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Northern Ballet's 'Wuthering Heights': blurs boundaries between story and dance

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★★★★

A reimagined version of David Nixon's debut production and choreography for Northern Ballet, created over 12 years ago, sees Wuthering Heights translated into dance at Southampton's Mayflower Theatre. Brontë's story of Cathy and Heathcliff, written in the 1840s, is one so infamous and beautiful it seems almost too perfect for dance. Trust t'Northern Ballet to perform one of the most well-known of northern stories.

The set opens to Claude-Michel Schönberg's enjoyable, almost cinematic, score, serving as backdrop to a young Cathy (Rachel Gillespie) and a young Heathcliff (Jeremy Curnier). The tempestuous and passionate nature of their love, even at so young, is already so obvious, dripping in primordial expressions and movements.

As the narrative driven piece moves on, we find ourselves watching the now grown up Cathy and Heathcliff (Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley) dancing on the Yorkshire moors. Leebolt and Batley alike should be praised for their virtuosic ability to tell stories through pointed toes. It seems to serve as a trend with Northern Ballet recently, having also showcased 1984 and The Great Gatsby, both literature greats, in their repertoire. NB blur the boundaries between story and dance.

Though moments of the first half seemed a little slow, they were made up for in an impeccable second half, with the wedding scene stealing the show and documenting just how well Northern Ballet do it. The few slips were forgiven for such a well-choreographed and emotive piece. We see Heathcliff overthrown with power, temptation, intimacy and the ability to seduce and, well, the rest is dance. Hannah Bateman (playing Isabella Linton) is a true centrepiece for the NB, having proved her capabilities as her casted character.

Hironao Takahashi completes the set of soloists in his role of Edgar Linton. Though in the novel, we see a wash away, pathetic version of the character, Takahashi plays on the insecurities and forms a well-rounded and slightly comic character consistently, aided with the trembling hands of his Maids.

Until 25th April.

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