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
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.