Hollywood hues
Joie de vivre

Darren Ashton’s Razzle Dazzle: a Journey into Dance infuses action
with sparks of comedy, writes Ervell E. Menezes

THE actual title is Razzle-dazzle: a Journey into Dance and with most of the girls between eight and twelve, what an explosion of youth and zest it is, all geared to make the viewer "trip on the light fantastic toe" and into raptures of delight in this glorious Australian musical comedy.

The choreography is precise and easy on the eye
The choreography is precise and easy on the eye

Mr Jonathon (Ben Miller) runs an innovative dance school where his little girls perform various routines from evil scientists, greedy corporations to oppressed women. These everyday subjects are grist for Jonathan’s mill and he does it with panache, satire running as an undercurrent right through and in the process making some snide but relevant statements.

He does not normally care much for competitions but this year he is bent on giving a good fight to his rival Elizabeth (Jane Hall), for whom everything is about winning and hence "less-eating, more-stretching" is one of her mottos much to the chagrin of her little charges.

Tenille (Shayne Notelovitz) is Jonathan’s lead dancer driven by her success-obsessed mother Justine (Kerry Armstrong) but Grace (Clancy Ryan) is another with great promise and her mother Paulette is less driven to success. So naturally there is a rivalry of sorts but the main attraction is the contest between Jonathan and Elizabeth.

The Sanosafe Troupe Spectacular is the country’s most prestigious dance competition and the scene of this battle royale. The best thing director Darren Ashton does is infuse the action with sparks of comedy, some touches light as soufflé and the young artistes do well to exude this joie de vivre so much so that even when it touches explosive situations there is always an element of bonhomie. The screenplay by Robin Ince and Carolyn Wilson scours the various facets of human nature with microscopic detail and the Jasketeers (Jonathan’s troupe) hog the limelight. The choreography is precise, at times ballet-smooth, often rambunctious, but always easy on the eye.

It is a whole team effort and director Ashton does not single anyone for very special honours. Still, one cannot help but be impressed by Shayne Notelovitz and Clancy Ryan with the ringleaders Ben Miller and Jane Hall doing full justice to their demanding roles. But it is the cohesion of the whole troupe and their virtual foray into the music world that makes Razzle-Dazzle : A Journey into Dance such a delightful, memorable experience.