What’s Next? Ideas on SWAY: A Dance Trilogy version 3.0
NB: I wrote this last week, but didn’t publish until now. Per a couple of conversations with different parties it certainly appears the next iteration of SWAY: A Dance Trilogy is on, and will be in early June. In Manhattan, per a conversation a supporter had with Tony Dovolani in Michigan today.
SWAY had such a wonderful response, I believe the production will continue at such times when schedules of the headliners and celebrity guests permit. In the latest production of SWAY in December 2014, Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmkerovsky were limited to one day of performances, requiring enormous effort and scheduling adjustments as written about earlier. [LINK] Due to the aforementioned, the pair reprised of two of their most popular and visually stunning performances: a Rumba to ’Read All About It’ and Argentine Tango to ‘Montserrat.’ Based on the overwhelmingly positive audience response and their clear joy at dancing together I believe MnM, as they are called by supporters, will perform again and their performances will include the next production of SWAY. Thus follows is this writers wish list. Well, some of it. If I had my way, they’d be dancing together much more!
Looking forward to SWAY v. 3.0, with more time to plan and rehearse I anticipate and hope Meryl and Maks will add in new performances, in collaboration with production choreographers David Thomas Moore and Joao Tiago Fernandes to ensure what Maks creates works smoothly into the unique story line. A story line which distinguishes SWAY: A Dance Trilogy from other dance intense productions.
MnM’s Argentine Tango, though, is so powerful and thematically appropriate, I’d like to see it woven into the narrative of the third scene. The third scene, set in a 1950’s era Miami club, could be inserted as the last piece, to show the evening at the winding to a close, perhaps? The club scene members start to fade away as MnM take the floor, lights dim… and the focus is on them, without being totally stripped down. I’d like to see some minor changes to the lighting of that number and, while I’m at it, their AT lengthened. Regardless of the length, it will never seem long enough. They’re that good. Envision the ending to that scene: a moment of stillness, lights fade and the theme of Passion underscored. After their close, the full cast starts to emerge on the stage for the final SWAY number.
If, as so many hope, Meryl is going to do the full run of SWAY 3.0, however long a run it is, I also want to see Peta do her full compliment of dances. For the day of Meryl’s performances, Peta’s Rumba with Maks was cut. She’s such a stunning dancer and nails those Latin dances. In particular, while she’s a joy to watch every time she dances, I loved the ‘El Watusi/Ran Kan Kan’ number. When the crowd parts and she emerges from the back… WOW! Then she and Maks are off with a dance of explosive energy and joy of being in the moment. What Peta brings to these numbers with Maks, is a key component to the energy and theme of the third scene.
Dance elements of the Jive showed up in all scenes, although more noticeable to me, in SWAY 1.0. Meryl can NAIL a Jive as one of the Latin competitive dances a MnM Jive would be thematically appropriate and undoubtedly a fantastic number for them. The Elvis piece to ‘Hounddog’ they performed in Week 9 of their Dancing With the Stars season, while musically is not what one thinks of as a 50’s Miami Club scene, is representative of the larger cultural influences of that era. Let’s face it, Maks was so absolutely perfect as Elvis, I am sure I am not alone in wanting to see it live! Meryl, though pulled attention as well, not an easy accomplishment while Maks is dancing impeccably as the ‘King.’ Barring reprising their Elvis Jive, employing another piece of music that fits the scene to which they could incorporate Jive elements would be a fantastic addition to the show.
As many know, the overarching concept of SWAY, portrays the evolution of American social dance through the influences of our melting pot culture and relaxing of social mores. Passion is another unifying theme between all scenes: individuals in society creating and moving and loving. These themes are fascinating to me and what sets SWAY apart from other dance orientated productions. So I’d also like to see that narrative fleshed out more, without cutting into the dancing. Which means lengthening SWAY. Below are listed what I see as the main cultural influences:
- The NY club scene from the 30’s/40’s has influences from the then segregated black community in both the music and dances on a primarily European culture.
- The Urban second scene set in Brooklyn, is reflective of waves of Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Black Caribbean migrants to the area in the late 20th century and a fusion of those various origins is evident in much of the creative product of the era.
- The third scene set in a 50’s Miami club coincides with a massive wave of Cuban migrants, in particular, fleeing upheaval in their home country along with shorter hemlines and relaxing of acceptable social behavior.
I’d love to see an expanded narrative functioning a transition into the scenes, going beyond describing the emotion of passion, to illustrate HOW that passion, as represented through differentiated dance styles, evolved. Besides making history and cultural anthropology lovers hearts swell with joy, it would add an additional level of richness to the production. Passion as an overarching unifying theme, currently is presented as an interpersonal dynamic: romance and what makes the heart beat faster and the joy of movement as a dance pair. However, isn’t there also passion in the migratory process, whether running from something or to something or both? Those who come with little or nothing, in particular, to a new land and through dint of their own industry, rise, surely have passion? How then, if I were to get my wish, would this transpire?
As an example of the transition concept, the number done by DWM instructors to a Bossa Nova musical selection in the third scene, would be a wonderful transition from Scene 2, representing the migratory wave to the Miami area, from Cuba and other Southern neighbors. The background scenery of waves reinforces the concept. The addition of a voice over narrative to explain the migration patterns and changing social mores and cultural evolution of the time with the existing slow wave backdrop, would be of appeal and enhance the production.
Barring expansion on the production side regarding the cultural and social evolution theme, or in addition to doing so, the inclusion of an expository piece, prior to the each program scene listing, which provides the reader with a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of era featured in each scene would be interesting and appealing. The expository overview for each Scene would foster a deeper understanding of the productions underlying concept of the history of Social dance and cultural evolution all unified by Passion.
*Steps off soap box*
Want to read or see more?
Past SWAY reviews of the 2014 performances: 12/18 with Meryl Davis, 12/19 performance without Meryl Davis, and the first run of SWAY on 7/26. Info on ticketing and VIP benefits for the June 2015 SWAY production run. There are additional posts listed elsewhere on this page.
For more details on SWAY, including a series of delightful ‘Making of SWAY’ videos, go to: SWAYshow.com
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To learn more about Dance With Me dance studios and how to learn to dance, go to: Dance With Me USA
There’s something about moving, something about interpreting yourself to the music, that’s attractive, that’s interesting, that’s intriguing, and everyone wishes they could do that. ~ Maksim Chmerkovskiy