Get ready to sweat at Dance Marathon!
Bluemouth inc. have teamed up with Harbourfront Centre Co-Production and some surprise guests to re-create a Dance Marathon, a popular event borne in Depression-Era North America.
The venue staging is reminiscent of a North American high school auditorium converted to a dance hall; a DJ, live band and a few projector screens give it a modern twist. It’s immediately clear that this is not a traditional stage show!
The audience’s initial bewilderment transforms into social awkwardness as contestants find their feet – literally – on the floor next to a dance partner. If you don’t have a dance partner, not to worry, one is assigned to you! The rules: feet must be moving at all times and knees can’t touch the floor. Then contestants are set to a dancing start, with a ringmaster styled emcee guiding the process, and a ref in roller skates surveying the crowd for rule-breakers. The music ranges from disco to big band, so participants boogie the night away to their favourite tracks whilst being entertained by the performers. Audience members and performers alike are randomly eliminated throughout the evening; it’s still a competition, after all!
But which audience members are actually performers? Who is watching whom? Since most audience members are participating and the staged contestants aren’t apparent, the “fourth wall” separating audience members from the performers is shattered. However, having anticipated when marathoners are likely to get a little tired, the production seamlessly transitions to performers doing solo and group numbers. These are performed in a variety of dance styles and other entertainment forms, therefore it’s not just for those kinaesthetically minded.
Specifically contemporary dance pieces are performed to change the mood, depicting the emotional and physical challenges of actual dance marathoners from Depression-era North America. Although there’s no story being told per se, the Marathon audience members feel a range of emotion: from elation to fatigue, child-like glee to timidity, competitiveness to admiration. Inhibitions are cast away as the night goes on, creating a sense of belonging and intimacy amongst participants. Indeed, the Marathon achieves its goal in manipulating the audience’s emotions, whilst simultaneous creating a fun and playful environment for all.
Words of advice: make sure to wear loose, comfortable clothing and drink plenty of water during the show!
9-14 Aug 1915 (2300) @ Traverse, Lyceum Rehearsal Room