Strict rules, extreme conditions and ferocious competition. Dance Derby is a visceral and moving look at the exhausting endurance contests which became a popular way to earn money in the midst of the Depression. Competitions could go on for months with those taking part only sleeping every two hours and eating while they danced. Some competitors even died in their attempt to win.
In Dance Derby we meet Hal Johnson (Harry Ward), a producer and MC determined to put on a show for his paying audience which means getting the best out of his contestants – at any cost. Soprano Nadine Livingston is singer Anna Fontaine, paid to keep the dancers moving through their exhaustion and her own.
Five couples compete to be the last pair standing and claim prize money that can buy them out of homelessness and hunger: Mary and Eugene, battling for a better start in life for their unborn child; brother and sister Bill and Rose who’ve travelled far and wide for food and shelter; Hal’s favourites Allan and Molly; Eleanor and Joe who’re thrown together by fate, and Muriel-Jane and Arlen, a husband and wife with nothing left to lose but each other.
Music Director Kennedy Aitchison and a six-piece jazz ensemble provide the music with songs from the era including ‘Happy Feet’, ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?’ ‘We’re In The Money’ ‘Flat Foot Floogie (with the Floy Floy)’ and Irving Berlin’s ‘Let Yourself Go’. Company Chordelia Artistic Director Kally Lloyd-Jones directs.
Dance Derby was part of our 2013 Fringe season and then toured to Findhorn, Inverness, Dunfermline and Giffnock.