Creating a ballet about a mermaid may seem like an impossible task. How can a ballerina dance with a fish tail around her feet?
But such complexities are just the kind of challenge the Northern Ballet thrives on. A company famous for its innovative, creative ballets, the company regularly tackles unusual and thought provoking subjects.
And so bringing Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid to life on stage is a perfect fit.
Telling the story of a young mermaid who is willing to give up everything she knows in the search for love, the Leeds based company is visiting Milton Keynes Theatre on the final leg of its world premiere tour.
The little Mermaid is choreographed and directed by Northern Ballet’s artistic director David Nixon OBE whose most recent creations for the company include Cinderella, The Great Gatsby and Beauty and the Beast.
Mr Nixon said: “The Little Mermaid is an enchanting story and the fantastical underwater world of the mermaids evokes such beautiful imagery.”
The leading role of Marilla is performed by Northern Ballet soloist Abigail Prudames, who explained the character she plays.
“Marilla is the youngest of three mermaids,” said Abigail. “She has an immature side to her which is most apparent when she is with her friend, Dillon the seahorse; they like to play games. She is quite naive about the human world and doesn’t understand why she can’t go to the surface. She sets her sights on Prince Adair who she falls in love with.
“Everything on land is new to her so she is in complete wonderment all the time, excited to see other humans and fascinated by them.
“When her heart is broken by Prince Adair, who is in love with another princess, she experiences unbearable pain in her heart. She also feels excruciating pain in her legs because all this time, her love for Prince Adair has been her coping mechanism for masking the pain in her legs bestowed on her by the Sea Lord. The pain of losing Prince Adair is just too much for her.
“Her journey is quite a long emotional one through the story - she fully endures life in the water and on the land with the humans.”
Abigail said all the costumes she wears are beautiful, and they are different to everyone else’s in terms of colours, material and the overall look. The costumes that Marilla wears are designed to remind people of the water.
She said: “Of course I also have a tail which was a major factor in the creation process as I had to learn how to dance whilst wearing it! I had to learn how the tail moves when it’s attached to me and how much force it needs to be moved, as well as how to make it look most natural.”
Was the tail the most challenging costume she has ever been asked to wear in a Northern Ballet production?
She said: “To be honest no matter what the costume is you always learn to work with it. I don’t really see the tail as part of the costume any more, it is just part and parcel of being Marilla. At the beginning of the creation process the tail and I weren’t friends, but now it’s safe to say I feel lost without it on.”
Even though this production is a darker version than the Disney adaptation, Abigail said children will enjoy the mermaids, sea horse, fish, jellyfish, sailors, and Sea Lord.
The Little Mermaid comes to Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday, April 17, through to Saturday, April 21.
Tickets from £14.90 - £40.90. Box office 0844 871 7652 or book online at www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes.