Dance Interview: The Queen Show – Grace In The Galleria, Or Some Ballet To Love

October 8, 2021

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By BRUCE DENNILL

The Queen Show, a celebration of ballet and dance choreographed to the timeless music of Queen by Michael and Angela Revie, is the first live professional ballet and dance performance in Fourways Mall, celebrating life and positivity while observing all social distancing protocols.

 

COVID-19 and venues: there has been a whole range of challenges for artists. Taking The Queen Show into a shopping mall is, among other things, an innovative way of taking the material to new audiences. What’s that been like?

 

Michael Revie (MR): It’s very different. We’re normally only in that environment for flash mobs, for 10 minutes at a time. Now, it’s a whole theatre set-up, but without the wings on a normal stage or some of the other amenities. That puts pressure on us as the choreographers and the dancers – we have to look lovely and be completely calm offstage all the time. But otherwise, people in the mall will know we’re there – we’ll be making plenty of noise!

 

Angela Revie (AR): We thought we were going to have some barriers, but that’s not the case, so we’ll have people watching on their way to a restaurant or something – should show more people what we can do.

 

MR: We can give Dirk [Badenhorst, the show’s producer] a microphone and he can go out and do some ticket sales!

 

Physically staying in shape during the pandemic can’t have been easy. How did you guys manage – and Mzansi Ballet in general?

 

MR: We have a really great cast, with a couple of new guys who both look great and are fantastic dancers. For me, trying to stay in shape has been tough. I’ve had sore back, and I broke a finger, so it wasn’t easy doing the usual stuff I do to keep fit. But I think the adrenalin might overtake the stamina, so I should be okay…

 

AR: The cast are all so driven and dedicated. Nobody can force you to stay in shape, so they do the work themselves – and they do. We’re lucky to have these guys.

 

Choreographing to Queen music has in its favour that the songs are almost universally loved. But because they’re so well known, many of the songs already occupy specific emotional spaces for individual listeners. Did that affect your approach to putting the show together?

 

AR: I chose songs that spoke to me. It was not only about the big hits. It was important for me to make a connection with the song as I thought about the choreography. We also tried to have variety as we drifted into different styles – ballet, contemporary, even a bit of acrobatics. In that way, the show is just like Queen the band. There’s not only one style; they always tried to give everyone something.

 

MR: Exactly. We celebrate music through dance and dance through music.

 

Did you try to fit what you did to some sort of narrative or was each song a standalone episode?

 

AR: There was no overall narrative. It’s more of a variety show, with stories within single songs.

 

MR: Again, we were striving for balance, so not all the rock songs together in one place or all the ballads together in another. You might here something new – a song you didn’t know was Queen’s, even. And sometimes, an instrumental can speak as loudly as a song with Freddie singing in it.

 

The scaffolding tower on the stage adds a vertical dimension and an opportunity for different physical movements and spectacle. How was that developed?

 

MR: The girls are very good at hanging onto things, doing splits across bars and the rest. For the guys, it’s a bit harder – they need to be strong, but they also need good technique. As we introduce new ideas there, we still try to use classic lines – to use stuff you won’t see at the circus, but are also great to put in if we’re able to include what they do.

 

AR: With the scaffolding, you can spin, move, turn inside of and outside of – it’s an opportunity for new moves.

 

The costumes are stark and sexy. How were they decided on and how important are they for the show’s overall impact?

 

AR: They’re very important. They draw everything together – dance is a visual medium! David [Hutt, costume designer] came up with some great looks, based on some of the outfits that Queen wore on stage, and that take you back to watching Freddie perform. We also have Alison Lee Sischy on our cast, who is also a designer and who knows so much about fashion.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”default_sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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