There was something different about this year’s Dance Day and it wasn't just the record numbers...
On a chilly Sunday morning more than 1700 students and close to 4000 spectators gathered on the steps of the Opera House to take part in the biggest event of Sydney Eisteddfod’s Calendar. The newly renovated Concert Hall seemed an apt venue for the relaunch of Dance Day in a post-covid world. Sure, there were masks, new marshalling protocols, and litres of hand sanitiser but the energy was unmistakable.
we were back
live and onstage
…and boy did it feel good!
We started the day as we meant to continue, a wash of sequins and colours streaming into the Opera House as the entrants from events 529 and 530 assembled. Tourists and locals alike looked on with interest as portable speakers started up and last-minute rehearsals began. It’s been a long time since Sydney has seen an event like this.
As the morning events were danced, adjudicated and announced, the intricate people ballet began, with one group of students replacing another, miraculously never seeming to run into each other in the narrow corridors of the Opera House (thank you production team!).
Through this changeover, Sydney Eisteddfod staff noted the patience and understanding displayed by every performer, teacher, and parent. Masks came on and off at the correct times with little prompt, social distancing was followed, and any inconvenience or delay was met with a smile.
With the help of this combined effort, Dance Day continued.
"any inconvenience was met with a smile..."
In a flurry of colour and somehow even more sequins, the afternoon sessions began! Events 524, 528 and 525 began to fly by, with school after school taking their moment on the stage.
As we waited in the wings, the performers wide-eyed excitement and hushed whispers revealed how important these opportunities really are. Nerves gave way to focus as each group had their moment in the spotlight. One by one they were welcomed to the stage as family and friends cheered on, supporting these young performers, finally able to do what they love best once again.
"Nerves gave way to focus as each group had their moment in the spotlight"
The final event of the day featured 34 groups, making up almost a third of the total numbers for the day. The event past with some of the most polished and elaborate routines of the day. As the final school finished their routine, two representatives from each group began to assemble, the orderly line stretching past the wings, ending just shy of the other side of the stage.
As Sydney Eisteddfod General Manager Annette Brown called them onto stage, the representatives filled a space that holds symphony orchestras, a dazzling array of costumes forming neat rows to fit everyone in. All this representing a small fraction of one event… the sheer scale of Dance Day is sometimes difficult to visualise, but this did the trick.
The sun had well and truly set by the time Dance Day 2022 came to an end. Walking through the forecourt to Circular Quay, groups of performers, teachers and families gathered to chat. Competitors, still operating on performance adrenaline, ran circles around each other. The strict, separated costumes of the events had dissolved into a sea of colours with competition and routine forgotten as entrants swapped stories on their walk home.