MENwhoDANCE – A Wild Dance Experience To Never Forget At Adelaide Fringe

Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

MENwhoDANCE will showcase an eruption of dance styles and action, as the cast of six dancers do their thing for Adelaide Fringe audiences, in 'Alpha’.

The cast of men will make their way through construction sites, Bollywood, and even under the sea, in a performance of more than 20 routines sure to get audiences right on the edges of their seats. Charlie, Willian, Dhuruva, Calin, Bailey and Rhys tap, sing, leap, flip. . . And even meet an alien.

It's a high-energy production striking a perfect balance between daredevil action, romance, and comedy.

The award-winning show has been conceived and directed by Malcolm Harslett of Mighty Good Entertainment, who gives us some insight into this toe-tapping, engaging production ahead of its Adelaide Fringe season.

What is MENwhoDANCE?
MENwhoDANCE is more than a dance show, it’s an experience. To our knowledge there isn’t a show like this anywhere else on the horizon.

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What kinds of dance styles can audiences expect?
The high-energy show features many different dance styles. Including the latest street moves, a classical story piece, and athletic sport prowess. Follow the men as they head through construction sites, Bollywood, and under the sea. They tap, sing, leap, flip, are part of a boxing match, a confusing clown, an A.I robot and the audience even meets an alien. The choreography of the show has all been created by the men who have all shared the knowledge of their own particular styles to each other. There are 23 completely different routines, sets, costumes and styles of music in the show, which is two hours long and includes an intermission.

You’re responsible for the concept/direction of this show. Tell us a bit about your role.
I’ve always looked to create something original an audience would like to see and when directing one of the men (Charlie, who turned out to be a trained ballet dancer) in another show, I had the idea of an original concept featuring only men dancing; as men are often overshadowed in dance numbers supporting and lifting women. Some years before, I’d conceived and produced a teen hip hop show called 'Hip Hop Harry And The Who Who', which featured a history of dance through to modern times. It was aimed at a school holiday market, and had several repeat seasons. We then produced the original show 'Teen Dream', which featured five teenage male singer/actor/dancers, in a story of young men realising their dream on a TV reality show. The audience’s reaction enthusiastically proved that they loved seeing men performing and dancing.

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It’s a multi award-winning show. What does this kind of validation/recognition mean for the company?
The two Fringe Awards we have won have been affirming and the audience reaction with constant exit quotes “we thought it would be good. . . But we didn’t realise it would be THIS GOOD”, have been wonderful. The recognition of the brand name MENwhoDANCE with this first show being called 'Alpha' as in 'first' and 'Alpha Male' has spread across the community. We have also received many five-star reviews all saying this is a “must-see show”, so it's been a great reaction.

Tell us a bit about the show’s performers.
When directing a play for the Star Theatre’s Back2Back Short Show Festival, we cast Charlie Herkes in an acting role. During the rehearsal period we discovered Charlie was also an accomplished classical ballet dancer, trained at VCAS and Queensland Ballet Company. After considerable consultation with the Adelaide dance fraternity we then discovered Kurt Benton, who began his life as a tumbler and acrobat, and then progressed to ballet, tap, and all other forms of dance. He was excited to be involved particularly because he was given the opportunity to develop his own routines. Kurt then suggested Ricky-Jai Revella, a dancer with a hip hop and tertiary contemporary dance background, and the show began development. Upon a chance phone call, Willian Rodrigues came to an audition meeting and was excited by the idea. I had previously worked with Willian when he played a reindeer at Santa’s Wonderland. Willian also introduced us to an accomplished hip hop dancer D.J.Filipe Rodrigues, who was also from Brazil and visiting Adelaide. The first season of the show opened with only five men to excellent reviews in Star Theatres Back2Back Short Show Festival, as the headline show, on 20 October, 2021. The show also developed a surprising comedic flair in the first season, that complemented the fact that the men also sang in multiple pieces. It had taken shape as a variety dance show featuring men with some singing and comedy. While some of the original cast have moved on to other shows over the past three years, the show now features Charlie, Willian, Dhuruva, Calin, Bailey and Rhys. Even our fabulous dresser Julie gets a moment on stage in the boxing match routine. The men have all formed a band of brothers which makes the rehearsals and the shows very enthusiastic, with great humour and shenanigans, and when performing they just explode with energy and technique.

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How are these performers selected for this show?
The new men (auditioning) have come in to meet the existing cast, which began with Charlie, then Kurt and Ricky joined them in rehearsals. We never had cattle call auditions as we only saw one guy at a time who worked with the original members, after one of the guys had moved on from the show. It was also about their sense of humour as well as their athletic and dance ability.

Who is MENwhoDANCE 'Alpha' for?
The show is for adults, however there is nothing distasteful in it, and the men look great in their costumes. It’s not a strip show, but they don’t wear a lot as they’re dancers.

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What are you most looking forward to about presenting the show at Adelaide Fringe this year?
Full houses and delighted audiences firstly, on our pre-Fringe country tour to Pt Lincoln, Whyalla, Pt Pirie, Mt Gambier and Renmark and then a two-week season at Star Theatres during the Adelaide Fringe and secondly, a national tour to follow.

MENwhoDANCE 'Alpha' plays Main Theatre at Middleback Arts Centre 9 February, Keith Michell Theatre at Northern Festival Centre 10 February, Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre 14 February, Chaffey Theatre 16 February, and Star Theatre One at Star Theatres 20 February-3 March (Adelaide Fringe).

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