Eagerly expectant, an excited buzz fills the iconic Melbourne venue, Prahran’s Chapel Off Chapel as Donnie Dimase, one of Melbourne’s leading choreographers and dancers, prepares to showcase his first commercial dance production Cheap Luxuries and Expired Dreams.
The lights dim and the room becomes silent; a dancer approaches the spotlight and the magic begins.
The 13 professional dancers continually move across the stage as soloists and groups. Mesmerised, the audience watches as a range of formations are created throughout the show; a balance of fast and slow sections accompanied by a varying, complementary musical score. Their costuming reflects the diversity of movement as the dancers perform an ever-changing display including briefs and bras, swim suits, flower gowns, casual wear, pink dresses and open shirts. As impressive tricks and flips continue to excite the audience, the dancers cleverly incorporate props such as chairs, gas masks, baseball bats, beanies, beach towels and toy phones. Although the production is heavily commercial based, some short contemporary sections are also performed.
A range of lighting and stage effects are utilised to enhance the production experience. Coloured lights, spotlights, black and white flashing lights and blackouts create atmosphere while coloured LED lights line the back of the stage and video tape ornaments plot the sides.
With a small cast, the dancers are continuously kept on their feet. Despite quick changes and no interval, the show runs in a smooth professional manner. Sporting an almost-even gender balance, (seven females and six males), the cast has a unique range of characteristics such as hair colour, height, nationality and strengths. All dancers have strong technique and performance skills; they not only dance phenomenally, but also take advantage of their well-honed ability to use facial expressions and acting skills to constantly interact with the audience. An obviously tight-knit group, their support of each other is apparent through the discreet smiles they share when a skill is executed well.
The story line is original, unique and clear. Aimed at adults and older teenagers, due to the complex concepts and sexual references made throughout the performance, all characters are portrayed well and Dimase’s choreography is executed appropriately for the target audience.
Cheap Luxuries and Expired Dreams has many strengths. While future considerations include having a larger cast, bigger venue and more tickets available through the inclusion of more shows, this engaging performance is definitely worth seeing. Concluding with an upbeat, energetic group number that incorporates short solos for each cast member, the audience is left highly entertained, clapping, cheering and smiling from ear to ear.