DanceEast premieres Little Prince as imaginative Christmas show for families
PUBLISHED: 16:09 07 December 2018
DanceEast are staging the world premiere of a new festive dance work The Little Prince next week. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to choreographer Luca Silvestrini and soprano Donna Lennard about this innovative production
In recent years DanceEast have offered an inventive alternative to the traditional pantomime by commissioning new family shows designed to capture the imagination of audiences of all ages. From The Little Match Girl to The Borrowers they have offered a heartwarming tale to boost the Christmas spirit and this year they have co-commissioned Protein Dance to introduce modern audiences to the story of The Little Prince.
Choreographer and Protein’s artistic director Luca Silvestrini is looking forward to unveiling his take on the traditional story. “It is a story which is very well known in Europe. I remember it being read to me as a child but I was surprised to learn that it is not so familiar to people over here in the UK, so it will be great to introduce them to something wonderful and traditional and yet new to them.”
Luca is staging the narrative dance piece as a fusion between movement, music and live vocals supplied by opera singer Donna Lennard who appeared in another Protein show, May Contain Food, which was staged at the Jerwood DanceHouse.
This show is a little different for Donna because unlike her previous performance where she just sang, this time she has been persuaded to move with the dancers. “It’s a real challenge,” she laughs, “I have been persuaded to do a little bit of dance. My background is always been performing and in opera you play a character, so that is not a problem but getting my body to do what it is told has been an interesting experience but an hugely enjoyable one.”
As a singer she has always enjoyed being part of the creation of new work. “That has been mostly in the field of opera but this has been a fascinating new experience because it is much more collaborative. I am used to being handed a score and then going away and learning it. Here I have been asked to contribute ideas, amend pieces of music, improvise and now move, it’s been a wonderful learning experience. You can see how new work like this comes together and takes shape.”
Luca is giving this re-telling his own slightly idiosyncratic take on the story. The audience is introduced to The Little Prince’s story by a pilot stranded in the desert.
We learn how The Little Prince leaves behind his own tiny asteroid and beloved rose and journeys through the universe, coming face to face with the baffling world of grown-ups.
Once on planet Earth, the Little Prince is welcomed by a mysterious snake and a truly wise and friendly fox before encountering the lone pilot. Together they discover the power and beauty of friendship and the complexity of love.
Based on the world-famous story by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince is brought to life using Protein’s award winning mix of dance, humour and spoken word. With an original score by Frank Moon, Protein’s new show invites us to look at the world through one’s heart and to reconnect with our inner child.
Luca says that he was keen to show how confusing the world can be to the straight-forward thinking of a child. “We aim to challenge audiences of all ages to view the world through their hearts and reconnect with the child that’s in us all.”
Although The Little Prince is billed as a family show, Luca is keen to point out it also has a wide appeal to those who don’t have or wish to attend with children, particularly if they remember the story from their childhood.
The story is performed by four dancers using Luca Silvestrini’s trademark style of dance, humour, words and music that is set to engage audiences on a variety of levels.
Luca Silvestrini said: “I am really excited to bring to life such a beautiful and important parable. The Little Prince’s journey to other asteroids and planet Earth is both magical and transformative and is a relevant example of what should really matter in life. Love, friendship, and even loss, take centre stage in this story as children make discoveries and their grownups are reminded that they were once children too. I’m incredibly lucky to embark on this journey with a fabulous team of artists and we are creating a theatrical experience that will entertain and connect the entire family.”
The Little Prince will have a five-day run at DanceEast, from December 12-16. In addition to the eight performances at the Jerwood DanceHouse, Protein will also be holding a workshop for children aged 7 – 11 years at DanceEast on Saturday 8 December.
For more information contact the box office: 01473 295230 or go online to danceeast.co.uk