Cel­e­brat­ing 70 years of dance

Re­views the 70 years of dance spec­tac­u­lar, per­formed by The Maria An­der­son School of Dance and Drama at The Beck Theatre, Hayes on June 27

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

WHAT would a dance show be with­out the tiny dancers – the new­bies in their lit­tle leo­tards, hair stiff with spray and scraped into a bun just like their older sis­ters.

Al­ways pop­u­lar, these green­horns were a par­tic­u­lar de­light at this 70-year cel­e­bra­tion, es­pe­cially when do­ing the Wig­gle dance.

It was an af­fir­ma­tion, of course, that dance pupils are never in short sup­ply and at the other end of the age group The Rhythm of Life, from Sweet Char­ity, was danced by the school’s adult tap group who im­pres­sively man­aged not to get out of puff or put a foot wrong.

Fa­mil­iar num­bers from mu­si­cals like Beauty and the Beast, Les Mis­er­ables, South Pa­cific and Wicked, pro­vided great op­por­tu­ni­ties for show­cas­ing the va­ri­ety and ex­pe­ri­ence of dancers at Maria’s school which, 70 years on, is mostly run by her daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ter.

Saucy rather than wicked was Bur­lesque – all flicky pony tails, red cozzies and cheeky tap danc­ing – but there was floaty too.

Evo­lu­tion of the Earth in brown tie-dye and Spir­its of Na­ture in green, were both very fluid and spir­i­tual dances, and I’m sure the long rib­bons on sticks would have been re­cy­clable.

The sec­ond half opened with a dose of con­ven­tional bal­let, be­gin­ning with the pri­mary class mak­ing the most of Morn­ing from Peer Gynt. This was fol­lowed by an ex­cep­tion­ally beau­ti­ful piece danced by Grade 3 and Over stu­dents to Waltz of the Flow­ers from The Nutcracker.

There were sur­prises too in this show: I Dreamed a Dream, from the drama wing, had noth­ing to do with Su­san Boyle but some­thing to do with a car­niv­o­rous pil­low. Don’t ask.

Also un­ex­pected (at least to me) were pupils in Cirque du Soleil (from the stretch and lim­ber class) who launched im­pres­sive shapes from a trampoline which were more akin to gym­nas­tics.

There was so much that was good about this pol­ished, pro­fes­sional show, but the length – more than three and a half hours – was too long and I be­gan to wish I’d taken sand­wiches and a flask of tea. How­ever, it was too good not to stay the course and I par­tic­u­larly loved the beau­ti­ful rou­tine to Vari­a­tions. Akapella Tap was imag­i­na­tive in its use of sound from plas­tic cups and sticks which com­ple­mented the raw rhythm of steel caps. I was also bowled over by the stun­ning chore­og­ra­phy for Amadeus where street dance met bal­let – and flut­ter­ing fans.

A nice touch was to see for­mer pupils per­form­ing to celebrate the big an­niver­sary. The dance rou­tine by Old Skool proved they had not lost their touch. It was great to see a guest ap­pear­ance by Gio­vanni Spano (fresh from Vin­cent and Flavia’s tour). With fel­low alumni Matthew Bower he reprised the rou­tine that won them the All Eng­land cham­pi­onships when they were still pupils at Maria’s school.

The show ended on a tri­umphant note with ev­ery­one danc­ing to Whit­ney Hous­ton. It meant my go­ing out hum­ming one of her most fa­mil­iar num­bers: I Want to Dance with Some­body.

Sadly there were no tak­ers – maybe it was the way my limbs had seized up af­ter sit­ting so long – but I’ll keep look­ing.

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