The Inaugural Annual Dance AffairWanted:
Ladies and Gentlemen. No dance experience necessary. Must revel in a sense of community and be prepared to find themselves in an engine room for romance. House Band, Meat Tray and Supper on offer. Emcee, “Mints Bitch” and “Bellboy” included in ticket price.

That, dear readers, would be my classified ad if I was promoting the Inaugural Annual Dance Affair 2016, recently held at St Gabriel’s Hall in Reservoir. 

It’s the brainchild of Producer Kate McDonald, who had a dream to create a project that truly celebrated the magic of social dancing. Inspired by what she terms “the ecology” of the dance floor – it’s about embracing relationships, stories, traditions and history; ultimately, what it means to people & their communities.

Originally commissioned by Bleach* Festival on the Gold Coast in 2015, this local version, was commissioned by the City of Darebin as part of its True North Program; which celebrates the arts and community in the culturally diverse suburb of Reservoir, through sound, illustration, music, dance, food and play.

Together with Ian Pidd (Director/Emcee) & Bec Reid (Dance Captain/Choreographer/Community Liaison), Kate created the work via a residency, whereby they researched local dance history, recorded interviews with local dance legends & recruited local dance champions. Now, that’s a lot of local.

Sex on Toast, a ten-piece pop, RnB, synth-funk outfit (including Johnny Bassoon on bassoon – hello ladies) were the house band for the evening. There really is something quite mesmerizing & very nostalgic, about watching dancers (irrespective of their style) performing in front of a live band.

Ian as Emcee had a commanding ringmaster voice & presence. Introducing the format for the evening, as well as the back stories of the individual performers cum local identities – prefacing a couple of the acts with audio recordings of how they met – as well as relaying the history & social fabric of Reservoir within the context of dance. It seems this northern suburb is a hotbed of talent. They’ve got: ballroom for both teens and adults (thank you Absolutely Ballroom with Ken Marshall – how do they physically smile for that long?), The Deluxe Darebin Delights (a tap troupe – that really made me wish I knew how to tap), Ballet Babes (apparently 4 yo Seb is proficient in all genres), Broadway Vixens, Anna’s Go Go Academy (in a tribute to Reservoir’s very own 1960s rock star, Merv Benton – who knew?), Bindaas Bollywood, Quickstep and Italo Tango, Filipo and Sina Alessi – tangoing for 57 years, married for 56. Aaw, too sweet.

This act warrants a paragraph of its own (the name alone) – the Outer Urban Projects Zone 2 R-Fam Dance Crew Reservoir High – 19 kiddies all hip hopping to Fat Boy Slim’s ‘Right Here Right Now’ looking completely chuffed with themselves. And rightly so. It really was quite life affirming. And there was one performer whose getup made him look like the lovechild of Derek Zoolander & Ralph Macchio from the Karate Kid – how fabulous is that?!

There was a break in proceedings for supper – and what a spread it was – all courtesy of Reservoir’s finest food providers. There were finger sandwiches, savoury & sweet pastries & possibly, the best Orange Madeira cake I have ever ever had. Moist, light and fluffy. With the icing on the cake being the icing on the cake. But I digress.

In a dance related melodrama, that was threaded through the evening, actress Daniela Farinacci, posing as “Antonella” the wallflower, was looking for a partner, both in dance & life. I’m happy to report, she got her fairytale ending.

So true to their word, we learnt a progressive waltz, a meat tray was won (admittedly by a hipster from Northcote) and everyone, I mean, everyone had a bloody good time.

Darebin Arts presents
The Inaugural Annual Dance Affair
True North

Director Ian Pidd

Venue: St Gabriel’s Hall, 1 Viola St, Reservoir VIC
Dates: 11 – 14 May, 2016
Tickets: $25 – $15

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