That Dance Show
Review by Katie Rankin
I’m not the best dancer. The only time I showcase my best moves is in my bedroom at two in the morning as I blast Muchdance 2002. However, after my many years of dance umbrella performances and movie-musical watching I like to pretend I’m quite the expert. In the Harbourfront Theatre’s summer production “That Dance Show” audiences are not only given a jam-packed hour of movement and energy, they also learn about the history and evolution of dance. I left feeling more respect for the art form and an overwhelming amount of respect for the show’s talented dance troupe.
Produced, directed, and co-choreographed by Heidi Ford, previously seen in Canada Rocks and Anne and Gilbert, the show began with the red curtain half-raised, exposing the legs of the scandalous Vaudeville era dancers who shimmied in black lingerie and red lipstick. Showcasing the burlesque elements of the time, the dancing also demonstrated acrobatics as a male dancer amazingly held himself high above the stage using two red ties attached to the ceiling.
The show only got stronger and more impressive from this point as its narrator, Sara Sheps, took the stage between eras to explain the changes that had taken place in the world that affected popular dance. In the Roaring 20s the female dancers emerged as flappers doing the Charleston, followed by 1930s old-time movie romance with Ford and a male dancer showing grace and beauty in a slow dance reminiscent of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Throughout the show, this change from small-scale slow dances to extremely high-energy group performances kept the audience interested and ensured no dance felt repetitive.
In chronological order, the show highlighted swing dancing, the jazz era during World War II, as well as the 1950s with Grease-like moves such as the mashed potato, the monkey, and the alligator. It seemed that as the show went on the dancers became more energetic and the dancing became both more complex and entertaining. During the 1970s disco performance a Travolta-esque dancer proved that attitude and confidence go hand and hand with talent. The 80s portion began with only the shadows of the dancers visible as they did the classic “Thriller” dance, before morphing into Janet Jackson’s military “Rhythm Nation.”
The most moving dance of the night came from Ford and a group of male dancers performing to the “Roxanne” cover from Moulin Rouge. Ford was lowered from the ceiling on a brace floating with ease until she touched the ground and found herself surrounded by dancers. Trying to escape, she flawlessly walked across their shoulders before they encircled her like a pack of wolves.
My favorite pieces of the night were when the entire troupe produced so much choreographed energy that it made the audience want to stand up and attempt the two-step. Dancers, fans, and wannabes can catch “That Dance Show” at the Jubilee Theatre in Summerside through September.