Kes, the iconic film based on a bestselling book, is to fly again - this time as a dance theatre production thanks to a real life Billy Elliot from South Yorkshire.
It’s the project of Barnsley born Jonathan Watkins, aged 29, who joined The Royal Ballet School aged 12 and is now an award-winning choreographer.
He is about to realise a lifelong dream after transforming Kes into Sheffield Theatre’s first ever dance production to play the main stage at the Crucible.
Jonathan, originally from Worsbrough, had lots of encouragement from the venue’s acclaimed artistic director Daniel Evans and the backing of Eleanor Hines, wife of Kestrel For A Knave author Barry, who now suffers from Alzheimer’s. She has attended a rehearsal.
A celebrated cast of dancers have been brought together and top secret puppet techniques are being developed to make the kestrel appear to fly, in the most eagerly anticipated reveal since marionette horses took to the West End stage in War Horse.
Featuring eight professional and 20 young local dancers, it will get its world premiere at the Crucible on Thursday, March 27,running until Saturday, April 5.
In an exclusive chat with The Star - watch the video ar thestar.co.uk/video - Jonathan, aged 29, said of his production of Kes: “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. It’s in your blood when you grow up in Barnsley..
“The story is so poetic and expressive - showing two worlds, one the confinements of school and home, the other where the relationship develops between the boy and bird.
“It’s faithful to the book and the film, because Barry did the screenplay. But I wanted to reimagine it in a different medium, through dance.”
London based dancer Laura Caldow, who plays Billy’s mum, said: “Jonathan’s passion for this is overwhelming. He’s protective of the story but he’s very open to our input.
“It’s not abstract dance, or elitist. If you’ve never seen dance before, this is an amazing opportunity.”
Melbourne born dancer Anton Skrzypiciel, 53, who plays headmaster Mr Gryce, said Kes, about a boy who turns his life around after finding and training a kesterel, has universal appeal. He said: “It deals with the alienation kids can feel in their surroundings as they look for something to attach themselves to.”
* Tickets are £19 to £21, booking fees may apply. Buy in person, call the Box Office on 0114 249 6000 or visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.