Judith Melief

Teatro Pavana was founded in 1993 in Venice, Italy. I grew up in a creative family. My mother is a puppeteer and since I can remember, crafts, drawings and music have been made at home. Many different creative people came around, they rehearsed and created in the living room. I still remember the day when Antonio Giarola, an Italian producer who organized the Carnival of Venice at the time, came to us in 1986, looking for talent for that famous event. My mother, as one of the first (if not the first!) stilt walkers in the Netherlands, immediately introduced her 3 creative daughters: Hesther and Rachel and me. He was immediately charmed by us and yes, he liked the idea that these 3 teenagers could also do something creative in Venice: Hesther and I did face painting on San Marco Square and Rachel performed as a student dancer with my mother's show. That is where the seed was planted for what Pavana eventually became, in Venice, the city where I fell in love with a handsom Italian, Lorenzo, during that Carnival, until today my husband and dearest colleague. Venice, the city of masks, imagination, beauty and tranquility. After graduating from the Amsterdam School of the Arts, I soon left for Venice to work on a future life there: it quickly became clear that what I had been doing all my life, performing with my mother and sisters, was something that needed a follow-up. Lorenzo and I started making our first real act of our own: Folletti! The squares and parks of Venice became our rehearsal room, the masks our source of inspiration, the water and the tranquility our imagination. In the early nineties, the beginning of Teatro Pavana, we alternated the summers in Amsterdam with the winters in Venice. In the summer touring with our Fiat-Uno through Europe; mainly in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and in winter making new acts, costumes and masks in the Laguna city. What a freedom!!! This went on for years: our acts Uccelli, Folletti, Clarini were born at the time. We performed with all our creative friends: Venetians and Amsterdammers. Musicians, friends we learned to walk, everyone who was open to a “vagabond life” participated. Traveling, performing, partying, rehearsing, creating, philosophizing were the keywords of our Gipsy existence. After years of total freedom, our son Luca was born in 2002. Responsibility for a child called for a more structural life and in 2004 we exchanged Venice for Amsterdam. As a result of a more structural life, we had more time to put in our work. More professional acts were made, rehearsals became more serious. Besides the friends we worked with we made a selection from auditions we organized, we made publicity etc. etc. A turning point in our career was the moment that in 2005, during National Tree Day (this is actual a thing in the Netherlands) We were allowed to give an exclusive performance at the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague for Her Majesty the Queen Beatrix! We had the honor to rehearse for 1 whole day with our act Colors underneath the beautiful chandeliers in the ballroom of the palace. The day of the performance was very exciting: the Queen sat on a chair with her two ladies-in-waiting, just enjoying our performance. Afterwards we were called to her and we laughed, drank and ate bitterballen (typical Dutch snack) together. Another turning point was also in 2005, when we performed intercontinental for the first time at Juste pour Rire, a major festival in Montreal, Canada. From that moment on the world was literally at our feet: Shizuoka in Japan / Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazakhstan in Russia / Toronto, Quebec, Montreal in Canada / Bangkok, Chiangmai, Ko pipi in Thailand / Kuwait city / Doha in Qatar / Dubai / Mumbai, Bangalore in India / all countries of Europe / Taipei in Taiwan / Shanghai, Hong Kong in China / Dammam in Saudi Arabia / Bahrain etc. etc. Das Kleines Fest im Grossen Garten in Hanover has been the common thread and source of inspiration for all of Teatro Pavana's creations. A beautiful 3-week festival in the baroque garden of Hanover. In 1986 I performed there for the first time together with my mother's Mangs Mask Theater. From 1989 until now Teatro Pavana has been part of the festival each time. Harald Bohlmann, the organizer of the festival always gave us the opportunity to try out our new creations there. He gave us the confidence. For me, the beautiful park was very inspiring for new acts: Antilopi, Colors, Giraffe, Le Dame e la Serva, Struzzi, Le Ballerine, Danzanti, Night Colors and Nellie the Hippo were born. New people were brought in through friends and professional networks: costume designers, technicians, photographers, video makers, an office worker. All this has contributed to a Pavana what it is today: an international company that leaves its mark all over the world and gives beautiful, unforgettable, comical, special moments to the public. Our son Luca got older, learned stilt-walking at the age of eight, as did his friends. And so a small new group was created within Pavana: The Pavanini! 8 nice, young people who rehearsed together once a week. Smaller, children's costumes were made, the Colors. They were so enthusiastic and eager. They performed in Hanover and at some other festivals. However, little children grow up and most Pavanini have now become Pavana’s. For me it is very nice to see how a third generation of stilt walkers came into existence within the family. We have grown enormously in every aspect. But to me it still feels like the little club that is on the road… ..that vagrant group of people that has become a family. We travel, eat, talk, cry, laugh, irritate, sleep, snore and create performances together. Exactly what a family does.