Features Guest Column Published 3 February 2014

Drunk on Dance

Drew McOnie choreographed the recent production of Chicago at Leicester’s Curve Theatre and the UK tour of James and the Giant Peach. Drunk, the debut production from his new dance theatre company, opens this week at the Bridewell Theatre in London.
Drew McOnie

To me, dance is the purest form of self expression and so it is no wonder that I am a strong believer in the power and importance of dance with in theatre and in particular music theatre.  I have been in love with the art of movement from a very young age. Watching the way people’s bodies respond to different emotions and social circumstances is fascinating and relevant to all of  us. It’s also funny to think that people are actually dancing all the time without even realizing they are doing it; darting through the crowds during rush hour, leaping through the closing doors of the train, swirling off a chair at lunch just in time to catch a falling glass, pulling your partner closer towards you for an embrace. Even a hug is a form of dance: a contraction of sorts.

One of the biggest misconceptions about dance in my opinion is that it is perceived to be an elitist art form. I think in the short time you have been reading this article you will have picked up that I strongly disagree with this notion. Dance is quite simply for everyone. After working myself, as a dancer, in both the Contemporary and the music theatre dance industries, it didn’t take me long to work out that even within the dance world there were also a series of misconceptions. Dancers and dance makers that create within all sorts of different areas of the industry can have very set and judgmental opinions about each other’s artistic creations. Whether this is down to the way they were trained or not we can never know.

I believe that if we want to have the opportunity to be creating dance in years to come we should all work together to make dance accessible and relevant and support each other in developing audiences and introducing people to dance in whatever way we can. The notion of competition in our industry can sometimes leave people with the idea that if one person is successful it means that no one else can be, and again this is something I disagree with. We are all tying to create exciting work that is the purest version of our own voice and with this in mind we can only really compete with ourselves.

It was the collection of these feelings that spurred me onto launching The McOnie Company, a new theatre dance company that is at its heart, a celebration and exploration into the world of Musical Theatre Choreography. The company’s mission is to creating narrative, dance-lead productions that appeal to both the music theatre and pure dance audiences. The company holds a thirst for new music writing and is set to collaborate with some very exciting composers from the world of theatre and jazz over the coming years. Through the company I’m committed to creating innovative work that is relevant and accessible to new audiences.

Drunk: the company in rehearsal

Drunk: the company in rehearsal

Our premiere production Drunk runs throughout February at the Bridewell Theatre in central London and has already received an overwhelming response from our preview audiences in Leicester, many of whom had never seen a dance company before. Its wonderful seeing the ideas that have been bouncing around my head come together, and sharing them with an audience for the first time was an unforgettable experience.

Drunk is cocktail of song and dance that takes audiences on a high spirited journey, from the ‘Shots’ – full of stag do lads with an aggressive case of ‘little man syndrome’ – to ‘Martini’, the Bond inspired love rat. Drunk celebrates not only man’s greatest vice and the victims who fall prey to its mood altering qualities but one woman’s journey to self confidence. Through the course of the evening you will meet many characters, many of whom you will have met before, and hopefully have some laughs along the way.  We hope you’ll come along and raise a glass with us to new work, and perhaps you’ll think differently the next time the barman asks you what you want.

DRUNK is at the Bridewell Theatre, London, from 5th February – 1st March 2014.