Dancers Among Us: A Performance for the Performers

Jo Flashman reviews the Blue Angels Spring Gala, an opportunity to see some of St Andrews' best dancing talent on show


This past Thursday night, the Blue Angels dance team members and their friends and family crowded into the Byre theatre plaza where dancers sold raffle tickets and friends chat-ted – the question, ‘so do you know anyone in the show?’ coming up more than once.

Migrating into the theatre itself, the audience filled about two thirds of the seats and everyone was in high spirits. The show itself had a bit of a slow start, but ramped up during the first hip hop dance called ‘Havana’ – the music mashed the song ‘Havana’ by Camila Cabello with other popular dance songs really well and you could tell the dancers were thoroughly en-joying themselves. Specifically, the facial expressions that the dancers made (especially dancers, Vivienne Nguyen and Stuart McQuarrie) were a lot of fun to watch.

Overall, the variety of dances throughout the night was well spaced going between jazz, ballet, hip hop, tap, and modern/contemporary so you never got bored of one form of movement. I was also impressed by the sheer amount of dancing they were able to present. To create and memorise each dance (every dancer was in at least four different dances) for a two-hour performance is a feat in itself worth commending. In addition to that, each dance seemed clearly well thought out, unique, and generally used the stage very well. Most of the dances had some aspect to them that I enjoyed whether that was the dance moves, choreography, storytelling, costumes, or general performance. However, I would say every dance also had room for improvement, but for a student led performance I imagine that is to be expected. A few dances that I think specifically deserve honourable mentions were the advanced improv dance, ‘The Way’, and the hip hop dance, ‘Minions.’ ‘The Way’ had a lot of re-ally cool movements with how the dancers interacted with each other moving in sync at some times and at others having almost two different dances going on at the same time. It was emotional and dramatic, which really worked for the piece. ‘Minions’ on the other hand, was incredibly fun with all the hip-hoppers dressed as minions from Despicable Me and re-ally taking on that character. The end of it also had a funny twist with Stuart McQuarrie coming out in a beautiful fairy costume and busting out some hip hop moves.

On the slightly more negative side, the show was clearly meant for people who already knew the performers and less so for a neutral audience. This is not necessarily a bad thing, considering it is a gala and a nice thing to have for the performers, but it is important to recognise as it changes the vibes and expectations for the performance. With this in mind, the performance was entertaining and overall enjoy-able. However, if I were to hold the show to a professional standard, I would have several complaints. The biggest would be the noise and movement in the wings. While the wings are often not thought of to be on stage, the only barrier between on-stage and the wings is a small bit of curtain, so the audience can hear every loud foot-fall and quiet whisper. Additionally, if you can see the audience, the audience can see you, so making a lot of movement or going over the moves for the next dance can easily distract from the performance currently on stage. This, along with having slightly tighter changes between dances are admittedly small critiques, but they make all the difference with distinguishing between a professional and amateur performance. As the show did seem primarily for the performers though, it was a really good presentation of the dancer’s skills and created a nice space to honour the graduating dancers.


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