‘an ambitious, compelling and, ultimately, moving new ballet’

The Telegraph  


‘Jonathan Watkins’ gripping production employs subtleties of gesture; posture and phrasing to create a thoroughly modern take on George Orwell’s classic’ ‘slick moves in a brave new take on Orwell’s masterpiece’  ‘Exudes tension and anxiety, switching with lighting ferocity through the emotional gears

The Guardian


‘This is gripping storytelling- the ballet equivalent of a page-turner’

‘Watkins has taken narrative ballet to a new level of innovation in a production that clearly conveys the novel’s essential themes, without a word of Orwell being spoken’

The Stage


‘Slick moves in a brave new take on Orwell’s masterpiece’

‘exudes tension and anxiety, switching with lighting ferocity through the emotional gears’

The Independent 


‘Orwell’s novel makes a successful transition to the stage thanks to expensive dance language’

The Financial Times


‘A masterstroke in dance’

‘Watkins’ production is as chilling as Orwell’s original vision’

The Yorkshire Post


‘an exciting ballet that represents the doomed idealism of 1984 with considerable style and a clarity that matches the impactful simplicity of Orwell’s prose’



‘An innovative, eclectic mix of enthralling dance and well-chosen theatre production elements’

‘1984 is a must-see show’

The Public Reviews

‘George Orwell’s dystopian novel is a challenging subject for the wordless medium of dance, but this is a slickly impressive piece of staging in which movement, music, design and striking visual effects make a strong combined impact’

The Sunday Times

‘This emotional and sexually charged production should not be missed by those who enjoy contemporary theatre at its very best’

The Sunday Mirror

‘Choreographer and director Jonathan Watkins brings George Orwell’s 1984 leaping and dancing into the twenty first century with his gripping take on the dystopian classic’

‘a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art’

The State of the Arts

‘1984 is an innovative and thought-provoking modern work’

‘The production is dramatic, moving and utterly enthralling, and a beautiful adaptation of the original story’

The Huddersfield Examiner


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‘What is so extraordinary about Barnsley-born choreographer and director Jonathan Watkins’s witty and moving adaptation is the grace and beauty which he imparts into such bleak circumstances – an everyday life faithfully and unromantically imagined but one where the human spirit still battles to soar free’…..

‘This unique production hits every note near-perfectly, bringing together an insistent and compelling new musical score, ravishing movement, puppetry and top notch performances to create a really special and fast-moving experience



‘Watkins develops a symbolic language which, in its latter stages, becomes genuinely too powerful for words. The newspapers Billy delivers come flying back, first held aloft by the ensemble to suggest the snap and thrust of wings; then later containing the fish and chips which he buys instead of placing his older brother’s bet, leading directly to the destruction of the kestrel’

The Guardian


‘..makes your heart soar’

‘a terrific crowd-pleaser’

Daily Telegraph


Sunday Times



Public Reviews


‘Watkins has taken a story rooted in Yorkshire soil and turned it into a leaping, soaring work of dance. It takes some nerve to do that. He has looked this extraordinary challenge in the eye and faced it down. Kes was the name of the film based on the book A Kestrel for a Knave written by Barnsley native Barry Hines.

‘The book and the film were both instant classics, mining the truth about working class life in the North of England in the late 1960s. They also spoke eloquently of the importance of hope when it comes to survival. Hines also knew that survival without hope is just existence and that’s what many thought the working class of the North were doing – existing; little better than animals. Hines showed the humanity in all humans with his wonderful story. Watkins has done the same with his dance work inspired by Kes’

‘A beautiful and heart-breaking piece of work’

Yorkshire Post