Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Sundial Theatre


As the new school year gets back in swing, we take a retrospective look back at what happened at the close of last term...

From 3-6 July at the Sundial Theatre Cirencester, local dance school, Cirencester Creative Dance Academy (CCDA), staged their annual dance show.  CCDA's summer show is always a highlight in the local calendar and, despite the performers ranging from just 3 years old to 18; the quality of their performances is surprisingly professional.  This year CCDA surpassed all previous shows and included a truly amazing, one-act, balletic version of the C.S Lewis children’s fantasy novel, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Principal, Katherine- Lucy Bates, choreographed and directed a contemporary ballet that, although has been staged in the US, has never been performed professionally in this country. 

The ballet, which mirrored the original story throughout in terms of style and period, was set in wartime England with the 4 leading characters Lucy, Susan, Peter and Edmund portrayed by Amy Williamson, Georgia Bew, Emma Clifford and Sota Ondera.  Each of these young dancers performed throughout with grace, conviction and an authenticity beyond their young years.  The wardrobe, which plays such a central role in the storyline, was cleverly staged by dancers inside what can only be described as giant brown bean-bags – each dancer, with arms and legs stretched out, formed a panel of the wardrobe.  This imaginative staging allowed the ballet to flow from scene to scene with great continuity.

The casting for this production was superb.  The talented Kathryn King played Tumnus in brilliant character, the White Witch by the very poised Caley Merchant and the immensely gifted and graceful Molly Beebee played a truly regal and stunning Aslan. One of the great skills of CCDA’s shows is the way that Katherine integrates the older more experienced dancers with the very youngest – this production was no exception.  The audience was delighted by the irregular appearances of the very youngest dancers and, on one occasion, dressed as the most adorable little owls. Their costumes, like all of those in the show, were absolutely stunning and so cleverly put together.

The second part of the evenings’ entertainment was a patchwork of dance styles that included tap, modern, jazz and street.  Here one could see the children let their hair down, so to speak, and really express themselves in their own way through both song and dance. The evening was truly entertaining and is definitely not just for the friends and relatives of the dancers.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in terms of choreography and staging, was worthy of a far greater audience than the Sundial can produce and suggestions have already been made that Katherine should discuss this production with a professional dance company…watch this space!

Michelle Folt-Holt July 2013 

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