My weekend was spent with a group of wonderfully enthusiastic, friendly and supportive people all dedicated to sharing the joy of their inclusive community with even more people. There were snacks and clipboards, sequins and sewing, waiting and dancing: This is the story of the Irreverent Dance Showcase weekend.
Back in May, when I finished my ‘improvers pointe’ classes, Amanda broke the news that the short piece of choreography we had just learnt fit perfectly to another piece of music. That piece of music wasn’t going to be used during our open class, because it was part of Amanda’s plan for the 2014 Irreverent Dance Showcase and it needed to be kept as a surprise from the audience. As that was due to take place in November – the same month as I hand in my Master’s dissertation – I’d dismissed the idea of taking part as I knew I wouldn’t have enough time. But then she played us the music and I crumbled. There was perhaps only one piece of music that could have convinced me to find time for rehearsals and Amanda found it: the gloriously exciting Onwards, composed by Murray Gold and performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, that appears frequently during Matt Smith’s time in Doctor Who. Once she played it in that dance studio and said there would be a line up of Doctors, I knew the only answer to the question of whether or not I would take part was, “yes, as long as I can be Tom Baker!”
Fast forward to Saturday 8th November and I found myself in a hired space in Camden with a bunch of lovely people, a sonic screwdriver and a very very long scarf. It was the end of four weeks of rehearsals – once a week for me, but several nights a week for those involved in teaching/learning multiple dances and/or involved in costuming – and we had all come together for final practice and a full dress rehearsal. This was the first time I’d seen what everyone else had been working on because, up to that point (no pun intended), I’d only seen our pointe Doctors and the grade 3 ‘Claras’ who were part of our piece that was to end the Showcase. Half of the room was set aside for waiting and preparation while the other side was for run-throughs, and so I spent the day watching people reading, sewing on sequins, eating, applying glitter, practising ballet with headphones on, playing games on their phones and providing as much support and/or space as others needed whilst rehearsals took place around us. Half way through our dress rehearsal we found out that our Kickstarter campaign had reached its goal, so you can imagine how much joy there was in the room once this news was announced! It was fantastic to see all this hard work coming together and we all left the rehearsal room feeling excited about the following day’s performance.
After heading home in the pouring rain and then drying off my pointe shoes and costume ready for Showcase day, I put my hair into rollers (because the Fourth Doctor’s curly hair is an important feature) and got an early night. Sunday arrived and, thankfully, brought some sunshine with it so I headed to LOST Theatre with a scarf tied round my curls and, despite my excitement, managed to keep Twitter spoiler free. As I wasn’t involved in last year’s Showcase, this was the first time I’d seen the backstage area at LOST and it was quite thrilling to see it covered in Irreverent Dance signs and filled with the people and costumes I’d come to know even better during the previous day. One by one the groups ran through their dances for a tech and staging check, the official ‘clipboard bitches’ made sure we were all organised, and the rest of us got to sit in the auditorium and get a rather fantastic preview. Before we knew it, we were finding space for our bags backstage and getting ready for our ticket holding audience to arrive. This was when you’d think the nerves would start to show but, instead, all the performers and helpers offered encouragement and support. As I wasn’t performing in the first half, I got changed, tracked down the lovely colleagues of mine who had come to watch and then took my seat ready for act 1 to begin.
The show began with tap dancing thrift shoppers and ended with twelve Doctors, two Daleks, a lot of ‘Claras’ and a TARDIS. Along the way, the audience enjoyed performances by swing, ballet, circus, contemporary, Charleston, ballroom, commercial and cabaret students, plus some of their wonderful teachers. The annual Beyoncé tribute (I’m pretty sure this is now A Thing) was a glorious celebration of Irreverent Dance joy and attitude, Thriller turned out to be a mash-up and so the zombies also danced to Backstreet Boys, and then we were treated to a rather queer bunch of ‘straight men’ doing ballet to Rufus Wainwright’s Oh What A World. I’m pretty sure Rihanna would have loved the ID take on S&M, and we definitely would have hooked a few Big Spenders with the cabaret number near the end. In classic ID style, the Four Seasons pointe quartet started off traditionally and proceeded to become more and more irreverent. Summer danced to Lana Del Rey while for autumn… well, you know Winter is Coming, right? And our winter was straight out of Frozen, obviously. By the time our wardrobe mistress went on stage dressed as Clara Oswald to reveal that there had been a TARDIS there all along, the audience were very much on our side. To be perfectly honest, they had from the beginning but Doctor Who en pointe only served to make them love us even more. By the time we all paraded on stage to take our applause it felt like we were invincible.
Thanks very much to everyone who planned, choreographed, performed in, costumed, helped out at and bought ticket for this year’s performance. It was a wonderful month of rehearsals for a spectacular show and has brought me closer to so many amazing people… I think I’m looking forward to the next one already! As for you, dear readers, keep an eye on the Irreverent Dance Facebook page for photos from the 2014 Showcase and, if you’re reading this before 11.30pm GMT on 12th November, don’t forget to donate to the Kickstarter!