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Put on your dancing shoes for Norfolk and Norwich Festival marathon

PUBLISHED: 09:42 13 March 2013 | UPDATED: 10:46 13 March 2013

Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2013. Pictured: Dance Marathon. Credit: Gordon Hawkins

Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2013. Pictured: Dance Marathon. Credit: Gordon Hawkins

Copyright: Gordon Hawkins

People are being encouraged to start tapping their toes and hit the dance floor for a marathon event coming to the city as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival this May.

Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2013. Pictured: Dance Marathon. Credit: Janet BaxterNorfolk & Norwich Festival 2013. Pictured: Dance Marathon. Credit: Janet Baxter

North American company Bluemouth Inc is bringing its show Dance Marathon to Norwich’s Epic Studios, and it’s a show where the audience are most definitely centre stage.

For rather than being asked to take their seats, the audience members are instead asked to find their numbered feet on the floor before the dancing fun begins in the event which is being supported by the Evening News during its stay in the city.

But Stephen O’Connell, from Bluemouth Inc, said there’s no need for people to be nervous about getting involved.

“People expect to sit, but this is a show where you are going to dance!” he said.

Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2013. Pictured: Dance Marathon. Credit: Janet BaxterNorfolk & Norwich Festival 2013. Pictured: Dance Marathon. Credit: Janet Baxter

“It’s about people celebrating dancing, and dancing together.

“I think when people get there they worry about participation but then they get involved and they realise how fun it is!”

The show – which premiered in Toronto and has been performed in Vancouver, Ireland, Edinburgh and the Barbican in London – takes its inspiration from human endurance contests in 1920s and 1930s America and also from today’s reality TV culture.

Mr O’Connell said: “The piece is basically inspired by the dance marathons that happened in North America during the depression era. They were endurance contests and people would dance for days at a time to win prizes. People could win a couple of thousand dollars which was a lot of money at that time.

“The rules were that you had to keep moving continuously – although every two or three hours you would get a 15-minute break to eat or sleep. The longest one I think went on for 32 days.

“The show is also inspired by the modern reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol – the idea of local people showing their talents.”

Mr O’Connell said the audience are encouraged to dance from the very beginning.

“When the audience members arrive they register as a contestant and are given a bib with a number. When the theatre opens the floor is covered in feet with numbers on them and the audience are told to find their number, and through this they are partnered with a complete stranger for the first half of the show.

“In the second half you can choose your partner, so you can stay with your first partner or go back with your friends.

“It is like a metaphor for life – when you are born you don’t choose your family but later on you can choose your friends.”

Throughout the evening couples in the audience – who are joined on the dance floor by about 15 to 20 local dancers as well as the 10-strong Bluemouth Inc team – battle it out to be crowned the champions by dancing to an eclectic mix of music played by a live band.

Mr O’Connell said: “In the course of the evening there’s a series of eliminations until at the end there’s just one couple left. Some of the eliminations are dance related, some are trivia questions, some are questions of morality.

“There’s also something we call ‘second chance dance’ where people who have been eliminated have the opportunity to win their way back into the marathon.”

He added there was also an “optional elimination” at the beginning for people who really don’t want to dance but want to stay and watch.

He said one of the great things about the show is how it unites people of all ages and backgrounds.

“It’s just wonderful – it doesn’t matter what culture, age or generation – everybody likes to dance,” he said.

For those people who want to get dancing, Mr O’Connell has the following advice ahead of the contest.

“Drink lots of water and wear comfy shoes like trainers instead of high heels.

“Those are the two things, as well as eyeing up the competition!”

Local performers and musicians interested in performing in the show should contact the Norfolk and Norwich Festival on 01603 877750 or email info@nnfestival.org.uk

Bluemouth Inc’s Dance Marathon is a 210-minute show at Epic Studios, in Norwich, on May 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 at 7.30pm. Tickets each night £15.

To book tickets go to www.nnfestival.org.uk, call 01603 766400, or visit the Theatre Royal box office.

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