Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ugly Duckling

Ugly Duckling, Northern Ballet, Sadler's Wells - reviewed on 17th May
Ugly (Isabella Gasparini) and Ducklings
Photo: Martin Bell
Northern Ballet's 45-minute Ugly Duckling was performed at Sadler's Wells last week during their London season of The Great Gatsby. I snuck out from the office in my lunch break to see how the company's renowned dance-actors would handle the challenges of a children's show.

For a cast of six, the ballet takes inspiration from the familiar tale of a misplaced cygnet who is rejected by her duckling siblings and struggles to find where she belongs. The delightful choreography, by Northern Ballet dancers Dreda Blow and Sebastian Loe, sees lead character Ugly, danced to perfection by Isabella Gasparini, meet frogs, cats and even a fox before she finds her true calling as a swan.
 
The ballet is beautifully-crafted and well-performed, with  jumping frogs, waddling ducklings and many other charming characters forming a seamless, easy-to-follow and entertaining narrative. Costume designs by Julie Anderson and the score by John Longstaff, played live by four musicians, are also excellent.
 
Ugly and Frogs
Photo: Martin Bell
Ugly Duckling was clearly loved by the youngsters and parents in the audience and the commentary provided by the little girl in the row behind me only enhanced the ballet's appeal. As Ugly struggled to find friends, the four-year-old whispered "I think she should make friends with a kangaroo... or she could be friends with me!" (When the Fox came onstage later, she proudly declared: "I knew there would be a kangaroo!")
 
For 45 delightful minutes, I felt like a child myself as I discovered the magic of this sweet ballet. Ugly Duckling can be reviewed in just two words: utterly adorable.

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