News: Big Brother comes to Ballet

Tuesday 1 September 2015 by Clare Evans

Tobias Batley as Winston Smith.
Photo: Guy Farrow.

Northern Ballet has been no stranger to transferring contemporary classics from page to stage, with productions of Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby and Cleopatra among their recent repertoire. But their latest production, from choreographer Jonathan Watkins, may be their most ambitious yet, as they tackle the dark and dystopian world of George Orwell’s 1984.

Tobias Batley, who dances the disenchanted protagonist Winston (partnering Martha Leebolt as Julia), insists that 1984 is not too gloomy for ballet.

“Many people have voiced their worry that it’ll be a dark and depressing ballet,” he reflects, “but it depends what you take away from it. We’re focusing strongly on the central love story. When I read the book for the first time, years ago, that was the most important part for me.”

“There’s something incredible about this secret love between Winston and Julia,” he adds, “but it has so much power behind it because it’s uplifted by the contrast with all the darkness outside. Of course it ends tragically – but Romeo and Juliet is also terrible at the end.”

Read more: The Independent, 28 August 2015

1984 will be touring from 5 September, ending in London at Sadler’s Wells from London, 24 – 28 May 2016.

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