Hours of practice put into lead role
Performing as a 9-year-old boy is fun, says Bella Rose, lead dancer in Oliver, a stage production opening in Blenheim on Friday.
There has been lots to learn, though, so the 10-year-old has been practising her routines each day after school this term to get it right: Two hours a day, five days a week at first, then four-and-a-half hours, five days a week for the past two weeks.
"I had to miss the school camp," sighs Bella, a year five Renwick School pupil. She is speaking at the Marlborough Dance Centre's studio on Grove Rd, one of three addresses its students use in Blenheim to learn different forms of dance.
Ballet, jazz, hip hop, Irish and highland dance all feature in Oliver and Bella, whose specialty is highland dance and more recently jazz, has had to learn some ballet moves for her lead role.
Her highland dance teacher and Marlborough Dance Centre co-director Robyn Simmons praises Bella's commitment. "We usually have a senior girl as a lead role, it's unusual to have someone as young as Bella as lead. She has had to learn a lot of dances and lots of acting sequences."
Robyn and fellow dance centre co-director Jeannie Mark have set dance routines around the Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist story, to give students of all ages and abilities at the centre time on stage.
Choreography was shared by dancer and dance centre tutor Kelly Webster and three senior dancers, Gemma Adams, Jody Hughes and Nina McCollum.
The story starts at a London orphanage owned by Mr and Mrs Bumble (Sophie Lee and Jessica Crosswell) who sell Oliver to career criminal Fagin (Harriet Lintern).
An "Artful Dodger" (Aroha Weaver) teaches Oliver how to pick-pocket on London streets, brought to life through hip hop dance featuring shoppers, paper sellers, milk maids, rats and mice.
Evil plans devised by a burglar, Bill Sikes (Eliza Elkington), whose girlfriend Nancy (Jessica Single) longs for a different life, are thwarted by a rich man, Mr Brownlee, (Aimee-Rose Harper) who realises Oliver needs a safe home.
Robyn says songs like Food, Glorious Food, and Pick a Pocket or Two, made famous by the Oliver Twist musical, are joined by jazz, classical music and Irish and Scottish songs to best show off the different dance techniques.
Oliver by the Marlborough Dance Centre opens on Friday evening for a four-show season at the Floor Pride Civic Theatre.
There are 6.30pm shows on Friday and Monday and 4pm matinees on Saturday and Sunday.
- The Marlborough Express