For some, standing in front of an audience without any plan of what they’re doing is a recurring nightmare – and the only one worse than that is looking down to realise you’re naked.
But a collection of Townsville’s most confident creatives are thriving, with Season Two of Improvo Nights set to shake up the city in 2018.
The events, which feature the most diverse lineup of local performers imaginable, began in 2017 when belly dancer Jordan Galliott was looking for a fundraiser that showcased creativity.
“Initially, the thought behind it all was that we wanted to do something that people would show up to and support, but which related to our craft and helped the arts community at the same time,” Jordan said.
“It’s a contest with 10 performers and two rounds. In the first round, we put a lot of trust and faith in the performers; they’re allowed to choose their own music but can’t choreograph anything for it. You can tell when people cheat, everyone can tell. People are usually pretty good though, so everyone performs firstly to a song they’re comfortable with. Then a panel of judges gives them each a score and the three highest scorers go through to the next round, where they’re beholden to my playlist – which ranges from Ukrainian violin pieces to Missy Elliott. We just hit shuffle, so even I have no idea what they’re going to dance to!”
If previous nights are any indication, there’s no single performance style more likely to win over others.
“Last time, our finalists were a team of tap dancers, a hip hop dancer and a belly dancer – they all did really well with music that wasn’t particularly suited to what they would usually perform with, so it was awesome.
“While I don’t think competition is the best when it comes to inclusiveness, we’re trying to keep that side of things really low-key and just have an accessible and enjoyable event, whether you’re performing or a spectator.”
“Our goal at the end of the day is to build a more diverse and inclusive dance and performance community in Townsville. The Improvo Nights include everything from circus to tap, so it really is about bringing everyone together. It doesn’t matter what the social construct, there just always exists a social hierarchy and some sort of divide. The divides are irrelevant at the end of the day though: they’ve been built up over such a long period of time that we no longer understand why they’re there.
“Trying to break down those walls, getting everyone to play nice and talk to each other, is one of the best things – despite Townsville being small, there’s still so many people in the performance space you’ve never seen! There’ll be dancers who have been here for 10 years and you’ll just think, ‘How have I never met you before?’ I would love to have that openness for myself and see it evolve in our community as well.”
Catch Improvo Nights s2E1 at the Heritage Exchange this Saturday from 7pm, with more information available here.