Northern Ballet deliver a new and fresh twist to a classical ballet with THE GREAT GATSBY
The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. A story a majority of us know and love. The classic American novel about the mysterious millionaire who has an affinity for lavish parties and good-looking women. Set in the 1920s, Gatsby’s exotic lifestyle is twisted by his loneliness, obsession and pre-war time memories and lest we not forget, the ever-dazzling Daisy Buchanan.
Northern Ballet take to the stage in what begins to be rather an unsynchronised start. Gatsby’s ‘criminal’ activities don’t quite seem to be danced to the same timings and we start the evening off wondering if this is done on purpose or not.
Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin danced by Kevin Poeung, glides across the stage into a white waterfall of dazzling material, depicting the ever-familiar scene in Daisy’s house where we meet a petite and charming Daisy, danced by Antoinette Brooks-Daw.
Daisy floats around in a very sweet, yet elegant scene with her best friend, Jordan Baker, danced by Pippa Moore. There is something so innocent about this scene draped in white cloth, albeit a bit alluring, but really gives us a sense of both the ladies characters.
Passion and drama are soon underway when we find out that Daisy’s husband has a mistress involved. Brooks ability to show such grace to her guests, yet such disgust and hate towards her husband through dance and movement shows true talent in her capability of bold dance and experience.
Her pas de deux with the dashing Mr Gatsby, danced by Ashley Dixon, dancing together for the first time since meeting, displays a beautiful connection of disbelief and desire. Their movements are so crisp, fresh and fun and this passionate meeting delivers some strong lifts, done to perfection, and some heartfelt moments which made even us feel a little bit loved up.
A younger Daisy and Gatsby are often seen throughout the show, depicting flashbacks of their youth and how they met. Both dancers manage to create the younger versions of the characters seem very real, although some of their dances are a little too repetitive for our liking.
We are taken aback at the end of the first act with the dance party at Gatsby house, and not for the extravagance of the party, but for the extravagance of the dance. The male dancers seem to redeem themselves from their shaky start and we are treated to the highest of jumps, quickest of turns and the jazziest mash-up of a ballet dance-off.
It’s a new and fresh twist to a classical ballet. We are intrigued with the use of a tyre as one of the props of the Myrtles’ husband (Myrtle being the mistress), played by Mlindi Kulashe, we are sure that such an object in classical ballet would be shunned upon. However, its clever use in this production ties along with the daring and bit more ‘out there’ theme of the ballet.
Director David Nixon isn’t shy to push the boat out with just that and has even included a very clever, and raunchy, sex scene which as we know it, soon turns into a bit of violence. Using unusual, but very obvious movements, we see what probably wouldn’t be in the likes of The Nutcracker – but it works in this ‘no-worries’, 1920’s production.
A special mention must definitely go to Myrtle, our mistress, danced by Minju Kang who, every time she enters the stage, is phenomenal. She is a confident performer and dances to the death, never seeming to be tired at all. She plays her character extremely well and although we shouldn’t much like for her actions, we love the sexiness and ferocity she brings to the stage.
The thing which really makes up The Great Gatsby, however, in both the literature and the productions, is the language. Turning words into a ballet is a hard thing to have done and unless you understand the storyline completely, it can understandably be easy to be lost along the way.
But this shouldn’t put you off. The transportation back to a jazzy 1920’s night out is guaranteed. The glitzy costumes, the catchy soundtrack creating a variety of moods and nuances and the beautiful and bespoke ballet style movements which sweep across the stage are more than worth being swept away at.
It’s not your average classical ballet, but a very fun and jazzy version of it, still keep the class and style.
Northern Ballet’s THE GREAT GATSBY runs at The Lowry, Salford until 11 May 2019
Lauren is a student journalist and reporter for Mancunian Matters. Originally from Zimbabwe, Lauren has a love for writing and photography. Her hobbies consist of coffee shops, blogging, travel and art and if you can’t find her around, she will most definitely be at the gym!