Northern Ballet announces next new creation


Northern Ballet has announced its next new creation will be 1984, based on George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece and created by guest Choreographer Jonathan Watkins.

The World Première of 1984 will take place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds in September 2015 before a major tour throughout autumn 2015 and spring 2016.

Experts in passionate storytelling, Northern Ballet’s adaptations of some of the world’s most treasured novels move and inspire more people in more cities across the UK every year than any other ballet company. This dance adaptation of the literary classic will be an eagerly anticipated addition to the Company’s popular repertoire.

Smothered by a world of 24 hour surveillance in which totalitarianism is taken to new depths, Winston Smith fights back against ‘Big Brother’. Battling against conformity he starts a diary and begins writing his way to freedom but Big Brother is always watching. In a lonely world Winston seeks solace in memories of the past and falls in love. Little does he know his battle against the system will result in his ultimate isolation.

Jonathan has brought together a team of respected and experienced collaborators for 1984. A new score has been commissioned from Tony nominated Composer and Arranger Alex Baranowski, who recently worked with Mercury Prize winning band The xx, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and who worked with Jonathan previously on his dance adaptation of Kes. Sets and costumes will be designed by Simon Daw whose work includes productions with Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Opera House and Rambert Dance Company. Dramaturg Ruth Little, previously Literary Manager of The Royal Court Theatre and Lighting Designer Chris Davey, well known for his work in dance and theatre including collaborations with Matthew Bourne, will complete the 1984 creative team.

Originally from Barnsley in Northern Ballet’s home county of Yorkshire, Jonathan was formerly a First Artist with the Royal Ballet and retired from dancing in 2013. He made his main stage choreographic debut in 2010 with As One and collaborated on the Royal Opera House’s Metamorphosis: Titian in 2012. Jonathan’s dance adaptation of Kes premièred at Sheffield Crucible Theatre in March earlier this year.

Jonathan said, “I am extremely excited to be working with this multi-talented company to create my vision of 1984. This literary masterpiece has been a constant inspiration to me and now seems a highly relevant time to consider the possibilities of its thought provoking story.”

Northern Ballet is committed to creating new full-length ballets which furthers the Company’s mission to bring new audiences to dance. A recently announced funding increase from Arts Council England means Northern Ballet is now in a position to be able to offer more opportunities for more artists to work with one of the UK’s most loved ballet companies.

David Nixon OBE said: “I am delighted Jonathan accepted my invitation to create 1984 with us. He is an exciting talent and I believe, with the support of Northern Ballet, he is ready to take the next step in his journey as a choreographer. I am proud that we produce and tour more new work than any other ballet company in the UK. Our exceptionally talented dancers are the perfect company on whom Jonathan can create his first full-length ballet. It’s incredibly important that we invest in the future of British dance by providing opportunities such as these to young choreographers.”