FEATURE: Get Into…21st Century Ballet | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Award-winning dance theatre ballet company balletLORENT celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, so what better time to be guided by the expertise of its founder and artistic director Liv Lorent MBE?

Ahead of the Newcastle-based company’s national tour of Rumpelstiltskin, we caught up with Liv to learn from her passion for movement and magical theatre. Over to you Liv…

The good news is that ballet is evolving and now offers a great many styles, and there is likely to be a company out there that could make you fall in love with a version of ballet. The key is to start watching dance, whether that’s live performance or clips online, and find out what appeals to you.

Ballet often unifies movement, spectacle, music and costume to create a vivid world onstage inhabited by highly skilled dancers who are silently giving their whole body to every moment in a choreographed performance. Frequently female dancers are still wearing pointe shoes, and thereby offering a weightless presence that is a traditional hallmark of the ballet aesthetic. Often the body shape is highly visible and accentuated by costume.

Movement accompanied by music can be universally understood, so there’s no need for any special language, education or expertise to interpret dance; rather than being elitist, which can sometimes be the perception of ballet, it is in fact a great leveller for all ages and backgrounds. As our patron Johnny Vegas says in this video “ballet belongs to everyone”.

My favourite choreographer of all time is Kenneth MacMillan, who was artistic director and principal choreographer of the Royal Ballet in between 1970 and 1992. We have a wealth of fantastic British choreographers and high-quality dance companies that are currently offering stunning new ballets – our neighbours in Leeds, Northern Ballet, are highly reputable and offer traditional and new story ballets with a classical movement aesthetic and dynamic storytelling.

So, what is balletLORENT? We are quite different from these powerhouse ballet companies but find our own way to offer magic. A little bit alternative, the balletLORENT dancers might wear pointe shoes, but are often barefoot, or in high heels, and maybe even in roller skates. Or crossing the stage on a scooter… while also balancing on pointe shoes, as we did in our award winning Rapunzel in 2012.

We make work for children, families and adults. We’re currently touring our family production, Rumpelstiltskin across theatres in the UK, but we’re also performing After Dark in November at Northern Stage which is for adults only. We like to mix it up!

Making dance relevant to audiences and reflective of a wide spectrum of people is something that we care about very deeply. balletLORENT is about finding the beauty in all shapes sizes and ages of humanity, and not just young, slim and athletic body types. An older character in a story we are interpreting will be played by an extraordinarily experienced dancer who is 50 years old, rather than using makeup and a wig to pretend to be this age.

We adore scale, story and wonder, and enjoy offering a cast of performers that are as exciting and varied as the narratives we are performing. Our company is made up of exceptional professional dancers, but to truly reflect our society I enjoy working with non-dancer members of our community as well. In Rumpelstiltskin our ensemble is made of 10 children from a primary school local to the venue, alongside cameo performances by a cast of older people aged 70+, who bring something completely unique to each performance.

Similarly, to a classical ballet company our dancers are also silent onstage, but in our re-imagined fairy-tale trilogy (Rapunzel, Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin), we had fantastic actors such as Ben Crompton, Lesley Sharp and Lindsey Duncan to speak Carol Ann Duffy’s words as narrator amongst the fantastic orchestral scores by Dr Who composer Murray Gold. This helps us be ever more family friendly, which is very important to us, and we don’t have to worry about mime…which I always struggled to follow!

We work passionately with our collaborators to create a complete world onstage which helps you to immerse yourself in the emotions and the story unfolding before you. balletLORENT make ballet for 21st century audiences, made in the North of England. It is made to enchant and move you, to thrill and overwhelm you with the sheer amount of beauty onstage and everything we can give your eyes and ears and like classical ballet, we try to offer escapism from real life. This is at the heart of what balletLORENT wants to give our audience.

Take a look at our tour dates here, and if you’re unable to attend a live performance, you can see our work on Vimeo and YouTube.

2018 is a special year for balletLORENT, which has recently been named as just one of just three regional dance companies to become a Sadler’s Wells Strategic National Partner organisation in recognition of the quality of its work, and we are delighted to be one of Northern Stage’s Associate Artists also.

As part of its 25th anniversary year balletLORENT will be performing After Dark, four nightly events at Northern Stage fro the 7th until 10th November to celebrate some of the site specific adult productions in the company’s 25-year history. It is a chance to witness the dancers close up, and at their most daring.  For details visit www.balletlorent.com.

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