The studio was 1930s in style with red tables and dimmed lighting. Candles reflected in the mirrors which lined the ballroom. No one would have thought it from the dingy stair way which leads up to Kingston Dance Studio.
When We Dance was a show one and a half years in the pipeline. Ballroom dancer Martina Burton had been to see Tenors Un Limited – the self-proclaimed Rat Pack of Opera – and “it was love at first sight.”
Martina and Michael Burton, Singapore International Professional Ballroom Champions, had come together to perform with Tenors Un Limited – Scott Ciscon, Jem Sharples and Paul Martin – to raise money for The Victoria Foundation which seeks to provide life enhancing medical assistance. The audience was about 70 strong sitting with teas and coffees giving the dance floor its border.
“Martina and Michael had a very clear vision, we just needed to find the right time and space,” said Ciscon.
There were some of the favourite classics, Nella Fantasia, La Traviata and Volare as well as a couple of songs written by Tenors Un Limited themselves, Viva La Vita and Fall in Love.
Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing to watch was Time to Say Goodbye. Michael entered the ballroom carrying Martina in a striking blue dress. She unfurled in his arms slowly as he turned across the floor to begin the dance.
A little girl sitting across the room, whose feet didn’t touch the floor, was clapping enthusiastically, clearly loving the dresses that Martina came out in. Vibrantly coloured and open back, with skirts which twirled in a way any young girl would find very satisfying.
The Tenors Un Limited stood poker straight looking dapper in their dark suits and high shirt collars, their eyes following Martina and Michael as they danced around the ballroom in a classic hold. It felt very prohibition era with the dilapidated building on the outside and art deco interior.
Fall in Love was a particularly striking routine. Martina was seated in the centre of the ballroom on a bar chair and Michael entered from the audience. The dancing was fluid and there was a clear dialogue between the couple.
There was plenty of dancing from the charismatic Tenors Un Limited as well. During Volare they serenaded one woman, eventually pulling her out onto the dance floor. Ciscon had a camera phone which he had taken off an audience member and was singing romantically into it before Martin got hold of it and did the same.
As they finished off Recipe, another lady found herself sitting on Ciscon’s lap. Sharples had been demanding “more smoke, more smoke” before he joined the tableaux and threw himself down in front of the lucky lady and sang up to her kicking his leg into the air for extra effect.
Largo was most impressive with the conversational nature of the song and the operatic trio embracing its quality and character.
Martina put it well: “I love their voices and what they do to us”. On this point everyone was in agreement. Reflecting on having the Tenors singing while they were dancing, Michael said: “It’s brilliant, there’s so much more atmosphere and feeling. We can put more into the dance”.
Images courtesy of Michael and Martina Burton and Tenors Un Limited