Drag, dancers down, walking frames  and a hell of big dance company


There is an image of a dancer in the Night Out in Albany which sums up one of the standout dance tours of the year.

The dancer is possibly at the rather tender age of 70-ish. Unusually for a dancer, she has a walking frame. The joy that you see in this dancer  sums what this show brings to communities, encapsulated by dancer/choreographer Agnes De Milles famous quote ,”

“To dance is to be out of yourself, larger, more beautiful, more powerful… This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.”

A Night Out is a brilliant dance show developed by award winning dancer Natalie Allen with  a team of great dancers collaborating that is coming to the end of a seven region tour of Western Australia.

Described as an unforgettable dance time warp this show, performed by five fantastic dancers from around Australia, the show is  in an exploration of the vast styles that draw humans together on the dance floors over generations. This show has real engagement. How many people in their life have ever loved to get up and dance? Lots!

We get very used to brilliant dancers, performing amazing shows  around Australia, but this was so different. In this work, the audience got a chance to join the show. So keen were the choreographers  to engage the community  they did dance workshops on social dance with willing participants from very young to very mature so everyone could play a role late in the show. In most venues, the dancing continued very long after the show.

From Harvey’s historical century old Uduc Hall to Albany’s iconic Entertainment Centre, this was not  just a show for lovers of dance, this was a show for lovers of dancing.

The very essence of the show is a history of dance styles: waltz, ballet, the Charleston, tango, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary dance and more in a very dance hall format.

According to tough critic MANPAC’s Guy Boyce “Last night’s show was phenomenal. The show and embedded engagement should tour nationally!”

Halfway through the  run we lost a lead dancer to a broken foot and almost a second dancer to a dislocated shoulder, but the show must go on. The lead was replaced in a single day of frantic rehearsals  and the other injured dancer relocated his own shoulder and continues on with the tour including hip hop headstands . Now find me a football player  who could do that.

There is so much talk about performing arts and community at the moment. This show taught us a lesson about intersection of these two things; firstly, this was a great way  to engage more people in a town outside those with a direct stake in performing arts, beyond dance school students or acting hopefuls were the dreamers unable to stand still when Push-It comes on the radio; secondly it provided that offering more than just a show is a great drawcard for audiences, and this was so much more than a show going on long after the dancers had gone to bed.

At the end of the day venues from Port Hedland to Albany 2000km apart got to see some of Australia’s best contemporary dancers in a fine show that had relevance for everyone who came, and then got to trip the light fantastic, or whatever type of dance they liked, in the most unforgettable of finales.

A dance de force and a show with extras probably caused a few tight hamstrings and blisters around WA, but audiences will talk about it for years.

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” Martha Graham