Northern Ballet’s new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale The Little Mermaid will bring a mystical and beautiful underwater world to Norwich Theatre Royal this September.
Telling the story of a young mermaid who is willing to give up her life below the waves in a search for love and the desire to gain a human soul, the ballet will be performed in the city from September 26 to 30 as part of its world première tour.
This new ballet is the third of an unprecedented three new full-length productions to be created by the Leeds-based company in 2017. It follows on from Casanova which was seen on the Norwich stage in April, and an adaptation of John Boyne’s bestselling novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which is touring other cities throughout the summer.
Norwich will be The Little Mermaid’s first stop-off after it premieres in Southampton on September 21 and it then sets off on a nationwide tour throughout the autumn and into next year.
It is choreographed and directed by Northern Ballet’s artistic director David Nixon OBE whose most recent creations for the company include Cinderella, The Great Gatsby and Beauty & the Beast.
He said: “The Little Mermaid is an enchanting story and the fantastical underwater world of the mermaids evokes such beautiful imagery that it will be an excellent addition to our repertoire. So many people have grown up with an awareness of this classic tale and so I am looking forward to introducing audiences to the world beyond the waves.”
Aware of the opportunities and challenges in creating a beautiful underwater world which would contrast with the human world on land above, he explained: “I look at the first part of the ballet as almost a ballet in its own right – it’s like a dance of the sea with the mermaids and fish. It’s about watching movement, what it might be like to be a mermaid and understanding her world so that you can understand the sacrifice she makes for this love she has.”
David Nixon designed the costumes himself, creating shimmering tails for the mermaids and a Scottish kilt look
for the land-dwelling human characters. “The music has a slight Scottish influence to it and I have taken a slight Scottish influence to the costume – something like a kilt which is a little different. We always have the dilemma that men are either in tights or trousers, but with kilts there is a freedom of movement there.”
Sally Beamish, who recently wrote the music for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Tempest, was commissioned to write the score for The Little Mermaid while the sets have been given a modern, stylish and contemporary look by Japanese designer Kimie Nakano. Lighting is by Tim Mitchell who has also designed lighting for Northern Ballet’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, Cleopatra, Hamlet and The Great Gatsby.
David Nixon said: “It will look different to how our productions normally look. It’s made up of plastic and mirror so I’m hoping it will have a phenomenal water look to it.”
He is immensely proud of the company’s creative output this year and believes that “2017 will be an exemplary example of Northern Ballet’s commitment to continuing to create new work and contributing to the dynamic UK dance scene.
“With an unprecedented three new full-length ballets in one year, I am delighted that we are presenting audiences with such a diverse range of new productions. As a company of talented dance actors, Northern Ballet is in a privileged position to be able to adapt so many different works and continue to challenge the idea of what stories can be told through dance.
Northern Ballet’s The Little Mermaid is here from 26-30 September. Buy tickets at Norwich Theatre Royal.