Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 25°C

min temp: 15°C

Search

DanceEast hosts Jasmin Vardimon's Pinocchio on Ipswich Waterfront

PUBLISHED: 18:24 13 December 2016

Jasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to Christmas

Jasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to Christmas

©Tristram Kenton

DanceEast is hosting a family-friendly production of Pinocchio during the run-up to Christmas. 
Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to choreographer Jasmin Vardimon and production manager Ed Yetton about getting the show up and running

Jasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to ChristmasJasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to Christmas

Fairytales and folk stories form the very heart of our traditional Christmas family entertainment, and yet if you look at the original stories, they can be fairly grim – both in name and nature.

But, according to choreographer and theatre-maker Jasmin Vardimon, not only do children like a bit of dramatic nastiness, folk stories often were created to tell a moral tale, and these are stories that have a wonderful timeless appeal to people of all ages.

This Christmas she is presenting the classic children’s story Pinocchio, but don’t expect a cute Disney-style reading of the tale. Jasmin has gone back to the original story to come up with something imaginative and unique. Fairytales and folk stories form the very heart of our traditional Christmas family entertainment, and yet if you look at the original stories, they can be fairly grim – both in name and nature.

But, according to choreographer and theatre-maker Jasmin Vardimon, not only do children like a bit of dramatic nastiness, folk stories often were created to tell a moral tale, and these are stories that have a wonderful timeless appeal to people of all ages.

Jasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to ChristmasJasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to Christmas

This Christmas she is presenting the classic children’s story Pinocchio, but don’t expect a cute Disney-style reading of the tale. Jasmin has gone back to the original story to come up with something imaginative and unique.

Jasmin, who grew up on a kibbutz in Israel, moved to the UK in 1995 and has become one of the nation’s leading choreographers, founding her own company in 1997. She has created a career based on combining dance with physical theatre, text and technology, to create an immersive evening.

She was last at the Jerwood DanceHouse in 2015 with her piece Park, which examined the communities of people that grew up around public spaces.

In Pinocchio she will be looking at what it means to be human. Pinocchio tells the tale of a marionette, lovingly crafted by a lonely toymaker and brought to life by the Blue Fairy, who then embarks on a fantastic journey to become a human boy.

Jasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to ChristmasJasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to Christmas

It’s a show which Jasmin is hugely enthusiastic about, and although it has dark elements, this is balanced with quirky performances, wit, humour and innovative technologies. “It is very much a family show and something everyone can enjoy together,” she assures.

She acknowledges the theatricality of the piece by utilising a uniquely dramatic choreographic and directorial style. It balances the sense of mild threat that lurks in the dark wider world with a feeling of playfulness –both in the quirky characterisation and the way the show is staged.

“I wanted to make an engaging drama which everyone could enjoy, but I wanted it to say something as well. Pinocchio is a wonderful character with which to look at our world, so you get a lot of insightful humour as he looks at how we do things, but there’s also an acute observation of behaviour as he undertakes a wonderful journey of discovery.

“It asks questions about us which are as relevant today as they were when it was written in the 19th century.”

Jasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to ChristmasJasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to Christmas

She chose Pinocchio because it has a unique storytelling structure that allowed it to adapt to the world of dance more easily. It is written in a very episodic nature in a series of short chapters as Pinocchio encounters one situation after another.

“It was written in 1883 by Italian writer Carlo Collodi, at a time when the Italian upper classes were worrying about whether the peasants could be educated or not. The intellectuals were discussing whether the children of peasants could go to school, be educated and become what was described at the time as ‘real boys’, or were they destined just to work in the fields rather like donkeys.

“Unlike the famous Disney version where Pinocchio becomes a real boy by telling the truth, the original 19th century story is much more complex and is about the challenges and difficulties we all have to face in our lives and the decisions that we are forced to make. What I am looking to bring out of the story is how he can recognise human emotion in himself and in others.”

Jasmin has spent a lot of time refining the story and bringing it down to manageable length, and working with the dancers in rehearsals to define the characters and emotions through movement.

Jasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to ChristmasJasmin Vardimon is staging her critically acclaimed production of Pinocchio at DanceEast in the run-up to Christmas

Although she loves to combine lighting, sound, text and special effects in her performances,
the main narrative thrust still has to be carried through dance. “I always believe that the human body has an incredible capacity to communicate and to tell stories. My work over the years has always explored the dialogue between dance and theatre, and I enjoy combining those elements of movements, text and theatricality.

