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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Dancers step up to entertain at the soon-to-open Motiongate Dubai

A new theatre show based on a famous dance-film franchise hits the stage at the soon-to-open Motiongate Dubai, where the theme park’s entertainment features 400 performers.
Members of the Step Up cast are from all over the world, including Italy, New Zealand, Ukraine, the UK and Japan. Victor Besa for The National
Members of the Step Up cast are from all over the world, including Italy, New Zealand, Ukraine, the UK and Japan. Victor Besa for The National

DUBAI // Lights are being hammered in and a trampoline and bungee wall installed as workmen put the finishing touches to a new theatre and stage show.

The new venue is part of the soon-to-open Motiongate Dubai theme park, which will be hosting a show based on the last two instalments of the dance-film franchise Step Up.

About 3,000 performers have been auditioned in casting calls around the world, with another 2,000 more sent in by video. Just 20 performers made the final cut for the Step Up musical.

The park, which is scheduled to open on December 16, will also be home to attractions based on other movies, such as Ghostbusters and Shrek.

Elaine Hinds, entertainment director for the park, is in charge of the theme park’s 400 performers. Ms Hinds said that the 18 months of preparation “had its challenges but it’s been incredibly fun”.

Some of the creative minds -behind the show include choreographer Geo Hubela, who starred in the original Step Up film, and veteran Broadway -director Michael Clowers.

Matthew Checketts, 29, is the male performance captain at the park, meaning he has to be ready to stand in at any time in any -given performance.

“It’s been a roller coaster, being a brand new show in a brand new theme park,” the British dancer said. “But there have been more highs than lows.”

Ms Hinds has supported the casting for all three of Dubai Parks and Resorts’ theme park openings this year – Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai and Motiongate Dubai.

Cast members are from all over the world, including Italy, New Zealand, Ukraine, the UK and Japan.

“They all came in here as strangers, with language barriers, cultural differences, yet through the course of the dance and performance, we can bring them all together,” Ms Hinds said.

“It doesn’t matter that you don’t speak the same language, because through dance and performance they bond and -become that cast and crew.”

As opening night draws closer, she said after two years or more of work, it was surreal to see how far things had come.

“From writing scripts to the casting to seeing all this come together, it’s been surreal and rewarding, seeing it come to life.”

The show will be performed up to six times a day at the 1950s Hollywood-style theatre for guests at the park.

Jason Ramsburg, director of live entertainment, said Dubai was the perfect place to bring the diverse cast together.

“The show focuses around so many nationalities, which works so well here because Dubai is a melting pot.”

Maryann Nucifora, 24, is the performance captain for the women.

The Australian dancer auditioned in February in Sydney and found out she was moving to -Dubai in April. She was most excited to be part of an original cast and an all-new show.

“It’s been good but crazy since arriving,” she said. “I’ve been here every day, doing a lot of stage time. I’ve learnt so much since being here, especially working with Geo and Michael.

“I really wanted to be a performance captain and studied a lot for that back home, so for me this is amazing.”

mswan@thenational.ae

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