THE event of the Junction Arts Festival 2011 program, So You Think You Can Interpretive Dance, was lucky enough to secure me as their celebrity judge to give some credibility to Thursday night's performance.
After pushing my way past the crowds of adoring fans clamouring for my autograph, and the paparazzi competing to get the best photo of me outside Fresh on Charles, I was quickly ushered into the green room (with its distinct lack of Perrier, note to Manager!) with the other VIP judges who were greatly impressed to be working with me.
Host Ian Pidd gushingly introduced me to the capacity audience as “coming straight from powdering her nose” and the uproarious clapping justly followed. Soon enough, I was poised with my judge’s-pen-of-love to offer my critical, but refreshingly fair, feedback to the ten contestants who were waiting eagerly in the wings to hear what I had to say and to see the fabulous faux fur coat and [insert product placement here] sunglasses perched perkily on my newly designed nose.
There were many highlights and touches of brilliance in the show: when I told Gulliver that he had channelled Michael Jackson, Usher and Norman Gunston during his performance to “Right Here Waiting”; when I ran out of 'describing' words that go with 'doing' words after using up all of my big words (like ‘great’, ‘cool’ and ‘wow’), on the first seven contestants; when I renamed Marian as Merriweather-Trixie-Belle-Pixie-Baby-Poodle so I could give myself a bit more mic and camera time.
But some of the contestants provided entertainment too: Bella and Evie, who gave a heartfelt performance to “Wuthering Heights”, with moments of sheer winding, windy, moors; Nick and 8-months pregnant Penny, who not only danced to “I Had the Time of My Life” but had clearly lived it eight months earlier; and Dylan, who managed “Flashdance”, “High School Musical”, “Beautiful People" and something strangely brilliant with a carrot all in two minutes of interpretive dance.
Melody was a clear winner with her expressive performance to Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and not just because all three judges know her; she moved her body continuously throughout the performance, changed her expression more than once, and pointed to the audience at the right moments. All of this resulted in a superior performance of dance that even sour-faced judge Justin couldn’t mark lower than ‘2’.
A dance-off for second and third place, a collective dance to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and I can critically and fairly say that I had the time of my life. I swear it’s true. And I owe it all to you.
Wendy Newton, ditsy B-grade celebrity judge