Flip Flops and Slingshots

20th February 2023 Progressive Players News
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In addition to her acting role in our February 2023 production of Bothered and Bewildered,
Progressive Players member Trish Turnbull took on an extra task for the show, as she explains…

During the first rehearsal for Bothered and Bewildered I happened to mention to Muriel, the director, that I once did some Lindy Hopping. She asked me if I could choreograph some steps for two of the characters, which the script required. I replied that I would be happy to help. This may have been a bad move on my part, as I am waiting for a hip operation. Nevertheless I was able to work with Muriel (and Jim on sound) to develop a short sequence and give some direction to the actors, without accident!

My possibly misplaced confidence comes from a life-long love of dance. Originally this involved watching many types of dance, then leaning towards social folk dancing. This in turn developed into leading an amateur Appalachian step dancing group in the 80s and 90s, which included a trip to America to learn from my then idols, The Fiddle Puppets. We performed at various festivals around the country before the team retired due to members (including me eventually) developing joint problems as a result of the very energetic and high impact nature of the dance. I was also in a professional ceilidh band playing for social dancing. Since then I have been a frequent visitor to Dance City in Newcastle, spending several years learning Ceroc (a type of swing dance), line dancing and some ballroom and Irish dancing. Until very recently I performed with the Addison Rapper and Clog team.

My other motivation to be involved in the dance aspect of this play is my annoyance when watching dance moves performed in many films where the dancers are not dancing in time to the music! I have enjoyed being involved in some plays for the Progressive Players at the Little Theatre where dance has been integral, such as Stepping Out, and in other plays where, for example, an actor needed help to do a passable waltz – a skill which is not a social requirement in this day and age.

Muriel had the great idea of asking all the cast members to do some of the basic moves, so that Nathan and Rosie, who needed to learn them, did not feel uncomfortable. I explained that the Lindy Hop originated in the 1920s from the black community in America and involves using a low centre of gravity, lots of arm swinging and sticking your bum out. Not an elegant type of dance, and difficult to do. If you watch clips of it on YouTube you’ll see it can be very energetic and amazing to watch, especially the aerial moves. Having reassured the cast that they were not expected to learn these, everyone entered the exercise enthusiastically, some having had very little dance experience.

I hope that the enjoyment of this type of dance comes over in our production, evokes memories for some of the older members of the audience, and demonstrates the developing relationship of the two young lovers in the play.

It has been good to bring some of my other life experience to the play which has been a great “ensemble” effort. I think that, in all the plays we put on, there are many members’ skills put to good use which the audience cannot always be fully aware of.

(And in case you were wondering about the title of this blog, the Flip Flop and the Slingshot are the names of dance steps in the Lindy Hop!)