But can this innovative new style that blends the two together really be pulled off in a stadium full of rugby fans?
Exactly 1 year, 7 months and 3 days ago, I watched Rugby League ambassador and television smoothy, Gethin Jones announce the 2013 Rugby League World Cup would be in England and Wales. At no point back then did I think any form of dance would be incorporated into a sport where large, angry men slam each other to the ground. Elegance and poise combined with raw and aggressive athleticism… hmm. Strawberries and cream, fish and chips, Ant and Dec- all formidable duos, right? But rugby and dance?! Not got quite the same ring to it, has it? I was sceptical.
That was until I met with the dancers of Stage One Productions. They explained to me that the routine, one they will be performing in front of potentially 57,000 spectators in the Millennium stadium on Saturday,
embraces all kinds of elements from the sport. “One of my favourite parts is when we all come together to do a scrum” explained Conall, one of the dancers. It dawned on me; maybe rugby and dance aren’t so different after all…Both are extremely energetic, need precise footwork and require an exceptional level of dedication for success. Even choreographer, James Wilton (a lifelong rugby league fan) admits his routine is overwhelmingly influenced by rugby ‘moves’. “The dancers sort of throw themselves at each other in the way that rugby players tackle each other”, he says.
The routine will be performed before the opening game between England and Australia. Rehearsals have being going on for months and organisers faced the challenge of coordinating a total of 3,000 dancers. 500 of those were young people selected from different communities around Wales and the South West of England. Suddenly we see a heart-warming analogy emerge. The bringing together of dancing communities mirrors the performance on the pitch; one which artistically unites the competing nations in a sort of dance-rugby pastiche. For risk of sounding sickeningly lovey I will resist the temptation to claim the world is united by a passion for dance…
So, I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong to ever doubt it. I’m converted! Although Rugby-Dance is a style that I don’t think will EVER catch on, what I do know is that this Saturday’s opening ceremony will be an aesthetic explosion where sport blends with dance in one huge world cup firework. But watch it for yourself and make your own decision. Does it work? With the likes of Gethin Jones, ex rugby pro Martin Offiah and Strictly’s Camilla Dallerup and Erin Boag all showing off their own moves, it is a must watch for dancers and sports fans alike.
If you’re still confused by this mishmash of “Rance” or “Dugby” (ok, never going to happen) then check out this video posted by the RLWC 2013 website on http://www.rlwc2013.com/community_initiatives/dance_programme
Happy viewing and keeeeeeep dancing!