“So, in Pinocchio, there is a wonderfully imaginative set, we
are using animation and we even have some amazing life-size
puppets played by the dancers, which are stunning. I am really pleased with the effects. We also have flying, and the whole set is designed as a massive marionette theatre. All the furniture and all the scenery is flown and is coming down at the start of each scene, so we are enjoying playing with real-sized puppets.”

For her, though, everything comes back to the story. While dance can be about pure movement, for Jasmin, dance is a means of communication, and that involves storytelling.

“I look at the story and ask myself ‘how can I tell this in the most imaginative way possible?’ This is what we explore during rehearsals; how I work with my dancers. I want to engage with my dancers and my team, as well as the audience. I want to inspire ideas and then we can work with them.

“All these elements combine to provide people with a wonderful experience which I hope is entertaining and thought-provoking.”

One of the greatest challenges in the piece is the fact that virtually all the 36 chapters of the original novel take place in a different location, with an entirely new set of characters. Even with an edited storyline, this would still prove a huge challenge to realise. I went away and talked to the designers and that is where we came up with the idea for the set to be a puppet theatre. Then it allows for quick movement from scene to scene and the theatricality will help make 
the transitions to so many locations.”

This is then augmented by a soundscore which Jasmin has created from a variety of different sources designed to not only tell the story but also establish an atmosphere for each scene. I put it together rather like you would for a film score. I do it once the piece is pretty much made.

“We know what we are doing in terms of movement and what we are doing in terms of story, and then I will go away and pull together pieces of music that will help embellish what we have created.”

Jasmin has enjoyed the challenge of taming such a wide-ranging and classic book.

“It has been a challenge because there are so many scenes, so many different stories – some of them very surreal – so you have to think hard about what it is you are trying to achieve and still be faithful to the original story.

“Also, it’s wonderful to be creating something for families; something that will introduce many people to dance for the first time.”

Pinocchio, by the Jasmin Vardimon Company, is at the Jerwood DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront from December 14-18

Jasmin, who grew up on a kibbutz in Israel, moved to the UK in 1995 and has become one of the nation’s leading choreographers, founding her own company in 1997. She has created a career based on combining dance with physical theatre, text and technology, to create an immersive evening.

She was last at the Jerwood DanceHouse in 2015 with her piece Park, which examined the communities of people that grew up around public spaces.

In Pinocchio she will be looking at what it means to be human. Pinocchio tells the tale of a marionette, lovingly crafted by a lonely toymaker and brought to life by the Blue Fairy, who then embarks on a fantastic journey to become a human boy.

It’s a show which Jasmin is hugely enthusiastic about, and although it has dark elements, this is balanced with quirky performances, wit, humour and innovative technologies. “It is very much a family show and something everyone can enjoy together,” she assures.

She acknowledges the theatricality of the piece by utilising a uniquely dramatic choreographic and directorial style. It balances the sense of mild threat that lurks in the dark wider world with a feeling of playfulness –both in the quirky characterisation and the way the show is staged.

“I wanted to make an engaging drama which everyone could enjoy, but I wanted it to say something as well. Pinocchio is a wonderful character with which to look at our world, so you get a lot of insightful humour as he looks at how we do things, but there’s also an acute observation of behaviour as he undertakes a wonderful journey of discovery.

“It asks questions about us which are as relevant today as they were when it was written in the 19th century.”

She chose Pinocchio because it has a unique storytelling structure that allowed it to adapt to the world of dance more easily. It is written in a very episodic nature in a series of short chapters as Pinocchio encounters one situation after another.

“It was written in 1883 by Italian writer Carlo Collodi, at a time when the Italian upper classes were worrying about whether the peasants could be educated or not. The intellectuals were discussing whether the children of peasants could go to school, be educated and become what was described at the time as ‘real boys’, or were they destined just to work in the fields rather like donkeys.

“Unlike the famous Disney version where Pinocchio becomes a real boy by telling the truth, the original 19th century story is much more complex and is about the challenges and difficulties we all have to face in our lives and the decisions that we are forced to make. What I am looking to bring out of the story is how he can recognise human emotion in himself and in others.”

Jasmin has spent a lot of time refining the story and bringing it down to manageable length, and working with the dancers in rehearsals to define the characters and emotions through movement.

Although she loves to combine lighting, sound, text and special effects in her performances,
the main narrative thrust still has to be carried through dance. “I always believe that the human body has an incredible capacity to communicate and to tell stories. My work over the years has always explored the dialogue between dance and theatre, and I enjoy combining those elements of movements, text and theatricality.

