Does anyone still follow the “rules” of etiquette? Be it in the milieu of dance or romance, no matter how many blog posts we might browse exhorting the modern single to adhere to a prescribed course of action in order to secure the affections of the opposite sex, the cold fact remains that the rule book has been thrown out.
Once upon a time the unlucky in love could turn to a plethora of earnest advice manuals for guidance on almost everything. Don’ts for Dancers 2.0 takes both its name and material from the advice manual of the same name, First printed in 1925, Karsinova’s Don’ts for Dancers provides comforting, if somewhat rigid guidance, to the dance or party-going novice and reminds the modern audience that social dancing once involved a level of complex subtext that has vanished or been forgotten.
Choreographed, directed and produced by Nerida Matthaei with musical direction by Nicole Canham, Don’ts for Dancers 2.0 explores the social conventions of dance (and romance) in the seedy setting of the Lonely Hearts Club. The sinuous Leah Shelton (Brisbane’s answer to a modern-day Cyd Charisse) plays ringmaster to a gathering of the loveless and the left-footed consisting of incredibly talented local performers Nerida Matthaei, Alex Baden Bryce and Lisa Fa’alafi.
Shelton pulls the threads of the disjointed narrative together through a series of stern instructionals designed to assist the would-be dancers through the pitfalls and pratfalls of dance and romance. The instructionals flow into a series of routines that embrace a plethora of timeless dance styles: contemporary, jazz, latin, ballroom and even a slyly incorporated spot of Macarena.
While all performances engaged, the standout performance in terms of both the innovation of the choreography and the polish of the performance was a short-and-sweet history of dance; from the Waltz to Gangnam style. Performed with great energy and style by the deliciously campy Alex Baden Bryce and Lisa Fa’alafi, the routine was pure dance magic and provided what much of Don’ts for Dancers 2.0 lacked; a concrete sense of direction and purpose. And for the love of God get rid of the pro-wrestling bit; not only was it way too long but it also didn’t belong with the rest of material.
These slight criticisms aside, I never found the show anything less than charming, totally engaging and damn good fun. One can overthink a review and really, if at the end of the night you’ve laughed, been entertained and enjoyed a fabulous dance performance with massive amounts of style and attitude then there’s not much to complain about. Congratulations must go to Nerida Matthaei and Nicole Canham for bringing to life what has obviously been a labour of love.