Big Names Stepping Out

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STAGE STARS: Amelia Gornall (8), front left, Hazel Rae (7), Alice Macann (16), back left, and Kimiora Grey (18), will be dancing in the Wakatu Dance Theatre production “Icons of our Time”.

Source: The Nelson Mail

Peta Spooner dances when she talks. She even danced through an interview with Nelson Mail reporter Tom Hunt ahead of her dance academy’s upcoming production.There is no questioning the passion and motivation Wakatu Dance Theatre director Peta Spooner has for her job. When Nelson lacked a suitable venue for her dancers she shipped them up to Levin, and she is taking a flock of 50 of them to Jamaica next June.But before that, she is directing about 130 of them, aged from four to middle age, through an ambitious show that highlights some well-known figures ranging from Sir Edmund Hillary to Princess Di, Walt Disney and Michael Jackson. Icons of our Time is this year’s big outing for the academy and for it she has taken a range of historical figures, clumped them in groups and attached relevant songs.

“What we are trying to do is associate our icons with songs people will recognise,” Spooner says. For example, Sir Ed, Dame Whina Cooper and Peter Blake have been put with the song Dare to Dream. Elton John, Princess Di and Marilyn Monroe have, unsurprisingly, been matched with Candle in the Wind. Spooner says she was surprised that of all the famous figures that appeared on the poster for the show, the one that none of the dancers recognised was 20th-century prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn.

Spooner says it is possibly a signal of the dearth of live ballet in Nelson and signals how few big-name dancers come through town. Conversely, the one piece of music all the dancers knew was the theme song for children’s musical group the Wiggles. The dancing itself does not attempt to tell the stories of the characters but is rather an interpretation of the song chosen to represent them, she says.

While the show will be performed only three times in Nelson, it will travel to Levin, where it will be performed 11 times, including to 2500 schoolchildren. She is taking the show to the North Island because the Horowhenua town has a much better venue and it is important to give the dancers a chance at a longer season, she says. But the Levin expedition is small fry compared with next year’s trip to Jamaica to perform a New Zealand-themed show.They need to raise around $250,000 for the Caribbean adventure, so watch out for dancers sizzling sausages or holding fundraising wine tastings.

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