Northern Ballet

Case Studies

Arts Grant
Northern Ballet
Photo: Emily Nuttall

A grant was awarded in November 2022 to provide an opportunity for early career choreographers to collaborate with Northern Ballet to explore their creative visions and hone their skills.

The project Sketches offered eight dancer-choreographers the opportunity to develop and hone their skills, build confidence as artists, and lead the creation of new work with a world-class professional company.

Seven dancers from the Northern Ballet company responded to the open call to develop their choreographic skills as participants in the project. The dancers had a wide range of experience, from having no previous choreographic experience to having previously choreographed one of our children’s ballets. The Artistic Director also invited a Leeds-based, award-winning contemporary choreographer to join the project to develop his creative platform as a local choreographer and engage Northern Ballet’s dancers in creating and performing a different dance style.

Between January and May 2023, the Trust’s grant supported a series of 35 collaborative workshops. The dancer-choreographers worked with Northern Ballet company dancers to develop choreographic ‘Sketches’.  Participants were mentored by one of three established choreographers who provided regular coaching throughout the process, in person and over Zoom. They attended rehearsals to see the works developing and offer advice during the creative process. One was not in Leeds, so his involvement was fully remote, but he was able to watch rehearsals via a Zoom connection in our dance studios. The rehearsal room was a safe space where dancers could explore their creative identities in a supportive environment, reflect on choreographic practices, and explore a range of brave, challenging and highly personal topics, including sexuality, depression, and mental health.

The project concluded with two performances at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre on in May 2023, where participants presented their ‘Sketches’, performed by Northern Ballet, to see how their work translated from the studio to the stage. One performance was open to invited guests, friends and family of the dancers and dancer-choreographers, Northern Ballet supporters, and industry professionals, including representatives from Arts Council England, Equity and Leeds 2023, with a total audience of 140. The second performance was open to the public and ticketed (£10 per ticket) and achieved 93% capacity (182 tickets).

Sketches gave dancer-choreographers access to unique professional development and career progression pathways that are often hard to access outside of London.  Additionally working with technical staff, they were able to see how a whole production comes together.

Grant: £4,500 in November 2022
We are hugely grateful to the Idlewild Trust for its support of the first edition of Sketches. The project successfully created more opportunities for early-career dancers and choreographers working in the North. Building on this success, we have delivered a second edition of Sketches in 2024 and see the project as a key element of Northern Ballet's commitment to nurturing new talent. Thank you for your support."