Dance group rises to the occasion

Shakespeare ready.

By Tania Phillips

For those who danced as a child, there was something special about practising for weeks, perfecting a routine and then proudly getting up on stage in front of friends and family.

It was a great feeling and one that not a lot of people get to experience into adulthood. However, the adult dancers at the Warwick-based Rise -Freestyle Warriors know just what it feels like and a little later this month they will be experiencing it again but this time under the stars and as part of Stanthorpe Little Theatre’s Shakespeare in Shorts.

The group, under the watchful eye of dance principal Kylie Wright, have learned medieval style dancing to add an extra dimension to this year’s Shakespeare event and add yet another style to their repertoire.

“It’s been really interesting,” Kylie laughed.

“The Shakespeare opportunity has been lots of fun, and quite interesting for us. It’s been good

“We were very fortunate, we are working with Annie on a separate project at the moment and we got talking and she found out that I’ve been dabbling in medieval dancing.”

Rise is a labor of love for Kylie.

“Rise has been operating in Warwick for about eight or nine years now,” she said.

“We just a small dance studio. We don’t do competitions and we just dance for the enjoyment of it. I have a class that’s suited for kids and I’ve got a class for adults and we explore many, many, many different dance styles.”

Rise came about when a friend of Kylies approached her about starting a dance troupe.

“She convinced me to go along with her, so we started Rise in the Baptist Church Hall in Warwick and then when she moved to Hervey Bay I took it over by myself,” Kylie said.

The group currently now has between 20 and 25 dancers, around ten kids and teens and 10 adults give or take a couple. The group dance to have fun, to enjoy a laugh week to week and to enjoy performing. Though for many of them Kylie’s plan came out of left field.

“They laughed at first when I told them,” she giggled.

“Then they went – what? But they are use to all my idiosyncrasies and all the weird things that I like to experiment with so they really weren’t that surprised.

“We learn about nine dances a year and we also practice old ones as well. This particular number that we’ve been doing for the Shakespeare, we’ve been working on that for a couple of months now.

“It’s not one of our more complex ones but it certainly looks really pretty when you sit back and watch it because traditionally your more medieval style was repetitive so when I choreographed it I attempted to make parts of it quite representative of the time and then for fun I threw in some hip-hop right in the middle of it. It’s a fusion of hip-hop and medieval time dancing,” she sniggered.

Because of busy life schedules the dancers involved in the performances will vary from show to show.

“Over the course of the three to four performances about eight of my dancers are able to come but not all at the same time unfortunately. We will always about three to four of us but rotating. However, everybody has stepped-up and pitched in to try and make this the best we can. It’s going really well, it’s looking really good and we’ve got our costumes ready.”

Rise will pop up mainly in the second half during the monologue section of the show.

“From what I understand we are pretty soon after the interval and then we are on again a bit later after some of the monologues.

“I haven’t actually been privileged enough to get to Shakespeare Under the Stars before but I’m a massive history buff, we go to the Medieval Festival every year, my family and I. We enjoy going and seeing the re-enactors.

“So it was really lovely to get the opportunity to go down and not just see it, but experience it.

“We’re really excited. November is a big performance month for us so we’ve just been having a really quiet rest and then it’s full tilt into November.

“We had a show in Warwick on November 4 which was called Time Vorp and we collaborated with the local burlesque studios from Warwick and Toowoomba under the banner of the Rose City Soiree to basically put on a variety concert for grown-up performers. There aren’t that many opportunities for adults to learn and perform unless you are at the top of your field. There aren’t a lot of chances for adults just to have a good time on a stage these days.

“Dance is for movement, it’s for enjoyment and it’s one of the most fun things you can do. I love dance so much, I’m so passionate about dance in all its forms.”

Kylie herself has been dancing for more than 30 years, starting off as a young child, though her path to dance teaching didn’t take the stereo-typical ballet or jazz route.

“I started off with Highland Dancing as a kid and then when I hit my teen years I decided to branch out into a few different things like ballroom, salsa and belly dancing. Eventually when I hit my 30s I started ballet, jazz and tap and all of those sorts of things. I’ve just continued to add to my dancing knowledge.

“And now it’s medieval dancing. I’ve been watching videos and doing research online and all that kind of stuff to find the types of styles and steps and things that they would have done at the time.

“It was really interesting to do the research. I’m very fortunate that a lot of re-enactors are very clever and they’ve done a lot of hard work. They’ve put the research out there on the internet so I didn’t have to go crawling through old texts or anything to try and piece it together.

“A lot of the re-enactors are so thorough in what they do I was able to go in and tap into what I needed.”

Find more information about Rise on their facebook page.