Richard Trinder, Editor

Generations At The Northern Ballet

Northern Ballet’s new season, and their first curated by Artistic Director Federico Bonelli, begins with a triple-bill of breathtaking ballets by some of the world’s finest choreographers.

Intimate Pages

Renowned trailblazer of dance, American ballet superstar Tiler Peck, presents her first collaboration with a European company in the much anticipated world première of 'Intimate Pages'.

Northern Ballet dancers in Intimate Pages. Photo Emily Nuttall
Northern Ballet dancers in Intimate Pages. Photo Emily Nuttall
Inspired by an exquisite string quartet by Czech composer Leoš Janáček, who wrote the piece with a love interest in mind, 'Intimate Pages' explores, illustrates and dramatises the sheer beauty of romantic love, its missteps, and its highs and low.

cq[Tiler Peck: When I listen to the music I hear so many emotions - yearning, ecstasy, struggle, elation. Ultimately, that is what led me to want to discover and explore the human emotion and those feelings through dance.]

Joie de Vivre

Kirica Takahashi and Jun Ishii in Joie de Vivre. Photo Emily Nuttall
Kirica Takahashi and Jun Ishii in Joie de Vivre. Photo Emily Nuttall
The romantic music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, who is often credited with having helped Finland develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia - a thoroughly modern problem - is the inspiration for up-and-coming choreographer Benjamin Ella.

So aptly named, the piece is a celebration of life, full of fun, laughter, free expression, and love. What more could you ask for?

cq[Benjamin Ella: I’ve put eight different pieces together in my own order in a way that I feel gives a nice flow and journey to the piece as a whole, as well as giving lots of opportunity to show off the dancers. There is no story per se, but there is a soft narrative that charges throughout, a kind of poem or epigram of feelings, emotions and connections.]

Adagio Hammerklavier

Northern Ballet dancers in Adagio Hammerklavier. Photo Emily Nuttall
Northern Ballet dancers in Adagio Hammerklavier. Photo Emily Nuttall
Astonishingly, this piece was created over 50 years ago by the man often referred to as the grandmaster of contemporary ballet, Hans van Manen. Despite its age, it remains fresh, lively, and bursting with charm. Set to an exquisite Beethoven piano sonata (no. 29 in B-flat major), this is a quite perfect 25 minutes that leaves the audience utterly uplifted.


The title Generations is presumably referring to the age range of the choreographers, from Hans van Manen (born in 1932) through to relative newcomer Benjamin Ella, via all-round superstar Tiler Peck. If succession planning were a thing in the world of ballet, then it would seem to be well in hand.

These are three delightfully crafted pieces, full of warmth, love, and humanity. Such great choices, beautifully rendered by the dancers and accompanied with aplomb by real, live musicians. How very retro, and hugely welcome.

There is much to enjoy here.

Cast List

Joie de Vivre by Benjamin Ella
Couple A Dominique Larose, Joseph Taylor
Couple B Sarah Chun, Harris Beattie
Couple C Kirica Takahashi, Jun Ishii
Pianist Ewan Gilford
Violin Geoffrey Allan

Adagio Hammerklavier by Hans Van Manen
Couple 1 Amber Lewis, Jonathan Hanks
Couple 2 Alessandra Bramante, George Liang
Couple 3 Dominique Larose, Joseph Taylor
Pianist Colin Scott

Intimate Pages by Tiler Peck
Main Couple Sarah Chun, Harris Beattie
Soloists Aerys Merrill, Kirica Takahashi
Couples Julie Nunès, Stefano Varalta
Kaho Masumoto, Archie Sherman
Helen Bogatch, Bruno Serraclara
Violin Geoffrey Allan
Violin Helen Boardman
Viola Rosalyn Cabot
Cello Toby Turton

Generations runs from 8th September 2023 - 16 September 2023 at Leeds' Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, with performances at 14:00 and 19:30. Tickets are from £30.
After that the production moves to London: Linbury Studio Theatre at Royal Opera House, from 31 October 2023 to 2 November 2023, with performances at 14:00 and 19:45.
More details can be found here.