Michelle Robin­son brings clas­sic chil­dren’s story to life

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY! -

A clas­sic chil­dren’s story is the in­spi­ra­tion for the Michelle Robin­son Dance Theatre’s ma­jor pro­duc­tion for 2016.

Michelle has long en­joyed Frances Hodg­son Bur­nett’s mag­i­cal story The Se­cret Gar­den and three months ago de­cided to retell it in dance and drama for some of Palmer­ston North’s most promis­ing dancers and ex­pe­ri­enced ac­tors.

The Se­cret Gar­den will be pre­sented at The Globe on Septem­ber 3 and 4 at 2pm.

‘‘I was in­spired by the movie, loved the story and saw it as ideal to chore­o­graph for my dancers,’’ Michelle says.

In the story Mary Len­nox, an or­phan, is sent to live with her re­main­ing rel­a­tive in gloomy Mes­selth­waite Manor in York­shire. Left to her own de­vices, she ex­plores the grounds and finds a walled gar­den that no-one seems to know about.

She also dis­cov­ers her cousin Colin, dis­abled and in poor health, locked away in a room and Dickon, a boy who works on the es­tate. Dickon and Mary, through her in­ner strength and in­tel­li­gence, join forces to get Colin out of the sun­less room and into the world.

Once in the gar­den, friend­ships blos­som, ill­ness fades away and they find a way to in­clude Lord Craven, Colin’s griev­ing fa­ther, in the heal­ing.

Young dancers Katie Clear­wa­ter (Mary), Eilidh Gloyn (Dickon) and Abi­gail Lam­balle (Colin) are sup­ported by an im­pres­sive com­pany of 50 per­form­ers, from the ages of 10 to adult.

Michelle says the au­di­ence will love the story about friend­ship and how the chil­dren, alien­ated from their par­ents, de­velop a strong bond be­tween them­selves and, in do­ing so, sort the adults out to pro­duce an en­chant­ing end­ing.

‘‘By do­ing so they get the ne­glected gar­den to bloom again,’’ she says.

The pro­duc­tion also fea­tures Steve Sayer as Lord Craven, Ash­ley Hodges as Lady Craven and Paul Lyons as the gar­dener and nar­ra­tor.

The Se­cret Gar­den is about an hour long, al­low­ing Michelle’s tal­ented dancers to present a first half of jazz, clas­si­cal, con­tem­po­rary and tap danc­ing plus a cameo from her four to six year olds who per­form The Magic Gar­den.

Mekah Dunn will chore­o­graph the tap and jazz, Ash­ley Hodges, two con­tem­po­rary pieces and Rose Brown­lee, the bur­lesque se­quence. Michelle will add her un­doubted skill to se­nior and con­tem­po­rary pieces and a na­tional dance from Ro­ma­nia.

The Michelle Robin­son Dance Theatre’s The Se­cret Gar­den will be staged at The Globe on Septem­ber 3 and 4 at 2pm. Book­ings at The Globe.

Ash­ley Hodges, demon­strates one of her stun­ning dances.

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