There’s always something cheering about entering any kind of arena to find a full and enthusiastic audience awaiting the show. That was exactly what I discovered at BOAT, the city’s wonderful open air theatre on a brilliantly sunny Sunday morning. I should add that at least 50% of the audience of around 200 were in my estimation, were under ten years old. Small kids on the very best behaviour, so what was it that had captured their attention? Dance, ballet to be more precise, that and a classic fairy story, and of course parents with a keen eye on what’s on and is suitable for children.

Over the years I have noticed that dance events, and in particular ballet, always draw huge and enthusiastic young audience, and this was no exception.

Let’s All Dance is a small organisation dedicated to taking ballet to venues of all sizes across the UK, even facing up to the challenge posed by BOAT and dancing on Astroturf! They were more than up to that challenge.

The basic fairytale of Goldilocks and the three bears is pretty short, but the creative team’s inspired adaptation added elements of magic and a baddy to great effect and after some brief instruction into the elements of mime, a classic element of classic ballet, we were off.

The quality of performance was amazingly unhampered by the astroturfing, we didn’t get the girls on point but it really didn’t matter. Holly Moon-Griffith was a charmingly innocent Goldilocks, floating around the stage and making the very young audience understand every element of the story as she tastes the porridge, breaks the chair and eventually falls asleep in baby bear’s bed.

When the bear family return, having earlier abandoned their unsatisfactory breakfast, they find Goldilocks asleep. Hannah Smith as baby is delightfully innocent, Melanie Cox a charming mummy bear, and earlier rather special as a robin, in a brilliant costume.

Daddy bear is danced by the piece’s choreographer Jack Pallister, a lively dad, nurturing and clearly still madly in love with mummy bear.

The story is extended by the introduction of Selfish Sid danced by James Aiden Kay, a lithe and wiry chancer who bounds around the stage with captivating energy.

The story of course plays out, with a happy ending, to huge applause. The audience both young and old loved it, they were attentive, laughed at the right moments and booed when Sid was at his naughtiest. I loved it too, it worked for a grown up for sure, the way they engaged with the crowd, invaded our space from time to time and even tap danced, what’s not to love about a bit of tap!

The whole production is beautifully designed, a simple setting, very pretty costumes by Sophia Sutton and Jane Webster of Tutututu and all set in a post World War II mood. Orit Sutton’s direction has clarity and style, a clean and clear telling of the tale that works so so well, Jack Pallister’s choreography is delightfully pretty but also includes some great comic moments and gymnastic feats too.

I am full of praise for a company like this who are properly dedicated to taking dance out and reaching audiences both young and old, and above all doing this so well. You can find out more about the company and upcoming performances at and I encourage you to do just that.

Andrew Kay

12 May

Brighton Open Air Theatre


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