The Northern Ballet presents the world premier of The Little Mermaid for their autumn season. Based on the well known tale by Hans Christian Andersen, David Nixon’s underwater dream is brought to life with an original score performed live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

From Disney’s own classic adaptation of the story, the plot is engrained in our minds. Although the ballet remains closer to Andersen’s original darker tale than Disney’s romanticised plot. Marilla, a little mermaid with a beautiful voice longs to explore the world on dry land. After she goes to the surface, a storm created by Lyr, Lord of the Sea drags her back to the depths along with a ship holding Prince Adair. Marilla saves Adair and takes him to the shore as she sings her song. Adair awakens and searches for the beautiful voice he heard, seeing Dana, a passing woman, he attributes the voice to her and thanks her. Marilla acquires a potion from Lyr to make her human, but it comes at a price. Marilla loses her beautiful voice and although she moves gracefully, every step causes her pain.

Joseph Taylor as Prince Adair and Abigail Prudames as Marilla with Northern Ballet dancers. Photo Emma Kauldhar..jpg
The cast of The Little Mermaid – Photo credit for both images: Guy Farrow and Emma Kauldhar

Nixon’s stunning choreography creates a believable underwater oasis juxtaposed by life on land. The mermaids are carried and dipped by male dancers to provide the fantasy of swimming underwater. Kimie Nakano’s set design gives the illusion of watery depths as the dimly mirrored walls reflect motion in an eerie way. Nixon’s glittery mermaid costumes impart the perception of scales as every movement is accentuated. The aqueous realm is heightened through the elegance of every dancers step and the free-flowing costumes resembling waves. The whole production’s focus on the underwater world versus the human world is breathtaking, with a clear contrast between land and sea.

The cast for each performance alternates. Soloist Abigail Prudames danced Marilla’s woeful tale with an emotional zeal, portraying both her naive curiosity and her agony with heartbreaking conviction. Leading soloist Dreda Blow is the sure-footed Dana whom the prince falls in love with, she is entirely charming and sweet. The cast works together in complete harmony to present the production in a seemingly effortless light. The key to this production is its fluidity, the key components join together to create a new world which sweeps you away.

The Little Mermaid continues its UK Tour until 5th May 2018.

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