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Pinocchio: DanceEast

A classic fairy tale for Christmas danced by the worldrenowned Jasmin Vardimon Company I knew that this would be a treat, but my expectations were truly surpassed!

This show is beguiling, heartwarming and quirky in equal measure. It combines physical
theatre, dance, text, and technology to stunning effect. The show opens with Geppetto, the
elderly woodcarver: he is creating a new puppet inside what appears to be a magical tent
with a beautiful blue fairy. We know that something special is happening and are ready to
enter this enchanting world. From the very beginning the dancers draw us in, and the show
clearly delighted the many school children who attended this soldout, matinee performance.

The dancer playing Pinocchio captured all of his innocence and playfulness in the dance
movement incredibly puppetlike while performing the most difficult contemporary dance
and making it all look effortless. Geppetto soon sets out to sell his winter coat to buy a book for Pinocchio so he can go to school. However, Pinocchio is distracted by two gloriously shady characters, who have designs on the poor puppet/boy.

The movement swirls and sweeps and we find ourselves at a circus with a stripy tent. During this scene in particular, the choreography is genius as we see the dancers being pulled into the air on wires and even a husband and a wife puppet, with the husband continually falling asleep. Suddenly Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” blares out, and the circus dancers are performing the most surreal hip hop dance an absolute party on the stage!

Pinocchio dances with the ring master who produces an enticing bag with gold coins. The
children in the audience gasped audibly when Pinocchio went off with the two shady
characters who have reappeared they were clearly riveted by the story. We are swiftly
taken by the clever use of a minimal set to a restaurant.

The versatile dancer playing Geppetto has now transformed into an angry chef; a chef who reminded me a bit of Gordon Ramsey with his demanding, angry mannerisms! The chef is in cahoots with the two conniving characters, all of whom manage to convey malevolence through their movement brilliantly.

Geppetto has set out to look for his lost boy on a sailboat, while Pinocchio’s conscience tells
him to return home. However, Pinocchio does not listen to his conscience and soon finds
himself surrounded by masked dancers dressed in black, bringing suspense and danger, like
all the best fairy tales.

Later these dancers are even more menacing as they appear in donkey heads, dancing around, circling, and terrifying Pinocchio. He feels trapped, scared, and sinks to the ground. A storm rages, the wind is blowing and suddenly we are pitched into darkness Pinocchio has been swallowed by a whale! But all is not lost, Pinocchio and Geppetto are reunited in a tender scene. We learn that what it takes to be a real boy is to feel emotions and to be able to dream. A beautiful and poignant message for everyone, especially after so many months of the pandemic and restrictions.

All eight dancers in this magical story demonstrate their beautiful dance technique, spectacular quality of movement and athletic bodies: they are worldclass artists. However, it’s their ability to tell stories, to fully transform into the characters and to absorb the audience in the emotions of the narrative that are sensational.

A Christmas delight for every age which left the audience grinning from ear to ear. This entrancing production has now finished its short tour, but DanceEast have a fantastic Spring Season lined up.

Booking for the Spring Season opens on Monday 20 December. Why not head to the DanceEast website to see what is on offer – you may be surprised! 

Visit: danceeast.co.uk/watch-a-performance.

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