Northern Ballet: A Celebration of Sir Kenneth MacMillan

The Alhambra

Northern Ballet brings dance history to the Alhambra in a striking tribute to master choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan, marking the 25th anniversary of his death.

This impressive triple bill showcases the skill and range of the company's young dancers, in hauntingly beautiful interpretations of pieces by one of the world's most influential choreographers.

Last night's programme began with Las Hermanas, a tense psychological drama about five sisters living under the oppressive rule of their mother. Dark and claustrophobic, it conveyed the sisters' intense brooding, trapped in their repressive household, through striking movements. Each of the sisters at times resembled wooden dolls; their brittle surfaces holding back sexual awakening, longing and deadly jealousy.

Hannah Bateman was captivating at the Eldest Sister, her unhappiness seeping through a chilling pas de deux with The Fiance, a fine performance of brutal strength by Javier Torres. Tension simmered throughout, as the roles of the Youngest and Jealous Sisters (Minju Kang and Pippa Moore respectively) unfolded in this menacing psychological drama, creeping towards its inevitable terrible conclusion.

By contrast, the second act - Concerto - was a playful classical piece featuring soloists and a lively ensemble. Set to Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No.2, its three movements present ballet in its purest form.

The triple bill ended with Gloria, a powerful tribute to the First World War fallen, inspired by Vera Brittain’s memoir, Testament of Youth.

Set against a stark wasteland landscape, it depicts the futility and horror of war through haunting choreography to a strangely rousing choral score.

Male dancers, in blood-rusted tin hats, moved in unison with ghostly pale women across a human wasteland. The piece became more poignant with contrasting snapshots of carefree pre-war times, drawing on Brittain's reflection on the deaths of her fiance and brother in the conflict.

Created for the Royal Ballet in 1980, this work still feels fresh and contemporary, thanks to both the timeless choreography and innovative staging.

This show is a first-class memorial to MacMillan, reminding us of the diversity of his work.

Runs until tomorrow.