This weekend I had the privilege of going to see my friend Sam in a production called ‘Shall We Dance.’ Sam has been gushing about the production for months now as she has been so happy to be a part of it again this year. For several years she hasn’t been able to do the production and this year thankfully she was.
My mom had read posts from several friends gushing about the show on Facebook and asked if I was interested in going with her, I had hoped to go to the show but unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances at the time didn’t book tickets, I’m so glad that my mom decided that we should go! The show was great, funny, entertaining, filled with incredible dancing (of course!) and really showcased the talents from the local dancing schools in a great way.
We went to the Sunday Matinee show (3pm) and while standing in the line to get a cool drink found that a friend and work colleague had bought her daughter to the show too so we sat a while with them. Shall We Dance is probably the longest standing annual production in Durban, It started in 1991 – making it 22 years old this year! It is presented by The Playhouse Company as well as the South African Dance Teacher’s Association. Honestly we were warned that it is an amateur production as it is all the different dancing schools in the region that come together to put the show on, believe me though; you wouldn’t have said each of the dancers danced their hearts out on stage, twisting and twirling through various styles of dancing from Ballroom and Latin American to belly dancing, Spanish to Line Dancing to Ballet.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show, not only was the dancing amazingly choreographed and performed but the lighting and stage setup were simple yet elegant. There were six ‘celebrity’ dancers, Pennyworth and Julia who were Ballroom Champions, and from Strictly Come Dancing, Ryan and Darryl Hammond and their partners (If i remember correctly Mila and Anna) the were splendid as dancers who have danced competitively you could see their true love for dancing coming out. Aside from my friend Sam’s dancing I will say that I enjoyed the young schools dancing so much, they were incredibly talented and the ‘headliner’ from this school was the only male dancer in the school, he stole my full attention as he danced through each number looking and dancing better than some of the girls! If I must be honest though there was another dancer who stole the show out from under the students and the competitively trained dancers noses; Michelle dances with Dance Basics in a division called ‘ THIS ABILITY DANCE’ – this is a play on words as Michelle has a physical disability, she is in a wheel chair BUT she still has the ability to dance. Here is a little more about this dancing;
When we teach wheelchair bound dancers we get into our own wheelchairs and teach this way as it is easier for them to see the movement and understand how to manoeuvre the chair to get the “steps” correct. The three wheelchair dancers are Michelle (who was involved in a motor vehicle accident in her teens), Abby (who has brittle bone syndrome, Osteogenises Imperfecta) and Tachiana (who was born with Birth Asphyxia and has been diagnosed with Spastic Diaplegia) all partnered by three of our more experienced abled-bodied dancers. Michelle together with her partner, Menzie will feature in this year’s annual production of Shall We Dance . Then we have our Deaf students, these young kids come all the way from Inchanga near Pietermaritzburg and whilst there are only 26 students they come from a school that houses 320 deaf children. Our deaf students, (and they are totally deaf) range from the ages of 10 through to the age of 18. They cannot hear the music that we play but are taught the rhythm of each dance and step – they have made our teaching experience something that I am sure many dance teachers would envy ……. Imagine what it is like to be us : every Tuesday when they arrive in Durban for the lesson, Ryan and I each receive a greeting (in sign language) and a hug and at the end of the lesson we get a “thank you” and an “I love you” and another hug goodbye from each and every one. One becomes so appreciative of what one has when you meet inspiring children/people like this.
Of course one of the nights was a fundraising initiative to raise funds for this program.
I must say this was a great afternoon and after two hours of dancing we were all asked to get on our feet and join in, we were taught the ‘grapevine’ and the ‘box-step’ and everyone joined in as we finished the show on our feet dancing together as an audience. What a laugh!
A Big congratulations to everyone involved in the show, it has been called the best show that Shall We Dance has put on, having seen only one of them, I don’t know but I will definitely go back next year to watch these talented young people.
Shall We Dance was from the 13th of September till the 20th of September. It is produced and directed by Neville Letard and Caryl Cusens. If you are able to still get tickets and would be interested in going please do!
P.S. No photos in this post as there are no camera’s/ photography allowed in the theater.