Mauritius Dance Fever 2009
The quote for this post’s title was said by a judge for a dance competition during his introduction. It stuck with me for the remainder of the evening.
Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the final live broadcast competition of the Mauritius Dance Fever 2009 Final as a VIP guest. The local NBC television station was at the Intercontinental resort’s ballroom to record the contest in all its glory. The night of dance-off festivities did not disappoint.
Earlier in the day, we were given our invitations. Our VIP status was due to the fact that we know one of the people that acted as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. The invitation stated that since the event was going to be broadcast live, all people should arrive no later than 7:15 p.m. because the show was beginning promptly at 7:30 p.m.
We’ve become accustomed to the ways of scheduling here and arrived at 7:45 p.m. as did half the other audience members.
The show began at 9:00 p.m.
The Dance Fever competition actually started fourteen weeks ago and last night was the grand finale – the big win. The first place prize was a paid trip to Australia to audition to attend a dance school there with the runner-up given a trip to Rodriques.
Being VIP guests gave us access to a lounge area outside with some food nibbles and cheap wine.
The wine was quickly consumed by my three Frenchmen chaperones for the evening with the hope of achieving what I can only think of as some sort of numbing blindness against all the rhinestones, sequins and metallic fabric.
I wish the invite had mentioned something about wearing something sparkly because everyone involved in the production and many members of the audience were head to toe razzle-dazzle. Before last night, I hadn’t realized that adding a strip or two or many loose, chunky dangles of rhinestone crystals to the lapels or pants of a man’s suit could be so striking especially under harsh lighting.
The costume changes were frequent and involved not only the changing of what a competitor or performer was wearing, but many switches of props, as well, because these days what’s real dancing without the use of masks, lit candles, giant sticks, dog food dishes, hula-hoops or human-sized stuffed tigers?
Things started out with a series of group dances performed by some of the island’s resort Sega-show dancers, ‘The Dancing Soldiers’, as well as, other local dance professionals. Two of the judges even got in on the grooving by lip-syncing and dancing to a few remixed tunes. It was like everyone’s Britney moment was being realized and broadcast live across the island.
Competitive dancing is serious business and last night’s final brought the danger zone extremely close for a few people. The first group dance proved to be a jazz-hand hazard as one woman was smacked in the face by her dancing neighbor. Later, another woman’s head hit the floor during a spiral lift.
Another competitor, who I began to refer to as ‘the serious one’ after her first performance because she announced beforehand, “welcome to my world of fear”, danced very well to rather scary sounding opera/slasher movie music while she lost the top portion of her dress. And I’m quite certain this was not the choreographed example of fear that she was trying to convey.
Later, this same competitor had to perform one of the judge-assigned dances in the third round. Her assigned dance was the disco. It was the saddest disco I’ve ever seen. Her lime-green sequin dress and toe-tapping music of ABBA’s ‘Voulez Vous’ could not erase her world of fear from my memory. Even if she were to step through the doors of Studio 54, I don’t think her personal nightmare would have ended.
One of the more disturbing, yet interesting, numbers of the night came when the group of all white dancers came on stage to perform. They followed other groups of dancers who had performed dances such as the traditional island Sega (this was the best performance of the night in my opinion) and Bollywood-style Indian dancing.
The beats of a techno-military remix of guns being loaded and assembled, as well as, explosions going off pumped through the speakers as the dancers took the stage half-naked. It was shocking to suddenly see the stage filled with naked white people grinding to some bizarre pro-violence dance track. And the method of dancing was 100% pure stripper-pole minus the poles.
I yelled out the single wolf-howl as two male beefcakes shook and ground what clearly took many, many hours in the gym and a daily dose of GNC powdered something or another to achieve. I couldn’t help it. It just seemed appropriate and if I would have had a few free-floating rupees quick at hand, I would have rushed to the stage to stuff them somewhere where the Bollywood sun wasn’t shining.
After an hour of non-stop action which had many of the dancers ending their 60 second performances by violently hitting the stage in full-body slams, half the audience had left the ballroom to smoke and drink. One of the judges even missed seeing one of the competitors’ second round performances because he didn’t make it back from break in time.
It was as if everyone had used up all the practiced and built-up energy in the beginning and now that things were winding-down, it was time to relax into a more casual form of performance from the local talent.
A singer missed his cue and while the music played and his voice sang, his background dancers came out and danced. When he finally made it to the stage, he entered from stage right with his back to the audience with both hands occupied by what seemed to be the struggling efforts of zipping up his fly.
But, the competitors remained focused and three hours after their dreams sparkled under the spotlights, a winner was announced.
I loved every second of it.