Dancing along with Norwich Theatre Royal’s panto babes

The panto babes on stage at Norwich Theatre Royal in Jack and the Beanstalk.

The panto babes on stage at Norwich Theatre Royal in Jack and the Beanstalk. - Credit: Archant

Dee Jago has been choreographing the Norwich Theatre Royal Christmas panto since 2010, and she's back for Jack and the Beanstalk this year. But as well as the professional dancers in the main cast, she comes up with dance routines that she then has to teach to the panto babes.

Aged from six to 11, the panto babes are a very different group to the actors – so we sat down with Dee to find out more about what that job is like.

How do you go about choreographing a show?

I plan the dances ahead of rehearsal, so I have a fair idea of what everyone's going to be doing. Then when I get everyone together, I can imagine all the people and exactly where they're going to be on stage – I really look forward to getting into the studio, and getting the steps out of my head!

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With a fresh group of panto babes taking to the stage in Jack and the Beanstalk, that's got to be a challenge?

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Well, they pick things up very quickly, but it's getting the style that's more difficult. Actually, a lot of time they haven't got an idea of their spacing on the stage, the way an adult would – it just takes a lot of practice and drilling, really, to get it nice and clean.

We've got three teams, with 10 on each team, so 30 kids. That's quite a lot! They take it in turns, but with about 50-odd shows, so they still get to do quite a lot. They've been really well behaved so far. Watch this space, we'll see!

If you've seen the show already, you'll know that those costumes for the babes really are quite something. That's got to be difficult.

It is quite hard to find cowboy costumes that you can dance in, yeah. The costume people are so good though, they really know what they're doing – they have an idea in their heads of what they're going to be doing to start with.

Jack and the Beanstalk is at Norwich Theatre Royal until January 15. See www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk for tickets.

Jack and the Beanstalk at Norwich Theatre Royal sponsors Norwich Ice Rink at Castle Gardens until January 8. Visit http://icerinknorwich.co.uk/

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