March 26, 2010
My heart leapt as episode five of Sky’s Pineapple Studios opened with a burst of the high-energy dancing associated with this famous Covent Garden space used mainly by professional hoofers.
Then it sank, as the classful of leaping, swivelling and swaying boys and girls gave way to Louie, Pineapple’s middle-aged artistic director, who can’t get enough of posing, often pointlessly, for the camera.
But I warmed to Louie as the cameras followed him out of Pineapple and back to Bodywork, the dance academy in Cambridge where he learned to strut his stuff. It was interesting to see a video of the 40-year-old dancing passionately as a teenager; no wonder he enjoyed his day in the sun in top shows like Miss Saigon on the London stage.
However, the years of being too busy running Pineapple to do his own daily workouts have obviously caught up with Louie. My heart went out to him as he proved unable to keep up with students half his age in a warm-up at his old Cambridge stomping-ground. “I just want to be able to do what I used to be able to do” is the heartfelt wail of so many middle-aged dancers who have lost some of their stamina and flexibility.
But that’s where life experience comes in. What mature dancers do have to offer is a reflection of the lives they’ve lived, both the joys and the sorrows, and the ability to express those emotions on the floor. When Louie got to teach a class at Bodywork he found most of the young dancers technically accomplished, but lacking in passion: :”You should be able to make people cry when you dance,” he told his pupils - and promptly demonstrated with a totally convincing pas de deux he performed with old classmate Jane, who studied alongside him 25 years ago.
“I may be old, but I’ve got passion, smirked Louie, totally exonerating himself - and actually, all the multiple spins he performed at the start of his class belied his years. Louie really does still have what it takes, in technique as well as expressiveness; I’m sure Pineapple’s clients regard him as an inspiration.
Perhaps we will finally get to see more of Andrew Stone’s modern jazz class - once again, there was just a tantalising glimpse of it before the cameras went off on a frankly boring tangent following Andrew’s desire to become a pop star. Andrew, you may be able to sing, but I’d much sooner watch you dance!