. It’s touching, very funny, and you just won’t want it to end!


'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

“We’re thrilled to have such talented and experienced performers at the Playhouse”, said James Brining, Artistic Director, West Yorkshire Playhouse. “We pride ourselves on producing exceptional musical theatre and we are building a reputation for showcasing world-class musicals here in Leeds. Strictly Ballroom follows on from the huge success of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which is still touring nationally.”



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New Art Prize Announced by Opera north and The University of Leeds



The pioneering DARE partnership between the University of Leeds and Opera North has announced a new £15,000 prize aimed at challenging artists and scientists to work together on new approaches to the creative process.

The DARE Prize will be awarded to an innovative, ambitious, early-career artist who is motivated by the opportunity to work in partnership with leading scientific researchers at the University of Leeds.

The successful candidate will be matched with a researcher who shares their vision and can bring knowledge, expertise and networks to support the creation of something new. The winner will be announced in spring 2017 to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the DARE partnership, and the fruits of the year-long partnership will be revealed in March 2018.

There are no restrictions on the form of the outcome: depending on the interests of the collaborators and the direction that the work takes, it could be a dance performance, a poem, an interactive website or a cycle of new songs, but the project must be achievable within twelve months. It is expected that around £5,000 of the Award will be invested in the creation of new work.

“The challenges facing individuals and society in the 21st century can appear uniquely complex and chaotic,”, said Dominic Gray, Projects Director, Opera North. “Understanding ourselves and the world we live in calls for new visions and new collaborations. The notion of creativity crosses the false barriers between science and artistic endeavour, and with the DARE Prize we hope to generate new work and new working methods that can bring the sectors closer together.”

Individual, independent artists working in all disciplines are invited to apply by submitting a CV and a 500-word proposition that summarises the area of scientific interest – from astrophysics to climate change, microbiology to nutrition; an ambition to create something new and the germ of an idea of what this might be; and a genuine wish to engage with academic researchers, expertise and resources at the University of Leeds. Access to musicians, studio space and resources from Opera North may also be available.

Applications should be sent in the form of a pdf or Word document to Lesley Patrick, Partnerships Director at DARE:, before the deadline of 5 December 2016. Shortlist interviews will take place in the week commencing 9 January 2017, and the recipient will be announced in the week commencing 7 February.

For more information on the DARE Prize and the partnership, visit





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Dance Studio Showcase Raises £1,000 for Charity



The Dance Studio Leeds, based in Mabgate Mills, presented their second showcase on the 8th October at the Carriageworks Theatre in aid of Yorkshire Cancer Research.


Over 130 local dancers, the majority of whom were adult performers, gathered together to celebrate their love of dance, to a packed audience across 20 performances, in more than 12 different dance styles. A multitude of different eras and cultures were represented including: Charleston, Street, Tap, Contemporary, Flamenco, Belly Dance, Salsa, Lindy Hop, Indian Classical Dance, Jazz, Ballet, and Bollywood.


The evening was a resounding success, and the show raised in the region of £1,000 for Yorkshire Cancer Research. Donations to the charity can also be made via .

The Dance Studio holds weekly adult classes and newcomers are always welcome!

Images: Brian Slater Photography


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Dancing to Raise Money for Yorkshire Cancer Research


The Dance Studio Leeds’ Celebration of Dance Showcase has chosen Yorkshire Cancer Research as the benefiting charity for its bi-annual dance event, which takes place on Saturday 8th October at The Carriageworks Theatre.

Inspired by the dancers who run classes, rehearse, or engage with The Dance Studio Leeds, the show will feature a broad spectrum of styles, including tap, belly dance, Lindy Hop and Bharathanatyam, a type of Indian dance. It is a chance for them to share their love of dance with family, friends, and fellow enthusiasts.

“We are very keen to support local charities”, said Katie Geddes, Director at The Dance Studio Leeds. “As I’m sure many families have also been, our family has been affected by cancer numerous times over the last few years, so we wanted to try and fundraise for a charity that is fighting to beat this terrible disease.”

The studio is aiming to raise £2,000 through corporate sponsorship, ticket sales, merchandise and donations.

“A Celebration of Dance promises to be a great evening, full of entertainment and sparkles!” said Sophie Bunker, Community Engagement Officer at Yorkshire Cancer Research. “It’s great to see a dance studio supporting adults across various dance styles. It’s a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy whilst having fun.”

