Part Dance Moms, part Hunger Games, and drawing parallels with the Netflix hit Cheer, Dance Nation is set to be one of the highlights of Adelaide Festival.
Clare Barron’s wild, award-winning comedy about a group of pre-teen dancers fighting for a national final will premiere at Adelaide Festival next month.
A co-production from State Theatre Company South Australia and Belvoir, Dance Nation will premiere at Adelaide’s Scott Theatre in February before heading to Belvoir’s Upstairs Theatre (Sydney) in March.
A dazzling cast of Australia’s finest established and emerging performers, including Strictly Ballroom’s Tara Morice and rising star Chika Ikogwe (Fangirls), will bring the Pulitzer Prize nominated comedy to life under the electric direction of Imara Savage (Mr Burns).
Morice says it’s fitting to be revisiting her teen years in Adelaide, the city in which she spent most of her school years.
“Dance Nation is a darkly funny reflection on the harsh realities of being a 13-year-old girl, so it’s uncanny that I’m back performing in Adelaide where I was living in 1977 as an insecure 13-year-old,” she says.
Joining Morice and Ikogwe as the teen dancers will be Yvette Lee, Rebecca Massey, Emma Harvie and Adelaide favourites Elena Carapetis, Amber McMahon and Tim Overton. The opening production of Artistic Director Mitchell Butel’s debut season will also star Butel himself, with the four-time Helpmann Award-winning actor taking on the role of the ferocious Dance Teacher Pat.
Off stage, an all-star creative team including designer Jonathon Oxlade, lighting designer Alexander Berlage, composer Luke Smiles and choreographer Larissa McGowan will bring Barron’s world to life.
Part-Dance Moms, part-Hunger Games, Dance Nation is at once a crushingly funny satire of ambition, adolescence, desire and friendship and a subtly subversive exploration of that time of life when the demons get in. Barron examines it all through a feminist lens, shining a light on the notion of gender roles and the ways in which young people are taught to embrace or quash their power from an early age.
Savage says Dance Nation is a ‘wildly theatrical ride’.
“I love how formally inventive and non-conformist the play is, and how it refuses to be categorised, switching deftly between performative spaces, interior monologues, memories and traditional scenes,” she says. “With a cast of some of our finest comic tragedians and a brilliant creative team, we’re super excited to bring Dance Nation to technicolour life.”
Dance Nation contains strong coarse language, adult themes, nudity and sexual references. Dance Nation is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc, a Concord Theatricals Company.
Dance Nation, Scott Theatre, 21 Feb – 7 Mar.