Pinocchio in dance form

Jasmin Vardimon Company bring the premiere of Pinocchio, a brand-new adaptation of Carlo Collodi's classic fairy tale, to Worthing (Pavilion Theatre, November 15, 7.30pm).

Choreographer Jasmin has created a new adaptation of the classic fairy tale which will be performed by her dancers: the tale of Pinocchio the marionette as he embarks on a journey to become a human boy.

Pinocchio will combine physical theatre, quirky characterisation, innovative technologies, text and dance to examine the idea of what it is to be human, as Jasmin explains.

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Jasmin, who has recently choreographed The Royal Opera House Covent Garden’s production of Wagner’s Tannhäuser to great acclaim, said: “I find unique curiosity in re-discovering this original 1883 classic tale. Going back to Collodi’s original novel allow us to critically examine the assumptions of ourselves and others about what it means to be human.

“I wanted to create a piece that was suitable for a younger audience by taking a well-known story and reimagining it through dance theatre. I chose this one because of the story’s quality and also its unique structure and also because it centres on important questions about humanity. It asks what it means to be human which is still a very important question for our times.

“When I researched it, I discovered that it was written at a time when Italian society was morally and philosophically engaged in a debate about the nature of education, whether peasants could be educated. It raised a lot of questions about equality and allowed me to explore aspects of being human. It is like a journey that Pinocchio goes on. The original story is much more complex than the Disney version.

“This puts Pinocchio as a slave, somebody that is directed by others, somebody who does not have the ability to decide for himself. It is a fairy tale, but it is a fairy tale about a working peasant rather than princes and princesses.”

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And it’s a tale which lends itself particularly well to dance.

“I feel that the human body has all the ability to tell stories especially if it is used to its full capacity. The work is a dialogue between dance and theatre. All the stories can be controlled and manipulated through the human body.

“It all happens through the excellence of the dancers. My main task is to follow the structure and the questions that the stories ask… to find an imaginative way to retell the stories.”

Work on the show started in January with interruptions from other projects: “I did the research and then did the opera and then came back to Pinocchio. The premiere was at the end of August.

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“This is a living art form. It is very much a living, breathing organ that changes with the dancers and is affected by the changes in the stage and the venues. The story is still the same story, and the way that we tell the story is the way that we found to tell it, but the piece itself is evolving. By the time we get to Worthing, it will all be much more into character.”

A leading force in British dance theatre for nearly 20 years, Jasmin has built a reputation for challenging, exciting and visually-stunning dance. Born and raised in Israel, she has been an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells since 2006. Jasmin has also been associate artist at The Place in 1998 and at Yorkshire Dance as a partner from 1999-2005. Last year she was awarded an honorary doctorate from The Royal Holloway University.

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