Ugly Duckling, a Short Ballet for Small People


Liane Langdon enjoys Ugly Duckling at Northern Ballet …

I took my son to see the Northern Ballet family production of Beauty and the Beast last year when he was three and a half, and, frankly, he had less difficulty following the plot than my husband, but it was really too long for him. So I was pleased to discover that, beginning this October, Northern Ballet are touring a 45 minute production of ‘Ugly Duckling’ around small venues.

The production team had given a lot of thought to the business of entertaining lots of children, including allowing children to be seated in a fairly free range way, supplying programmes with the story to read whilst you wait, providing activities for children who have to leave the auditorium, and giving a clear explanation of the code of conduct before the performance started.

The performance itself was enchanting with each animal clearly characterised with signature moves and the plot developments and the emotional content of each scene clearly expressed. My son was able to show me how frogs, ducks, foxes, cats and swans danced after the show (complete with very entertaining imitations, especially of the frogs leaping about with webbed hands) and tell me what adventures the ugly duckling had, who her friends were, and that the fox was definitely only pretending to be a friend!

For the very reasonable price of £5 for adults and £4 for children Northern Ballet managed to stage a perfect portion of ballet for small people (and not by fielding only apprentice dancers). This not only leaves me wondering why I paid £16 per person to see Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt (not sure where the money went there) but keeping a close eye out for the next children’s production.

This is the first in a series of three ‘short ballets for small people’ that Northern Ballet are producing and they are taking suggestions for the next ones, I am thinking perhaps ‘Three Little Pigs’. I’m guessing that the copyright on ‘Room on the Broom’ would blow the budget.

You can find the tour dates for Ugly Duckling at Northern Ballet and vote for the next one on Short Ballets For Small People.

Line describes herself as … A working mum, mourning the passing of her dancing days (though hoping they may be on the horizon again – hope springs eternal) and forever fighting the urge to stay in bed until noon with a packet of biscuits in order to address the dual needs of a bit of cultural interaction and meeting the requirements of small boys.

I have a twitter account, but I’ve never got active in the twitter world. I’m @cipfawitch