For children who have yet to attend a live show, or are a little too antsy when it comes to sitting still for extended periods of time, there’s a show in town that just might present the perfect solution.
Showing this afternoon at Abu Dhabi National Theatre, this children's ballet – which runs for the not-too-short, not-too-long, just-right duration of 40 minutes – brings a 19th-century fairy tale to life. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by the UK's Northern Ballet company, turns the story into a charming ballet for children and gives little ones the chance to see the magic of a live show that combines music and dancing with theatre.
“My daughters both looked sceptical at first when I explained the characters wouldn’t be doing any speaking and would just be dancing,” says Leanne Mar, a mother of two from the UK, who attended the Saturday performance at the Madinat Theatre in Dubai. “But it didn’t seem to matter at all once the show started; the girls were held rapt and absolutely loved it.”
Mar’s 6-year-old daughter, Arabella, twirled out of the theatre at the end of the show with her arms high above her head. “I want to be a ballerina when I grow up,” she announced, fluffing the pink tutu she insisted on wearing. “I want to be Goldilocks.”
Indeed, dozens of boys and girls, the latter decked out in layers of tulle, danced their way out of the theatre, obviously enchanted by the tale of a mischievous little girl with golden curls who gets into trouble in the forest when she makes a questionable decision of making herself comfortable in a stranger’s cottage.
In the show, four musicians on the piano, flute, cello and clarinet are nestled to the side of the stage, providing the musical accompaniment to the dancing. Meanwhile, on stage, the dancers flit in and out of the evocative sets.
This adaptation introduces three new characters to the beloved fairy tale – Goldilock’s mother and two woodland creatures, a friendly Blue Bird and a stylish Fox, who befriend Goldilocks through a playful game of hide-and-seek in the forest. “At first I thought the Blue Bird was a dancing tree,” says Aya Abu Ragheb, 7, from Jordan. “But then I knew he was a bird because he’s always flapping his arms like wings.”
But even with the new characters, the story stays true to its classic roots and younger children will find it easy to follow, thanks to the dancers’ animation, which is both commanding and demonstrates emotion, while also conveying the tale.
There’s no question in anyone’s mind that the porridge Goldilocks tastes and then devours is irresistibly delicious, considering her enthusiastic tummy rubs, or that Baby Bear is devastated at the sight of his broken chair.
“I thought the bears were going to eat Goldilocks at the end because she’s so naughty,” says 5-year-old Aahil Subramanian from India.
But instead, Goldilocks is obviously apologetic and upset at being called out for her behaviour. Her curiosity simply got the better of her. The ending is heartwarming – as the bears forgive her after she learns her lesson and befriend her rather than turning her into their supper – and it is also educational in its message. Nothing comes out of holding grudges, children learn, and you can make friends anytime, in the most unexpected of places.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by the Northern Ballet company, Abu Dhabi National Theatre, 4.30pm today. Children under-2 get free entry. Tickets from Dh125, are available at tickets.virginmegastore.me/ae/family