Show: The Little Mermaid by Northern Ballet
Venue: Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Date: 24th March 2018
Director & choreographer: David Nixon
Music: composed by Sally Beamish; performed by Northern Ballet Sinfonia
Principal dancers: Ayami Miyata (Marilla, the mermaid), Nicola Gervasi (Lyr, Lord of the Sea), Matthew Koon (Dillion, the seahorse), Mlindi Kulashe (Prince Adair), Rachael Gillespie & Abigail Prudames (Evelina & Erina, the mermaid’s sisters)
This ballet was an inspired and beautiful adaptation of the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The way the costumes, lighting, staging and choreography came together to create the sense of an underwater world was incredibly clever and very well executed.
The principal dancers were all wonderful, and though it definitely has to be seen to understand and appreciate its full impact, the way the supporting dancers were used to represent the ever flowing and undulating movement of the sea was a stroke of genius. This was used to particularly great effect in key moments throughout the narrative to enhance both the ethereal and powerful qualities of the water.
Speaking of the narrative, it was easy to follow for those well versed and new to the story alike, and I really respected the choice to represent the darker, more melancholic, though beautiful version penned by Andersen, rather than the ‘happily-ever-after’ of the Disney-fied version.
The classical sense of the seamlessly performed original score helped to emphasise the timeless quality of the story; its central theme of not changing yourself to try and please others one that still resonates strongly to this day.
I’ve seen a fair few ballets over the years, and this one easily ranks amongst my favourites. Intelligent, engaging, moving; I urge you to try and see it if it tours near you.