Preview: Northern Ballet's The Little Mermaid

Northern Ballet: The Little Mermaid

credit: Emma Kauldhar

The old fairy tale takes on new life in David Nixon's ballet

It was Danny Kaye who first introduced David Nixon to The Little Mermaid, in the 1950s biopic about its author, Hans Christian Andersen. But it wasn't until years later, when Nixon was turning the fairy tale into Northern Ballet's latest production, that he started to appreciate its true depth.

'I fell in love with the story as I worked with it because it has so many layers,' says Nixon. 'At first you just think it's about a girl with a tail who falls in love with a guy, but it's much richer than that. At its heart, it's about the way we look at people differently because they're not the same as us, and the inability to communicate. Andersen has made that huge in the sense that it's a water world versus a land world, but it's very much the way we have looked at people for hundreds of years who aren't our race or religion.'

Although often synonymous with Disney, and therefore deemed a work for children, Nixon's version of The Little Mermaid, set to an original score by composer Sally Beamish, is aimed at ballet-lovers of all ages.

'The performance has really been able to reach across ages,' he says. 'For children, it's about pace, and the piece is quite visually stunning with big puppets for some of the water creatures and beautiful costumes. And adults get a lot out of it because of the layers, and the fact that the mermaid goes through such sacrifice and pain for what she loves.'

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 22–Sat 24 Mar

The Little Mermaid

Based on the famous fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid tells of a young mermaid who is willing to give up everything she knows for love and the desire to gain a human soul.

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