Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Dance Hall: The Diva Carousel - Cabaret Review

What: Dance Hall - The Diva Carousel
When: 10 - 14 October
Where: The Famous Spiegeltent
Performed by: Mama Alto, Paul Codeiro, Maude Davey, Moira Finucane, Kathryn Neische, Willow Sizer, Clare St Clare, and James Welby

Clare St Clare, Paul Codeiro, Moira Finucane, James Welby, Mama Alto, and Maude Davey
With all the glitter, grace, thrills and chills of an amusement park, Finucane and Smith bring Dance Hall: The Diva Carousel to Melbourne. The Famous Spiegeltent has raised it's big top in Luna Park and Dance Hall: The Diva Carousel brings all of the dreams, desire and daring of the fun park onto the stage.

Finucane and Smith have been touring Dance Hall across regional Victoria and are taking a moment to allow Melbourne into the glory and glamour of humanity celebrating itself with a richness of ideas and urgencies which need to be expressed. The amazing doyenne, Moira Finucane, begins the night with a quote from the iconic revolutionary Emma Goldman - "If I can't dance, it's not my revolution." In Dance Hall everyone dances because it is our revolution!

Finucane and her team are absolutely revolutionary, opening people's minds and hearts one diamante, ostrich feather, and shimmy at a time. She and partner Jackie Smith also always bring some great woman from history to their shows, reminding us that the fight for freedom has been a long and glorious and painful one and that we are not alone. This time it is Emma Goldman - Russian born and American made. If you want some really empowering words to fire you up Google Emma Goldman quotes and prepare to be affected.

The show begins with Finucane's fabulous 'Extemporaneous Provocations' in which she links Goldman to the great outrages of our current times - Kavanaugh, climate change, etc. She is not lecturing though. The art of Finucane and Smith is to drop an idea, dance and sing around it and let it settle in your mind where and how it will. As the title of the segment implies, Finucane provokes. She prods and teases and dares to question. There is a definite point of view, but if you are just listening because a gorgeous woman is standing in front of you in a see-through dress covered in sequins that's okay as long as you are listening!

Dance halls used to be the meeting places of yore and in Dance Hall Finucane and Smith are allowing humanity and freedom meet each other. Having said that, Dance Hall: The Diva Carousel has a stronger lineage to music halls. This iteration is more in the style of variety and strongly reminiscent of the famous Parisian music halls such as the Moulin Rouge. There is exotic dance (Codeiro), outrageous gogo (Welby), witty burlesque (Davey), puntastic comedy (Davey), and the amazing chanteuses Mama Alto and Clare St Clare whose singing transcends the earthly and takes you straight into heaven.

Finucane and Smith are more than just a performance company though. Much (if not most) of their work is about community. Dance Hall has been teaching dance across Victoria and providing those communities with the opportunity to explore their talents and express themselves through performance.

On their travels, in a tiny little town called Yarck (population 548), they found Willow Sizer. Now on scholarship with Finucane and Smith, Sizer is a powerhouse performer with an amazing voice, a dynamic stage presence, and dance moves to impress.

It is perhaps wrong to single anyone out in Dance Hall: The Diva Carousel because every second of the show is magnificent. I almost went hoarse from so much cheering, and laughing and joining in the frolics. I do have to talk about the return of Maude Davey though.

In 2014 Davey decided it was time to hang up her tassles and stop performing nude, but to celebrate her glorious career she created the phenomenally successful show My Life In The Nude. It was meant to be a full stop to that part of her career because she felt she was too old to continue getting naked on stage, but it had so many remounts due to popular demand it almost became its own ironic statement.

I am delighted to announce that Maude Davey is back! In Dance Hall: The Dive Carousel Davey reprises two of her most famous burlesque acts and tops the whole thing off with a new stand up comedy routine as Mother Earth. You should see her polar cap... "It is very attractive."

Earlier I said the show is more music hall than dance hall, but Finucane always finds a way to get us up on our feet and Dance Hall is not exception. Dance halls were the precursor to discotheques and nightclubs and the night begins and end in boogie fever as Welby and Codeira shake their tail feathers and get us all up on our feet to join in the fun.

Dance Hall: The Diva Carousel is more than just the stage show though. Celebrating the great Luna Park you can get the Luna Park experience which includes rides.

I cannot express how exhilarating and uplifting this show is. Don't miss your opportunity to experience Dance Hall: The Diva Carousel at Luna Park (if there are any tickets left). Do you remember the Tivoli? Welcome back!

5 Stars

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