A new star is born in Pochontas production
PUBLISHED: 15:50 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:46 07 February 2018
Go To The Gig
Liz Nice spoke to Michala Jane about why Pocohontas was the perfect story for her dance school's latest production
The story of Pocahontas still has the power to mist the eye.
Whether it is true or not that she really did put her own head on John Smith’s to prevent her father from executing him has long been beside the point.
The idea of a young woman, whose simple act of humanity brought pause to the ugliness of suspicion and prejudice during the colonial settlement of Jamestown, seems more relevant than ever.
It is a tale that has captured the imagination of local dance teacher Michala Jane, who, along with her 200 strong dance company, is putting on a show at Norwich Theatre Royal on February 18 to honour the legend.
“I’ve always loved the story,” says Michala, “the idea that this young girl could bring peace and positivity into such an angry situation is touching and inspiring. And there is a local connection too, with Pocahontas marrying John Rolfe, who had a home in Norfolk at Heacham. So it seemed like the perfect show for us to do this year at the Theatre Royal.”
Michala’s dance school – Michala Jane School of Dance, based in Brooke and in Norwich, exists in the spirit of bringing dance to everyone.
“Our oldest dancer, Jean Graham, is 80, while our youngest dancer is Ava Lister, aged just two years and 11 months,” says Michala, with some pride.
The two and a half hour show is a real family affair.
Michala’s husband, Andy Bott, is the musical director, her Mum, Linda Brooks, has made the costumes, her Dad, also called Andy, has done the props and her son Edward, who has a history degree, helped with the research into the Pocahontas story.
Michala’s other son, James, aged 12, will be helping out backstage, and along with daughter Lillian, two, will also be singing and dancing in the show.
Local musicians are involved as well, from singer Nikki Chang, and composer Stewart Burchell, who has written three new pieces especially for the show.
Perhaps most magical of all is that the part of Pocahontas is to be played by Shannon Parfitt, 21, who has been taught dancing by Michala since she was four.
“But we never knew, until this production, that she can also sing,” says Michala. “She just opened her mouth and the most beautiful, unique singing voice came out. The world just stopped for a minute.”
Just as it did back in 1607 when two men went head to head in the battle for Jamestown, a young girl stepped forward, and the legend of Pocahontas was born.
Tickets for the show are available from the box office on 01603 630000 or by visiting www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk. The show starts at 7.30pm on 18 February.