The sumptuous orchestral sounds of Northern Ballet’s Sinfonia conducted by John Pryce-Jones and led by Geoffrey Allen for Northern Ballet’s classical fairy tale ballet Beauty & The Beast are rich and memorable. The choices of music by a variety of classical composers such as Debussy, Saint- Saëns and Poulenc are evocative and engaging. The ballet itself is beautifully danced with the dance highlights being the pas de deux and pas de trois between Beauty (Dreda Blow), Prince Orian (Giuliano Contandini) and The Beast (Ashley Dixon). The principals are superb and the cours de ballet ensemble are deliciously exuberant throughout.
In what is an accessible and stylish ballet interpretation, that steers away from anything Disneyfied, East Midlands Theatre has a few minor reservations about the piece. Whilst the scene changes are slick, leading from impressive set design to even more impressive set design courtesy of designer Duncan Hayler, the structure of the storyline itself occasionally feels a little fractured.
Choreographically, we felt slightly underserved by the interpretation of the evil La Fée Magnifique (Victoria Sibson) and her good fairy sister La Fée Luminaire (Hannah Bateman). This is not a criticism of the dancers themselves but the way that the fairy forces of evil and good are choreographed with these two characters and their influence on the story. We felt that a more dramatically opposed interpretation of the sisters would have served the ballet better. These are minor reservations in what is overall an enchanting evening of ballet choreographed by David Nixon OBE.
Overall though Northern Ballet’s Beauty & The Beast is a delightful and magical ballet with some modern surprises, superb dancing, terrific costumes and a triumph of true love over superficiality and self obsession.
Runs at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Sat 5th November.
Reviewer: Phil Lowe