Interview: David Nixon - choreographer and costume designer
Northern Ballet production of Beauty and the Beast
As Northern Ballet’s production of Beauty and the Beast arrives in Edinburgh, we get the low-down from artistic director, choreographer and costume designer, David Nixon
What made you want to be a choreographer?
I became interested in choreography while I was at the National Ballet School of Canada, and started choreographing while I was still a dancer, but became more serious when I took over my first company. I discovered that my work was pivotal in developing dancers’ potential and that I had an ability to tell stories through dance.
What was the inspiration behind your re-working of Beauty and the Beast?
When re-doing a work, it’s challenging to find a new direction and shed memories of the past production. With Beauty and the Beast, the choreography was inspired by the costume designs. Once I had the freedom to design costumes that did not have to adhere to a specific time, I discovered the key into the ballet. Each design informed the character, the setting and even the movement style. Right from the curtain up you are in a different world.
What do you look for in a dancer?
I’m looking for imagination and a willingness to explore and stretch their abilities. It’s often a close collaboration and a grey line where my creativity ends and theirs starts. Ultimately the dancer must be totally committed to their character and be able to sincerely deliver an honest performance.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
I love Edinburgh audiences as they are educated, open and enthusiastic. I am hoping they will embrace this performance, just as our Leeds audience did, and enjoy the re-telling of a famous fairytale, the beautiful music and dance, and the wonderful look of the production. It’s also worth noting that this show appealed to a wide variety of people in Leeds, and is not by any means intended just for children.
Beauty and the Beast, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 15–Sat 17 Mar.