KIRAN KISHORE fills us in on what it really takes to put on a show like Around The World Of Dance
I felt lightheaded with pride when three audience members declared that ‘Around the World of Dance’ was the best thing they’d seen in St. Andrews in four years. Then again, maybe the light-headedness was due to sleep deprivation or post-traumatic stress disorder. But reader, if you had to run a society, organise costumes, choreograph ten different dances, teach them five nights a week, and negotiate logistics, you would be reaching for the Paracetemol too. So here’s a review with some insider perspective, showing what goes on behind the scenes of a successful production.
To me, dance is an intrinsic part of culture, and it seemed a shame that our incredibly talented, international student body had nowhere to showcase their skills. As a dance teacher, I also wanted to give my students the opportunity to perform. And so, three years ago, ‘Around the World of Dance’ was born and has since grown to include styles from Guadeloupe to India.
The word “Dictator” is printed boldly on my Ethnic and Interpretive Dance Society hoodie – an apt but necessary title, if I say so myself. My greatest challenge in this role was to set up initial contact with around fifteen acts and to stay in touch with them over the course of the year. This involved contacting people over and over again, using email, Facebook, and even calling and texting as the big day came closer. My vice president once joked about setting up a separate account just for the emails she received from me – later, I think she slightly regretted not doing it.
Behind every successful director (read: dictator) is a dedicated and proactive team, and my committee was indispensable. Together, we did everything we could to make ATWOD 2012 bigger, better and most of all, more fun. We enlisted even more dance societies and individual performers, making full use of St Andrews’ diverse population. This took care of the bigger and better part, but how could we make it more fun? Zumba instructor Anna Des Clayes suggested we bring in actors to play world travellers who would accompany the audience around the world of dance. This idea blossomed into writing a humorous, over-the-top script featuring stereotypes and actor-dancer interactions, including fake Indian accents and James Bond allusions.
On the day of the show, three girls spent the entire day running up and down stairs, making sure that everybody knew where to be and when to be ready. Our dress rehearsal involved shouting from the stage up to the lighting box, as we figured out the ideal lighting for every number. Our voices cracked after two hours and little stars danced around my head as the lights flashed on and off.
Next to the hours spent in physical preparation for the production, it was constantly in the back of my mind. There were numerous occasions when I was working hard in the library, but had a sudden thought about things that needed to be done for the show. Have the programmes been printed? Do I know everybody’s technical requirements? Emails and texts were frantically sent to make sure that everything was organised, as I lost my academic train of thought.
After the show was over, something strange hit me: post-production blues. With the final bow, it was suddenly all over and I no longer spent my days running from one rehearsal to the next, organising costumes, answering phone calls and uploading song files. But then I realised that this foreign concept of free time could be used productively, and so I chose to remedy my PTSD and sleep deprivation by electing next year’s EidSoc committee, handing over the reins to a new team whom I know will do a fantastic job. And then I took a hot water bottle, a cup of tea, and settled down with a 1922 edition of Persuasion.