Northern Ballet announce first short ballet for small people

Northern Ballet announce first short ballet for small people


Ugly Duckling, Northern Ballet’s first short ballet for small people, will be performed in Leeds this autumn. Supported by Leeds Inspired the project is designed to encourage children to see their first ballet and introduce young families across Leeds to Northern Ballet. Ugly Duckling will be choreographed by Northern Ballet dancers Dreda Blow and Sebastian Loe.


Based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, Ugly Duckling is the story of a lonely duckling who doesn’t fit in with her friends. Throughout the ballet, the duckling learns about herself and those around her and when she learns to love who she is she turns into a beautiful swan and begins a happy new life.


The colourful production for children aged four and up will feature a host of animal characters including cats, frogs and a fox. The performance time will be 40 minutes in length and the music performed will range from classical compositions to the theme tunes of popular children’s cartoons.


Sebastian Loe said, ‘The great thing about Ugly Duckling and other children’s stories is that they teach important and timeless values from a young age. The message we want to put across in Ugly Duckling is that we should be confident in embracing who we are and ultimately we should not be afraid of being ourselves.’


To develop the production, Northern Ballet has employed the expertise of families across Harehills and Chapeltown. Selina McGonagle Director of Learning at Northern Ballet said, “Children will assist in the creation of the work to ensure the production is lively and engaging. Ugly Duckling will be made with children for children. The production will be performed with Northern Ballet dancers in communities outside the city centre to give more people access to live theatre.”


Ugly Duckling will be performed in Leeds communities over the summer and will be accompanied by education activities at duck ponds across Leeds. The performance will tour around the region before coming to the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre on 29 October for 14 performances.


Dreda Blow who will co-choreograph the production said, ‘According to my parents, I saw my first ballet when I was only two years old and was absolutely riveted! I sat perfectly still, my eyes glued to the stage the entire time. If our production of Ugly Duckling inspires children to start ballet lessons then that’s great, but most importantly I hope it awakens in them a love and appreciation for the magic of dance and theatre in general. Sebastian and I want to create a performance rich in personality and humour with lots of impressive, beautiful dancing as well. I can’t wait to see the children’s reactions on première night!’

About Northern Ballet


Northern Ballet is renowned for its full-length narrative productions which embrace popular culture and take inspiration from literature, opera, or give a unique interpretation of classical ballets. The Leeds-based company is committed to touring throughout the UK and overseas, developing new audiences for dance. It has carved a unique place in the UK’s cultural landscape and was voted Britain’s favourite ballet company for three consecutive years at the National Dance Awards.


Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre are based in a new centre of excellence for dance in Leeds for dance artists, enthusiasts and audiences across the north of England. Their award-winning headquarters on Quarry Hill in central Leeds is the largest purpose-built space for dance outside London.


Ugly Duckling is an audience outreach project funded by Leeds City Council and is part of Leeds Inspired which celebrates arts, sport and heritage events. This is the first time Northern Ballet will produce a ballet for young children and the aim is to engage families in theatre, art and music in a fun, lively and approachable way.


Leeds Inspired is a Leeds City Council initiative which supports arts, sport and heritage events around the region and offers grants to individuals and organisations for cultural projects. Leeds Inspired is supported by a group of partners including West Yorkshire Playhouse, SAA-UK, Cultivate, Leeds Young Authors, Leeds Initiative, Leeds Met Gallery, Phoenix Dance and Duke Studios.


Tour Listings

Ugly Duckling

Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre

Mon 29 October – Fri 2 November

Performances: Daily at 11am, 1pm and 3pm (except Thursday 1 November when there is no 3pm performance)

Box Office: 0113 220 8008

Book Online:

Tickets: £4 – £5


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