Beauty and the Beast ballet comes to Bishop's Stortford
Ballet Theatre UK brings its adaptation of Beauty and the Beast to Bishop's Stortford in October as part of a national tour.
This new production of the classic 18th-century French fairy tale adds to the repertoire of the company formed in 2008 by Christopher Moore, the artistic director.
Ballet Theatre UK has created 14 full-length ballets over the past decade as part of its aim to perform high-quality classical dance in regional venues.
These include the classics such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty as well as original ballets The Snow Queen, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
Christopher said: “Throughout my dance career I noticed a gap in the industry for high-quality ballet in theatres unable to host the larger companies such as the Royal Ballet. Therefore I wanted to deliver a production with the same standard adapted to suit the variety of theatres in the UK who would otherwise not receive the classical art form.”
Each new show is a fresh challenge.
“We rehearse for six weeks intensively to create each new ballet,” said Christopher. “Rehearsals continue once the production is on tour to ensure the work is always presented at its best. Work continues on the nuances of the production, honing and perfecting the delivery of the show.”
Bringing the show to Rhodes Arts Complex and other provincial theatres across the country is no mean feat for Christopher and his team.
There is a ballet mistress, who is responsible for the daily class the dancers undertake and for their well-being; a technical manager, who ensures the show is installed in each theatre and is ready to roll out on time every night; a tour manager, who organises, among other things, cast accommodation and their transportation to each venue; and wardrobe and admin staff.
“Their roles are varied and very important to the smooth running of the company,” said Christopher.
“We generally know what to expect at each theatre – the stage size, space in the wings etc. The technical team usually arrives early morning and the dancers follow during the morning.
“Before each show, the dancers take a warm-up class then a show run-through is undertaken after the technical installation is complete. Depending on travel distances, it can be only a few hours to install the show and be ready to perform.”
The new show tells the story of Belle, a beautiful, intelligent young woman who feels out of place in her provincial village. When her father is imprisoned in a mysterious castle, her attempt to rescue him leads to her capture by the Beast, a grisly and fearsome monster.
Little does Belle know that he is a prince cursed by a magical enchantress. The only way the Beast may become human again is if he learns to love and be loved in return.
Throughout the run, the title roles are shared by principal dancers Erin Flaherty and Anna Yliaho as Beauty and Ben Crossley-Pritchard and Oliver Cooper as the Beast.
Christopher urged ballet newcomers to give the art form a chance: “I had a retired gentleman approach me after one of our shows who said that he had never been to a ballet before and was so pleased he had now done so, having enjoyed it immensely.
“I think it should be considered as one of life’s experiences – you’ll never know till you try it. A live show with a high visual content and rousing music will always set the heart beating faster.”
* Ballet Theatre UK brings Beauty and the Beast to Rhodes Arts Complex in South Road, Bishop’s Stortford, on Monday, October 22 at 6.30pm. Tickets are £17.50 (concessions £15.50, under-16s £11.50). To book, visit www.rhodesartscomplex.co.uk or call the box office on 01279 710200.