This 80s precursor to Dancing with the Stars took the competitive community spirit of Top Town to the dance floor, with dancers twirling and dipping in sequinned spandex for the ‘Top Dance City’ trophy. Hosted by radio personality Lindsay Yeo, this 1982 final follows the foxtrot and samba at Wellington’s Majestic Cabaret. Beside regional bragging rights, winners take home a Pye Vidmatic 10 inch TV. The Northern Ballet Company (the one from Auckland, not the company from Leeds) interrupt proceedings for a Venusian space travel interlude that won't soon be forgotten.
This 80s precursor to Dancing with the Stars put the competitive community spirit of Top Town onto the dancefloor, as ballroom dancers representing different regions twirled and dipped for supremacy. Created by Ron Pledger (a longtime TVNZ go-to person for major event TV — Top Town, This is Your Life, Anzac Day broadcasts), the concept was inspired by Pledger’s wife, a champion Latin American dancer who had connections in the ballroom dancing world. Top Dance ran for three seasons.
Celebrating the “transformative power of dance”, Dancing in the Dark centres on Peter Vosper, an inventor who has designed his own custom light suit as an outlet for his creativity. It also makes the perfect addition to No Lights No Lycra, an event where participants spend an hour dancing to upbeat music in the dark. While most dancers can’t be seen (as is the appeal of the event — dance like no one’s watching), Peter’s glowing suit takes centre stage and makes for quite the spectacle. The film is part of the Loading Docs series of shorts, made for exhibition online.
In 1989 dancer Douglas Wright returned home from an dance OE to choreograph and form his own company. This TV profile, occasioned by the premiere of his work Gloria, looks back on a late blossoming career that began at 21 when he took up ballet to overcome a heroin addiction. After becoming a star with Limbs, he moved on to prestigious troupes in London and New York. Now, as opening night looms, Wright is acutely aware of the danger of pushing his dancers too hard physically as he fights to get the best out of them on an ambitious and highly demanding piece.
Writer-director Barry Prescott’s third short film might have been entitled Strictly Legless. Alge (Joe Taylor) is a double amputee with a photo of Fred Astaire above his bed, whose dreams of dancing appear unlikely until he gets some inventive help from his sister (Emma Kinane) and dance teacher (John Bach, in a nosy prosthetic). Featuring cameos from veteran actors Donna Akersten and Alice Fraser, the black comedy treads on some sensitive toes for humorous effect, while remaining warm-hearted. It won awards at festivals for the differently-abled worldwide.
One of the most controversial political ads to emerge from New Zealand, this 1975 spot only played twice on local TV, but helped bring National a landslide win. National leader Rob Muldoon’s chief target was the Labour Government’s superannuation scheme, which the ad notoriously associated with communism, via a troupe of dancing Cossacks. Created by ad agency Colenso, the concept was animated by Hanna-Barbera in Australia. After being elected, Muldoon brought in a replacement superannuation scheme.
Tu (real-life hip hop champ Tia Maipi) has six weeks to show the talent that will win him a spot in an international dance group. As the high octane trailer for Born to Dance makes clear, that doesn’t leave much time to muck around. The first movie directed by actor Tammy Davis (Outrageous Fortune) features music by P-Money, and choreography by Manurewa’s own world champ hip hop sensation Parris Goebel (who helped choreograph J. Lo’s 2012 tour). The cast includes Stan Walker and American Kherington Payne (Fame). Playwright Hone Kouka is one of the writing team.
This concert from May 1983 finds Dance Exponents — one of five bands filmed for a Radio with Pictures live series — with their star on the rise, but yet to release their debut album. An irrepressible Jordan Luck and band mates Dave Gent, Brian Jones and Mike Harralambi perform six songs in front of an enthusiastic full house, at Auckland's premier venue Mainstreet Cabaret. Highlights include a sparse, urgent 'Victoria' and a barnstorming 'Airway Spies'. Opening song 'Perfect Romance' was only ever released in this version on a companion live album.
The programme in the Open Door series follows a unique partnership between the Pegasus Unit — a special needs unit at Pakuranga college — and Auckland University Dance students, as they work together to produce a dance performance in just four weeks. The Pegasus Unit students blossom, and both groups of students learn from each other as the big day approaches.
This beloved song was written in Wanaka on the first (1971) Blerta tour as part of The Blerta Kids' Show. (The children’s slot was made to allay conservative fears as the busload of merry pranksters rolled into town.) The concept was inspired by a Margaret Mahy story — reshaped by Geoff Murphy — and the music was composed by Corben Simpson. Bill Stalker provided the narration. It became a hit single and synonymous with Kiwi counter culture. There was never a video made, nor extant concert footage: this clip is excerpted from Murphy’s Blerta Revisited doco.