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The Becoming by balletLORENT: From ordinary to extraordinary

The beauty of live performance lies in its raw authenticity.

Although movements can be replicated, there is nothing quite like the energy shared between a performer and their audience.

Every expression is crafted in the moment, each step unique and filled with emotion.

But since 2020, the industry has suffered.

Performance spaces closed due to the pandemic, everyone stayed home and attention spans decreased.

Now, with the ability to watch any performance from a phone screen, the motivation to go and watch a live performance for some has dwindled as fast as you can say ‘Tik Tok’.

Newcastle-based balletLORENT, though, is here to challenge that.

balletLORENT is a unique dance company that goes beyond traditional executions to create stories that resonate deeply with its audience.

It prides itself on being one of the most emotionally evocative companies in the country, digging deep to provide an emotionally-charged performance that simply cannot be replicated through a screen.

Now, balletLORENT is gearing up to present The Becoming at Newcastle’s John Marley Centre, an intimate yet captivating expression of transformation and resilience, as dancers push themselves to the absolute limit.

To discuss The Becoming, balletLORENT and the electricity of live performance, Kate Hewison sits down with the company’s artistic director Liv Lorent.

Tell us a little about balletLORENT

balletLORENT is much more than just a dance company. We make stories that are relatable for audiences.

We’re representative of life and humanity.

You watch our dances and feel moved – you always leave feeling different than when you came in.

The choices I can make as an independent company are wonderful. I can break all the rules.

I can put mothers on stage with their babies. I can cast pregnant women. I can put older people on stage or five-year-olds.

I could do all those things from the point of view of being allowed to – because I’m not working for somebody else or a big national ballet company.

What inspired the concept behind The Becoming and its focus on transformation?

When dancers are performing, they get told to put this costume on or stand in that light.

But ultimately, they must become that fantasy.

Whether that role is Snow White or Rumpelstiltskin, you have to inhabit this character’s journey.

All the dances we do are non-verbal. The dancers don’t talk, they express everything through their eyes, breathing and bodies.

They inhabit a whole way of being, which becomes quite an addiction.

The Becoming is an insight for the audience to watch that process and how a dancer ‘becomes’.

It’s how they go from ordinary to extraordinary.

If you ever speak to performers, they often need to do it rather than want to.

It’s hard work, you don’t necessarily get much fame or money, but you are compelled to keep reinventing yourself and enter the world of imaginary being.

How do you see The Becoming resonating with current societal and cultural contexts?

I want to make things that are transformative and have an uplifting and profound experience for an audience. It’s why we have an audience that comes back.

The Becoming is different than when we did it in the Boiler Shop a year-and-a-half ago.

It’s a more intimate venue at John Marley, people see the dancers close up.

We’ve all had another 18 months of life experience to add to it and think about our dance bucket list, and what daring and wonderful things we want to do in this piece.

During the pandemic, the composer Ezio Bosso died, somebody I had worked with several times in my life, and it was far too early to die. He should have had the chance to live longer.

It made me awfully aware, just like we all experienced in the pandemic, that people can too early cease to exist.

We must make the days count, and we have to be brave and dance where, how and as much as we can until our road runs out.

I’m trying to make something that feels like it’s as important as life itself.

As an artistic director, how do these smaller intimate performances compare to those in larger theatres?

We really enjoy doing site specific work.

As a company, we play big theatres with lots of our fairytales and family work.

But this crew, in an intimate space, packs a powerful punch.

We can do things like dancers dressing and undressing on stage, we can watch the act of becoming in progress.

They’re surrounded by an audience, it’s not a spectacle; it’s like watching a metamorphosis, it’s a shared experience in the room.

It’s one of those things you have to be there to know what it’s like, and to get the emotional and physical charge.

There’s something about watching people jump and spin around right next to you where you get that vicarious charge.

You feel like you’ve had that experience, rather than you’ve watched it from afar.

You feel like all the atoms are bouncing near you.

You can feel the floor underneath you pound against their stamping.

It’s a physical feeling, rather than a remote feeling. 

What do you hope the audience will take away after experiencing The Becoming?

Painfully, we’re all on a bit of a precipice of massive change because of the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, politics and war.

There’s a sense of ‘what on earth is going to happen next?’

All those things are terrifying and awful.

Sometimes to get us through the next week you need to escape into seeing beauty, life and the human spirit.

It’s about getting back up again to find that strength and endeavour to chase the dream, to climb that mountain, to run that marathon, to dance.

The human spirit can override any physical exhaustion.

Sometimes it just pushes through, and that’s the thing I’m celebrating.

How do the costumes contribute to the performance?

The costumes were inspired by everything from the Ballet Russe to John Travolta to burlesque.

They’re all made in calico toile, they are dreams of a costume, they are the beginnings.

It’s the skeleton of a costume before it gets made into lots of different fabrics and colours.

But the silhouette of it is perfect and dreamlike.

As the performance goes on, you watch the whole transformation of dancers starting in regular civilian clothing before becoming extraordinary fantasy dancers.

The dancers keep finding and clinging on to who they can become, until eventually they have to return to the reality of life and real clothes.

What has been the most rewarding part of bringing The Becoming to life?

I think all of us thought after the pandemic things would maybe get easier or better, but it doesn’t really feel like that.

The world has got harder.

There is still a lot of uncertainty and there’s always a perpetual sense that whatever you’ve got could be taken away from you.

That leaves us in anxious times.

It’s always very tempting just to doom scroll and feel worse, but there is something about having confidence in humanity and the power of music, art and change that feels so positive.

There’s also something very lovely about doing this in John Marley, which is our home.

I’m delighted that we’re in the North East, it’s the only place people can see it. We tour nationally a lot, but this is a special one for here.

Being in the North East all this time is not an accident. The people here are absolutely amazing. It’s the best place in the world for me to be making work to preview and premiere.

The spirit and the light; it’s a really good home.

We’re not making things for intellectuals to have a ponder and a discussion about.

This is for people who want their hearts filled.



balletLORENT’s The Becoming runs from Thursday 11 – Saturday 13 July 2024, at 7pm

John Marley Centre, Scotswood, Newcastle NE15 6TT

Tickets: £25/£18

Over 18s only.

June 20, 2024

  • Arts & Culture

Created by Kate Hewison