Northern Ballet’s 1984 at Sadler’s WellsCultureTheatre
Sometimes considered a high-end art form reserved for the upper classes, going to the ballet can perhaps still be a daunting prospect for many people today. The fear certainly exists that after parting with a fair sum of money the performance could prove difficult to understand and therefore not a hugely entertaining or satisfying evening out. This is a preconception that Northern Ballet is working to combat and their unique production of 1984, choreographed by Jonathan Watkins with an original score composed by Alex Baranowski, successfully draws in a diverse crowd and keeps them engaged from start to finish.
This production is the first ballet interpretation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 – the troubling story of Winston Smith and his attempt to rebel from the conformity of an extreme totalitarian society. Conveying a message that still rings worryingly true today, the medium of dance offers a fresh new approach to the subject originally raised by Orwell in his 1949 masterpiece.
Under the watchful eyes of Big Brother and surrounded by screens recording the dancers, the stage becomes a terrifying world in which workers move in unison, endlessly repeating the same tasks. The hypnotic mechanical choreography in these scenes makes a stark contrast with the movements of characters when they are free from the oppressive environments controlled by the state. This is true most notably of the scene in which the two lovers, Winston and Julia, come together in a beautiful and highly sexually charged routine, perfectly executed by two of the company’s premium dancers. The accompanying music, powerfully performed by a live orchestra, strengthens the atmosphere created in this scene and marks the contrast of the scenes to follow.
Northern Ballet’s 1984 is as stunning and captivating as it is accessible and easy to follow. Try to get tickets before the run finishes in London or check out Northern Ballet’s upcoming programme and discover what else they have to offer this year.
Northern Ballet’s 1984 is on at Sadler’s Wells from 24thuntil 28th May 2016. Book your tickets here.