Tickets for the event (£10/£8 concession), are available from The Carriageworks via 0113 2243801 or by visiting

Please contact The Dance Studio Leeds if you would like to support the event at, or you can donate via their online fundraising page


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‘Anniversary’ Captivates its Audience


‘Anniversary’, in the Courtyard Theatre at West Yorkshire Playhouse until Saturday 17th September, is a delight!

Poignant, funny, nostalgic, at times tragic but also inspiring, this cast of contemporary dancers and community performers aged between 50 – 90 presented a production inspired by and exploring the stories of their lives.

It took a little while to get off the ground, but when it did it soared. Separately performers approached the microphone with snippets from their lives – the ‘anniversaries’ they were celebrating. These ranged from the death of a brother and romantic liaisons, to friends getting together to form what was to become Phoenix Dance.


The performers included Namron (71), a leading member of London Contemporary Dance Company and the first black dancer to join a professional contemporary company in Britain, and Barbara Newsome (87), a retired office worker for the Ministry of National Insurance who attends Heydays, the Playhouse’s creative community initiative for the over 55s; Villmore James (50s), a founder member of Phoenix Dance and Alex Elliott (50s) a founder member of Northern Stage Ensemble and associate artist of Unfolding Theatre; Sally Owen (60s), a principal dancer with Ballet Rambert, performer, and choreographer who has directed work for Scottish Dance Theatre, Le Compagnie Renaud-Barrault, and Nederland’s Dans Theater 2 and Tamara McLorg (66), former Artistic Director for Dundee Rep Dance Company and a solo artist and choreographer who has created work on the streets of Peru, South Africa, Mexico, Ethiopia and Lithuania; Hum Crawshaw (85), a retired antiques dealer and Heydays member and Connie Hodgson (69), a retired hairdresser and nurse; and retired teachers Pat White (62), and Maureen Willis (68).


The music, an original score composed by Christopher Benstead and performed by the Citizens’ Orchestra, was just perfect for the piece.

‘Anniversary’ is a co-production with Performance Ensemble – a professional company of older artists founded by Alan Lyddiard, formerly Artistic Director of Northern Stage.


“As an older person there aren’t many opportunities to be creative on a professional platform and I found many who felt the same – voices that were lost, forgotten and deserved to be heard”, said Alan who directed the production. “I started thinking of making a company for older people, and because of Heydays and its commitment to providing creative opportunities for older people, immediately thought of West Yorkshire Playhouse as a partner.

“Anniversary is about the importance of being able to express yourself. The most extreme, brilliant and powerful theatre comes from giving people the opportunity to tell their own story in a way that is captivating and extraordinary.”

And, Anniversary is all of those things. Last night it received a well deserved standing ovation and there were many damp eyes in the house. There are two more performances – catch it if you can, it’s brilliant!

I’m off to book some dance classes!


Photos: Anthony Robling

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What If I Told You – The Striking Story of One Woman


‘What If I Told You’, written and performed by Pauline Mayers, and in collaboration with Chris Goode, comes to The Barber Studio at West Yorkshire Playhouse on 30th September / 1st October.

Throughout Pauline’s life, people have made assumptions about her based on her gender, background and race. She has defied these expectations at every turn, tearing up the narrative that society tried to impose on her. This is Pauline’s story, but it illuminates a collective social history that is at times alarming, and asks us to reconsider the stories we tell about the past and the history on which we build our futures.


Carefully balancing dance and theatre, ‘What If I Told You’ immerses us in Pauline’s world, delving into a rich quilt of experiences that reflect the wider social and political times of the past 30 years. From the days when she was the first British female black dancer at the Rambert School, ‘What If I Told You’ takes a closer look at the challenges Pauline has faced, and shows how the answers may lie in our shared history. Race, gender and body image are all explored here.


Pauline first encountered Chris Goode and his work through ‘Open House’, his first performance at West Yorkshire Playhouse at the inaugural Transform Festival in 2011, following which she became an Associate Artist of Chris Goode & Company. Sharing an ambition to tell the stories of ordinary people in an extraordinary way, they have worked on shows together including ‘9’ and ‘The Albermarle Sketchbook’.

‘What If I Told You’ has been supported through West Yorkshire Playhouse’s FURNACE artist development programme, beginning with a residency and scratch performance at the theatre. Each performance will be followed by a discussion with invited guests.

“Pauline has consistently pushed the boundaries of this project, evolving it into a truly vital piece of contemporary theatre that is both deeply personal and powerfully resonant in today’s society. We’re proud to have been a home for the show’s creation and can’t wait to continue the journey.” Gilly Roche, West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Producer

Tickets (£12.50) are available from



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