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Barrowland Ballet in a collaboration with Eden Court highlights the importance of the imagination in new festive show The Gift on till December 23

By Margaret Chrystall

An innovative new family show, created thanks to a new collaboration of theatres, uses its audiences’ imaginations more than anything – Margaret Chrystall discovered this week

A new family show has a lot of fun with some things many people take for granted in the festive season – cardboard boxes, paper and ribbon.

A leap of imagination comes to you in The Gift starring Jo Pirrie and Rander Martinis. Picture: Paul Campbell
A leap of imagination comes to you in The Gift starring Jo Pirrie and Rander Martinis. Picture: Paul Campbell

The Gift has been created by Barrowland Ballet for youngsters from 18 months to five years old – but is definitely designed to be fun for the whole family, explained Jo Pirrie and Rander Martinis, the dancers who will present it at Eden Court until December 23.

For Jo from Edinburgh, it is a return to the Highlands, as she spent a few years based in Evanton with the Plan B dance company earlier in her career.

This year, a unique commission scheme was announced which meant that a plan to create three different small-scale festive productions for early years audiences would be shared between the theatres of three different cities – Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Between now and Christmas 2023, all three shows will be seen in the cities, moving round each year.

And The Gift is the first production Eden Court will have, before it moves on to be seen in the other two locations in 2022 and 2023, when Inverness will get the chance to see the two other productions.

James Mackenzie-Blackman, who was chief executive at Eden Court when the commission was announced, said at the time: “We were delighted to receive such high calibre applicants for our festive commissions and very much look forward to welcoming Barrowland Ballet to the Highlands this Christmas.

“We have already been inspired by their creative vision for The Gift and are excited to present the show for wee ones and their grown-ups this festive season at Eden Court.”

The show starts with the idea of a shiny new toy and a little girl getting ready to enjoy it – except she can’t.

And left with a mountain of discarded wrapping to entertain herself with instead, something surprising happens…

The Gift for families and youngsters from 18 months to five.
The Gift for families and youngsters from 18 months to five.

If you have ever wondered why packaging and cardboard boxes are sometimes the most fun, you will enjoy letting your imagination go mad to play with dancers Jo and Rander – who comes from Brazil.

Rander brings with him the art of capoeira, a martial art, dance style and different way of looking at movement, adding to the playfulness and creativity families might find is the true gift of the show.

Jo explained how the show had been developed by the company’s artistic director Natasha Gilmore.

Jo said: “The way the show was created was very collaborative. Natasha would set a creative task for myself and Rander. We would respond with movement. The responses Rander had were very much influenced by capoeira, and for myself, but more with dance for me.”

Jo mentioned that after one of Natasha’s children had seen the show, she asked if she could have a cardboard box for Christmas!

The Gift is at Eden Court until December 23. More details: https://eden-court.co.uk/event/the-gift

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