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The Queen of all Ballets: Cleopatra at Leeds Grand Theatre

David Nixon’s ballet charts the life of one of the world’s most famous and influential women.


Northern Ballet brings the remarkable story of one of the world’s best-known icons, Cleopatra, back to the stage at Leeds Grand Theatre from Thu 6 – Sat 15 Mar 2014. Cleopatra premiered in Leeds in February 2011 and toured extensively throughout the UK. Seen by more than 54,000 people and generating more than £1 million at the box office, Cleopatra returns in 2014 for a limited period only.

Cleopatra is choreographed by Artistic Director David Nixon OBE to a score, played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia, by celebrated Golden Globe and Academy Award nominated composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, best known across the world for Les Misérables and Miss Saigon amongst many others. This stunning ballet charts Cleopatra’s sensational rise to power, her scandalous romances with the most powerful men in history, and her eventual downfall.

Claude-Michel Schönberg says: “From the moment David Nixon suggested the ballet of Cleopatra, it took me five years to find an elusive spark of inspiration. I had to understand how sensuous the way of life was in Egypt, the opposite to the culture of Rome. I realised that the chaos of being in love with such a woman as Cleopatra put the Roman Emperor and his Empire in danger. That’s what the score is trying to reflect without falling into clichés associated with that era. The relationship between Rome and Egypt is another aspect of the Yin and the Yang: the perfect incompatibility responsible for the drama of destinies.”

An enduring icon of the ancient world and the ultimate modern woman, Cleopatra’s legend has captivated generations. A universal style and beauty icon, Cleopatra is still inspiring artists, designers and stylists today. Although not widely known as a ballet, Cleopatra gained mass popular appeal through the 1963 Hollywood film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

David Nixon explains: “I have been fascinated by the story of Cleopatra for a long time. I think it’s the name, it’s just so iconic. It has echoed through the centuries, and it has echoed more and more; it doesn’t lose its resonance. Two-thousand years later she is as popular as she ever was, in fact more so. I think the legend and the mystery of the woman grows rather than lessens. There is little factual information about her yet she managed to hold in her grasp two of the most powerful men in history. She was in some ways beautiful and unbelievably sensual for the almost barbaric Romans but she was also a woman, mother and above all a queen.”

David Nixon brought together a group of established Northern Ballet collaborators to work with him on Cleopatra including: Patricia Doyle (Co-director), Christopher Giles (Co-designer) and Tim Mitchell (Lighting Designer).  Northern Ballet introduced projection to create scenic backdrops with designs by Nina Dunn.

The return of Cleopatra is a chance for audiences to once again be captivated by this unmissable retelling of a remarkable woman’s story. The Queen of all Ballets: Cleopatra is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Thursday 6th to Saturday 15th March 2014. Book online at or call the Box Office on 0844 848 2700.


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