“So, in Pinocchio, there is a wonderfully imaginative set, we
are using animation and we even have some amazing life-size
puppets played by the dancers, which are stunning. I am really pleased with the effects. We also have flying, and the whole set is designed as a massive marionette theatre. All the furniture and all the scenery is flown and is coming down at the start of each scene, so we are enjoying playing with real-sized puppets.”

For her, though, everything comes back to the story. While dance can be about pure movement, for Jasmin, dance is a means of communication, and that involves storytelling.

“I look at the story and ask myself ‘how can I tell this in the most imaginative way possible?’ This is what we explore during rehearsals; how I work with my dancers. I want to engage with my dancers and my team, as well as the audience. I want to inspire ideas and then we can work with them.

“All these elements combine to provide people with a wonderful experience which I hope is entertaining and thought-provoking.”

One of the greatest challenges in the piece is the fact that virtually all the 36 chapters of the original novel take place in a different location, with an entirely new set of characters. Even with an edited storyline, this would still prove a huge challenge to realise. I went away and talked to the designers and that is where we came up with the idea for the set to be a puppet theatre. Then it allows for quick movement from scene to scene and the theatricality will help make 
the transitions to so many locations.”

This is then augmented by a soundscore which Jasmin has created from a variety of different sources designed to not only tell the story but also establish an atmosphere for each scene. I put it together rather like you would for a film score. I do it once the piece is pretty much made.

“We know what we are doing in terms of movement and what we are doing in terms of story, and then I will go away and pull together pieces of music that will help embellish what we have created.”

Jasmin has enjoyed the challenge of taming such a wide-ranging and classic book.

“It has been a challenge because there are so many scenes, so many different stories – some of them very surreal – so you have to think hard about what it is you are trying to achieve and still be faithful to the original story.

“Also, it’s wonderful to be creating something for families; something that will introduce many people to dance for the first time.”

Pinocchio, by the Jasmin Vardimon Company, is at the Jerwood DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront from December 14-18

Ed Yetton: A Life Backstage

While most people who dream of a life in the theatre yearn for the spotlight, for former Ipswich student Ed Yetton his life in the theatre was always going to be either backstage or stuck high in the Gods.

He studied theatre at Suffolk College under former Wolsey mainstay Brian Theodore Ralph but found himself increasingly drawn to the technical side of making magic happen on stage.

“In my first term we had a technical tutor called Frank Burlingham who said he was doing a fit-up for a production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and if anyone wanted to get some experience to come along – so I did.

“I discovered I loved the practical side of things and so then tailored my course more towards the technical side of things. I then studied for my degree while I was working for Eastern Angles, alongside Penny Griffin and Steve Cooney, who were brilliant teachers. They taught me so much and I try to remember how patient they were with me when I am now dealing with people coming into the profession.

“I always say to youngsters ‘I don’t mind how many questions you ask, if you then get things right.’ Much better than asking no questions and then I have to come along later and put it right. That was very much their philosophy. If you don’t know, ask. That’s a lesson I still hold onto.”

After two years with Eastern Angles, he spent a brief period with Aldeburgh Music before becoming chief technician at the New Wolsey for nearly four years, before joining Punchdrunk Theatre for their Dr Who immersive show The Crash of Elysium, staged in Ipswich as part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012.

From there he moved into the world of dance, which expanded his responsibilities and provided a greater challenge. “I have worked for the Arthur Pita Company, Moko Dance, the Akram Khan Company, DanceEast and now the Jasmin Vardimon Company.

“Whereas in theatre you have a strictly defined area of responsibility, in the dance world you find you are responsible for a much broader range of things. With Jasmin I am company production manager and re-lighter – which essentially means I am the first one in the theatre and the last one out.

“It also means that I get consulted about the technical aspects of the show during the rehearsal process. If Jasmin wants to do something technical, like we have flying in Pinocchio, it will be up to me to realise it or flag up potential problems.”

Ed also has to make sure that the set and dance spaces can be accommodated at differing-sized venues when shows go out on the road, which can lead to some interesting and creative discussions in order to get the show up and running.

“At the end of the day I love the creative challenge. I love making theatre happen. I love problem- solving. I love the way that an audience can come in, enjoy a show, completely unaware of the chaos and mayhem that may have been happening just a few hours before, because a bit of kit wasn’t working or something didn’t fit into a particular venue. We have never not gone on and that is something I am very proud of.”

Most Read

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists