Breaking a World Record at the 2017 Victorian Dance Festival
VDF 2017 Highlights:
Melbourne Town Hall, March 17th, 18th & 19th.
For those of you who missed it, this past Friday marked the commencement of the 5th annual Victorian Dance Festival, and another incredible opportunity for Australian and international dancers, teachers and choreographers to come and celebrate being part of a worldwide community unlike any other. The event showcases styles and skills across many genres of dance and offers participants of all ages and levels the opportunity to unite and embrace the most fundamental reason why we dance; not to compete, not for rank, recognition or the enticement of the spotlight, but for the love of movement, self expression and the ability to create and connect. Organised with exemplary vision by founder Kate Meade (and with the support of Energetiks and Dance Informa as major sponsors), the event offers the unique experience of providing a space for dancers to mingle, learn, watch and dance, free from the rivalry and competitive atmosphere often present at dance eisteddfods and competitions.
With an ethos of ‘Community. Not Competition’, VDF offers more valuable, experiential rewards than mere trophies, and this year's results speak volumes for the merits of such a remarkable event; within a plethora of incredible moments scattered throughout the three days, dancers cried tears of happiness, laughed, sung, screamed, cheered, hugged, talked, and stood silent and transfixed by their fellow dancers (Sarah Frangenberg's awe-inspiring impromptu solo onstage comes vividly to mind here). And of course this year also saw great cause for celebration when 251 ballet dancers stepped on pointe and together broke the world record for the most number of dancers on pointe simultaneously for one minute. Perhaps most telling of all though was the moment after officials had completed a headcount - and came up several dancers short of the necessary number - a flood of dancers came rushing down from upstairs, and with the help of some Energetiks pointe shoes (gladly provided by us), joined their fellow dancers in front of the stage.
Then there was the incredible moment when after three years of retirement Lucinda Dunn (Australia's longest serving Principal dancer with the Australian Ballet) sat down to tie her pointe shoes for the very first time since stepping off the stage in 2014, and join the 250 other dancers en pointe for the World Record attempt. And what a triumphant comeback it was! Dunn rose en pointe with all the suppleness and elegance of a dancer who had never taken off her shoes to begin with, and guided a mixture of experienced and newly-practiced pointe shoe wearers through the minute-long bourrée session (complete with some impromptu port de bras and a flawless smile). She was joined onstage by Energetiks own Marketing Manager Elysia Mangier, Office Manager David Williams (coincidentally breaking a second *unofficial* world record by being the first male dancer to take part - yesss!), VDF's guest of honour and Star of Step Up Revolution and So You Think You Can Dance Kathryn McCormick, and fellow international guests Sarah Frangenberg and Tate McRae, as well as Kate Meade and Paul Malek, Philippa Ziengenhardt of StageMinded, official VDF photographer Belinda Strodder and various TV crew watching on with baited breath.
"To see such a diverse and yet united group of people all here because of what dance means to them was truly heart warming, VDF is an incredible testament to the spirit of camaraderie and the friendships that are fostered within our dance community."
~ David Williams, Energetiks Office Manager
Ella McMillan, the official Ambassador for VDF 2017 (and Energetiks Model Search 2016 Winner) was also there enjoying classes (and looking gorgeous in her Oriental Bloom dancewear). She particularly loved Kim Adam's class and fluid choreography to Sara Bareilles' 'Gravity'. Kathryn McCormick's workshops were another clear favourite amongst dancers, which is why Meade (with the support of Energetiks) was committed to bringing Kathryn back for her second consecutive year as a VDF guest teacher. Kathryn brings more than just teaching skills to the table, she has an effortless knack for communication which makes her an incredible public speaker capable of turning a room full of strangers into an intimate and comfortable setting, creating strong bonds amongst her students.
“I’m really grateful to get to travel and teach, and get to build more relationships as I’m seeing a lot of the same people [this year]. So that’s been really fun to come back to. And [VDF] has more of that home feeling now - also to have Tate and Sarah with me, some of my best friends, that’s been really fun!”
~ Kathryn McCormick
When VDF began five years ago, a modest two hundred dancers attended. Yet today it has grown into a three day long event, attracting a crowd of over four thousand excited dancers and vastly expanding the horizons of what's possible for the festival looking to the future. This year saw international schools, guest speakers, and teachers attend, a world record broken, and a Gala performance that coalesced schools and performers of such diverse talent and style (including our very own Salsa Champ, Elysia), and who were so genuinely thrilled to be performing in front of friends, peers and fellow dancers, that the energy radiating from the audience was nothing short of euphoric. With so much promise, and such wonderful success already for VDF, it's exciting to imagine the future possibilities for a festival that so greatly enriches the Australian dance community.