The Little Mermaid – A New Wave of Ballet. ★★★★



The Little Mermaid, a new production by the Northern Ballet, is currently playing at Leeds Grand Theatre, Leeds, and will be until the New Year and will be touring until May 2018. This is a production I hope everyone who enjoys the Ballet and dance will go to see, and I would love to hear people’s opinions.

This production, was to a very high standard, yet it left my wondering what one classes as the Ballet. What someone expects when they go to the Ballet, because I felt a little disappointed, this time.

What held this piece of Ballet together was the fancy lights, costume, set design and music, as the dancing wasn’t outstanding or memorable, it seemed very basic and simple, for me. However, credit to everyone involved, especially the creative team for putting together this wonderful production. Yet, amongst the set, lighting, I was waiting for that big crescendo, one big defining moment and dance sequences to take my breath away. That passion was missing. Do not get me wrong, the dancers were fantastic and full of emotion, I just felt it all could have been pushed.

What defines the Ballet is their dancing ability – that they are able to do such marvellous, difficult things with their bodies and are able to tell a story without sounds. Contemporary dancing, or modern dancing, can be a lot simpler. I’m not saying that contemporary dance is any less of a difficult or wonderful task, it is just different. It is a different genre, and I feel that some productions of Ballet combined with contemporary dance movements, do not work.

Movements that did work, I questioned if they belonged in a Ballet, or if they belonged in a contemporary dance piece. The way in which the characters carried the mermaids across the stage, making it appear as if they are swimming at different levels of the sea was magical, it was imaginative, it just wasn’t the Ballet. But this did work, it was a beautiful way of making it seem like the mermaids were weightless under the sea. There were plenty of beautiful movements, across the whole production which opens the imagination and helps tell the story. However, the Little Mermaid herself kept moving her arms when she was above water, as if she was still floating under the sea and this just annoyed me. It made no sense. It made her look strange.

So, what was disappointing is, in this production, there were times where I felt the dancers were just moving to music. It was very much filled with contemporary dance movements and sequences, and that, to me, is not ballet. There were some beautiful ballet sequences between the dancers, however, it almost felt predictable. Such as, here are some movements, then some ballet, some movements, some ballet and I was left yearning for some classical ballet.

The stage setting was beautiful, the colours reflecting the world under the ocean were beautiful and very kind to the eye. The dancers moving the set deign around was fluid and done at appropriate times – not distracting to the dancers or the story line.

The costumes we’re incredible, beautifully designed with such detail and helped define characters such as the Sea Horse and the Sea Witch. They were bright, bold and entertaining. The costumes for the mermaids were my favourite, and I definitely want a pair of the glitter/sparkly trousers they wore for my own wardrobe. Very Elton John.

However, I felt as though some of the costumes hid the incredible bodies and shapes those bodies can create with classical ballet movements, and therefore the talent in some of the dance sequences was lost. I felt as though some of the dancers were not pushed to their full potential and had so much more to give, as the long, powerful sequences that did happen, were only with the main actors and you could tell the cast were incredibly talented.

The Music was beautiful, mixtures of harps and flutes, it really helped with the magical, imaginary world under the sea.

I feel like I have written a lot of negatives for a very well put together production, and I do recommend seeing the show as it is a wonderful piece of theatre. I only question if the use of modern dance sequences is ruining the classic Ballet?

Let me know you’re thoughts.


Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter, take it from me.

Sorry, I just had to.

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