Creating the Movement of Malory Towers | Q&A with Alistair David

18 Jul 2019

This summer, Wise Children are transforming Bristol's Passenger Shed into the Cornish clifftops of Malory Towers. Directed by Emma Rice, this first-ever stage adaptation of Enid Blyton's nostalgic novels will hit the stage from 19 Jul – 18 Aug. 

We sat down with the show's choreographer Alistair David to find out more about what has gone in to creating the movement of Malory Towers.

What’s your starting point when choreographing a show?

The script first and foremost and the period the show or play is set in also makes a huge impact on which way to go with the language of movement. And then obviously the music- I usually start by listening to the music and making notes and watching stuff to get inspired before exploring what it is physically! 

Who are your influences?

Many! I love the simplicity in movement from the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, in fact all those stars from the golden era of Hollywood I find fascinating the way they moved back then. I’m classically trained so I love the great ballet choreographers – Ashton, MacMillan, Robbins – I also love Robbins’s work in musical theatre too! Then there is Bob Fosse, a total genius, I think most dancers, choreographers and the world of dance in general are heavily influenced by him! Most recently I was in awe of Andy Blankenbuehler’s work in Hamilton, just wonderful! 

What are some of your favourite shows you’ve choreographed for and why?

I have been very lucky to have been given the opportunity to choreograph some of the classics – Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, The Sound Of Music, Anything Goes, Show Boat etc! And I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the production of My Fair Lady I worked on at the Crucible Theatre in 2012!  

Malory Towers in rehearsals. Photography by Steve Tanner.

What has it been like working with Wise Children, particularly Emma Rice?

I have wanted to work with Emma for a long time so I am very excited to finally be doing so and I’m LOVING IT! 

What sort of movement can audiences expect to see in Malory Towers?

I have used influences from the era of the books, swing, Lindy hop, Charleston etc. Also there is some ballet and even a soft shoe shuffle too! 

What’s your favourite memory from your time at school? 

I went to boarding school myself, so I have fond memories of school. I guess my favourite memory is finishing our GCSE’s and having lots of time to hang out in the park, we felt so free!!! 

Quick Fire Round:

Jam first or clotted cream first?


Lacrosse or tennis?


Sneaking out early or midnight feasts?

Midnight Feasts.

Sardines or custard?


Cliff-diving or horse-riding? 


Head Girl or School Rebel?

School Rebel for sure! 

You can catch Wise Children's Malory Towers at The Passenger Shed from Fri 19 Jul – Sun 18 Aug. Tickets are available here