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Shake a leg From Dance Ten
Shake a leg From Dance Ten

Hot Shoe Dance Company’s ‘Dance Ten’ featured a variety of dance forms and well-choreographed pieces

There’s a dangerously thin line between a captivated audience and a captive one. At “Dance Ten”, performed this weekend by the Hot Shoe Dance Company, the audience’s mood constantly wavered between the two. One minute they were sighing in unison. Sweeping music flooded the auditorium. Dancers flounced and twirled and spun. Then suddenly, there were shifty looks for escape routes and desperate elbowing of blameless neighbours.

The show was, as always, beautifully choreographed and clearly meticulously worked upon. After all, Jeffrey Vardon, who heads the Hot Show Dance Company, based at the 02 gym, has a reputation for discipline. He has always ensured that his dancers are in peak condition before they get on stage. And he insists on rigorous, repeated practice till they get every bit of his usually complex choreography right.

So it is surprising that “Dance Ten” began almost 30 minutes late, without a word of apology or explanation to the audience. Fortunately, it also began well, with gorgeously perky music from Mynta, and dramatically dressed dancers, in glittering eye make-up and alluringly shiny costumes that changed colours under the light.

The performance, which spanned dance forms from all over the world, featured an interesting variety. There was a steamy Paso Doble set to Roxanne, complete with the smouldering glares and appropriately Prima Donna airs. Energetic jive, with really cute costumes and high-energy lifts and dips. And an interesting, intricate contemporary piece that used Bharathnatyam as a pivot. The highlights were an unusual, stylish shadow dance by the male members of the troupe, done behind the screen, which gradually blended into an attitude-packed chair dance by the girls. And a graceful modern ballet.

As far as the dancing was concerned, all the details were in place. The performers held their postures effortlessly, pointed their toes professionally and skimmed across the stage with astonishingly light feet.

Put together they should have created a show that swept the audience along, on a breathless, romantic ride across the world. Instead, the energy dipped despairingly thanks to an annoying rash of commercials between practically every sequence. It was a lot like watching television at home — without the potato chips. Or the ecstatic detergent plugs. Instead, there was a seemingly endless advertisement that droned on and on and on about a car, like an exceptionally tedious documentary. We heard about the air bags, the flowing curve lines, the ingenious front seat… We were also furnished with excruciating details about O2’s three gyms. And then, just in case we fell out of our seats with excitement and suffered short-term amnesia, they helpfully played the whole lot again.

As a result, the evening took a flabby three hours, losing much steam along the way, despite the Hot Shoe Dance Company’s best efforts.

Unfortunately, good dancing is not all it takes to make a dance production work. As Paris Hilton can tell you, these days, it’s all about the packaging.

SHONALI MUTHALALY

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