Magic shoes on for a fairy­tale ballet

A ballet com­pany is bring­ing two very dif­fer­ent pro­duc­tions to Bucks next month. CAMILLA GOOD­MAN chats to dancer Kiara Flavin about the shows

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BE moved this spring and let ‘Europe’s lead­ing dance ac­tors’ cap­ti­vate you through a mix of pow­er­ful sto­ry­telling and clas­si­cal dance when North­ern Ballet per­form two breath­tak­ing bal­lets in Bucks next month.

The com­pany will per­form two shows of Madam But­ter­fly and two of The Elves and The Shoe­maker on Fri­day, June 19 and Satur­day, June 20 at Ayles­bury’s Water­side Theatre.

The much-loved and heart­break­ingly tragic Madame But­ter­fly tells the story y of the doomed love af­fair be­tween an Amer­i­can Naval Lieu­tenant and his young Ja­panese bride, But­ter­fly. Madly y in love and pre­pared to sac­ri­fice ev­ery­thing, But­ter­fly’s world falls apartt when she is aban­doned and be­trayed.

Elves & The Shoe­maker is a ballet for or chil­dren that retells the fa­mous Brothersers Grimm story. A poor and kind-hearted d shoe­maker re­ceives some much-needed ed help when his last piece of leather is trans­formed into the most mag­nif­i­cent t pair of shoes overnight. He dis­cov­ers that not only are the shoes beau­ti­ful; they are also mag­i­cal. Who is the mys­te­ri­ous maker of th­ese mar­vel­lous shoes?

We speak to one of the per­form­ers Kiara Flavin ahead of the shows.

How do you pre­pare for Madame But­ter­fly/Elves & the Shoe­maker?

There was quite a dif­fer­ent prepa­ra­tion process for each ballet. Be­cause Elves & the Shoe­maker was a new cre­ation, we spent many hours in the stu­dio bring­ing it to life from scratch be­fore re­hears­ing the fi­nal prod­uct. Madame But­ter­fly was a re­vis­ited work and there­fore was taught to us by the ballet staff and the dancers who had done it be­fore.

How long do you have to re­hearse for Madame But­ter­fly/ Elves & the Shoe­maker and what is the prepa­ra­tion like?

Prepa­ra­tion time varies from

pro­duc­tion t to pro­duc­tion pro­duc­tion. While pre­par­ing for Ma Madame But­ter­fly we were also learn­ing two or three other works as well as tour­ing and per­form­ing other pro­duc­tions. The brain gets a work­out as well as the body! We pull it to­gether in fewer hours than you’d think. For Elves & the Shoe­maker the prepa­ra­tion was unique in my ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause I was in­volved in the cre­ation, so a bit more time was al­lot­ted.

What is your favourite ballet to per­form/ to watch?

We’ve re­cently per­formed Wuther­ing Heights, and I was com­pletely in­spired with ev­ery show. Mu­sic, chore­og­ra­phy, story-telling; just in­cred­i­ble. So pas­sion­ate. Good luck hold­ing back tears!

What has been your most chal­leng­ing role so far in your ca­reer?

I can­not seem to pin­point just one… There have been so many chal­leng­ing roles and all for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. The level of chal­lenge is also in­ter­preted on a very in­di­vid­ual ba­sis. I think it re­ally de­pends on your con­fi­dence level at the time of tack­ling the role!

What is your favourite as­pect of Madame But­ter­fly/Elves & the Shoe­maker?

My favourite as­pect of Madame But­ter­fly is the mu­sic as well as the unique­ness of the style and chore­og­ra­phy. It is amaz­ing how ballet can feel so dif­fer­ent when put into a new con­text. My favourite as­pect of Elves & the Shoe­maker is the op­por­tu­nity to de­liver a high-en­ergy and com­pletely fun-filled per­for­mance. It is re­ally dif­fi­cult chore­og­ra­phy, but it’s all play!

What ad­vice would you give to any­body

who is in­ter­ested in learn­ing ballet?

Although ballet is a very dif­fi­cult art form to mas­ter, if you re­ally love it, ev­ery ob­sta­cle can be over­come, and ev­ery suc­cess will be com­pletely grat­i­fy­ing. You get out what you put in. Give it your heart and soul and it will re­cip­ro­cate!

What is your favourite thing about ballet?

Per­form­ing. ballet is not a ca­reer for the faint-hearted, but ev­ery mo­ment on stage is a gift, a plea­sure, an hon­our.

North­ern Ballet Theatre per­forms Madam But­ter­fly on Fri­day, June 19 and Satur­day, June 20 at 7.30pm and Elves and the Shoe­maker on Satur­day, June 20 at 12.30pm and 2.15pm at The Ayles­bury Water­side Theatre. Visit­gtick­ or call 0844 871 7607 to book. Tick­ets for the shows cost £9 to £43.90.

Kiara Flavin in Elves and The Shoe­maker which comes to Ayles­bury next month

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