(January 2016) Allison Kingsbury, adult choreographer for Oliver! speaks about the joy of dancing and preparations for the show in April 2016
When did you start to dance yourself and what is your favourite type of dancing?
“I started dancing at the age of four and was lucky enough to attend ballet school from the age of 10 where we lear?nt all forms of dance from classical ballet (tough) through to extemporary (wei?rd) with a large dose of tap, jazz, character, etc thrown in. It's difficult to say what my favourite type of dancing is. Tap and show for the sheer exuberance of the music, glamourous costumes and fun but I also loved classical for the challenge. You learn to push your body to its extremes and to get up and try again every time you fall - good lessons for life as well as dance!”
When and how did you start to do choreography?
“The first piece of choreography I created was at ballet school which was a "round" to Pachelbel's Cannon - still one of my favourite pieces of music. What I love about choreography is discovering the light and shade of the music and finding the right steps to fit these nua?nces so the dance and the music blend together. It makes the end result so much more exciting to watch.”
How do you prepare for choreographing a show such as "Oliver!"?
“Listening to the music over and over again and building up the picture in my mind of how the number will look. There are not that many adult chorus numbers in Oliver! but they are big and full of challenges - it's not just about the dance steps but a huge part is creating the scene, giving everyone a different character and reason to be on the stage, fitting them all together and building the number into a climax that will get the audience cheering! I'm lucky to have an enthusiastic chorus who are ready to throw themselves into the number and it certainly helps when everyone is willing to give things a go.”
What are the biggest challenges you face working on "Oliver!"?
“Without a doubt the biggest challenge is getting everyone to rehearsal. Without everyone attending it's virtually impossible to get an overview of how the number is working and, as I said previously, these big chorus numbers are about creating and building the scene. If there are even a couple of people missing you don't know if that "hole" on the stage needs to be filled or if next week there will be someone standing there again! It's very frustrating, not just for me but for everyone who turns up faithfully every week.”
What is the most enjoyable element of working on this show?
“Seeing the show developing and seeing the cast come to life as they gain more confidence. I always try to push people a little bit out of their comfort zone but it's amazing to see how everyone rises to the challenge and the pride they feel when a step or a movement suddenly clicks into place. Some new cast members might start rehearsals saying they have two left feet but I hope by the time we've got to opening night they will have one of each!!”