When I was offered assistant choreographer position on a pantomime I didn’t quite know what to say. I am a very contemporary based artist and pantomime doesn’t normally fit that criteria.
However I knew it was too good an opportunity to miss, and more than anything, would be a lot of fun.
The Pantomime was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Tunbridge Wells, a picturesque town just half an hour outside of London, commuters paradise, some may say.
It is a rather affluent place, and therefore needed a rather classy pantomime. The best thing about it was I was able to choreograph using not only jazz and musical theatre but I could also sneak in some contemporary too to help the storytelling. This allowed all the acting to be encompassed in the dancing, and not a jazz hand in sight (YAY!). There plenty of high kicks and turns, and as the director said ‘tits and teeth’, something I have definitely learned from Panto.
The show was put on by UK Productions and I assisted Alison Golding on the choreography. There were six professional dancers, mostly commercial, with the two males being chosen for height and strength – perfect for lifting the Wicked Witch, Su Pollard and Snow White herself, as well as frequently the other dancers in the dance numbers.
There were also three teams of children from different local dance schools who performed on rotation. This was a lot of children to work with in such a short period of time (2 weeks before opening night – including 2 full days in the theatre for tech and dress rehearsals).
It was interesting to see how things can be developed in such a short frame of time. Pantomime is definitely about everyone and everything coming together; a jigsaw with many interlocking pieces. The set made a massive difference to the production, which changed a lot of our dances once we were rehearsing with it, but what a production! The special effects were great too. Smoke machines and fireworks galore (and a Dame costume or two)! I thoroughly enjoyed this as a clean break from contemporary.
It was also really beneficial to see the Director’s work. He worked incredibly well under pressure. There is so much in the script yet he could play around with so many ways of how it could be delivered.
Despite this, there was a set way that UK Productions like their pantos to be delivered. There needs to consistency across the board. With all their pantos, they all had the same opening number, creating an element of continuity across the country.
Su Pollard was an absolute joy to work with. I learnt a lot about her professionalism and appreciated her willingness to give anything a try.
Here is us with her at the Opening Night Drinks.
It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to help choreograph Panto, and definitely something I would be interested in doing again. It has boosted my confidence massively, as before I would have said I was only contemporary; however I am predominantly contemporary and able to do so much more, or so it would seem! It was great fun to work in such a different way, and I loved the challenges that this brought. As well as a couple of weeks in London, working and learning from the wonderful Ali Golding. The 4 and 5 star reviews definitely helped with this joy as well!!! ‘Best Panto in the area!’