Dixon's choreography gives both the principals and the corps de ballet opportunities to show off, whether in variations on the social dances of the 1920s – look out for the charleston, the bunny hug and the tango – or in more lyrical moments. These are principally the preserve of the young Daisy (Michela Paolacci) as she swirls gracefully across the stage with her war-destined beloved Gatsby (Jeremy Curnier). Their steps for their several pas de deux are firmly in the romantic Ashton idiom.
When it comes to their older emanations, (Martha Leebolt) as Daisy (now Mrs Buchanan) and Tobias Batley as the wealthy sybarite Gatsby) with their friends and lovers are given steps which – particularly in the jumps and lifts – are far more forceful, even jagged. There are odd little syncopated scissor kicks which remind you that this was an era where design favoured the asymmetrical and when life could be forceful, not to say ruthless.
Jérôme Kaplan is the designer for the simple but atmospheric sets with Tim Mitchell's lighting contributing to the sense of time and place. The mirror sequence which opens the second act where reflexions deform into something akin to the work of de Chirico or Dali is particularly effective. Throughout, period detail is never allowed to confine or cramp the dancers' space.
This is a company of
dancers who can also act, so that the divided personalities of Gatsby
himself, jealous George (Benjamin Mitchell), unfaithful Myrtle
(Victoria Sibson) and Tom (Kenneth Tindall) as well as the
slightly-detached Nick (Giuliano Contadini) and Jordan (Hannah
Bateman) are all made clear. The Northern Ballet Sinfonia was
conducted by John Pryce-Jones and reminded us of what an enjoyable
composer Rodney Bennett had been, and still is.