Concept, Music and Lyrics: Sam Cassidy
Director and Choreographer: Ainsley Ricketts
Whatever the fairy tales want us to believe, no one lives happily ever after, at least not without a fight. Sam Cassidy and Ainsley Ricketts realise this with their new dance piece developed originally as a stage show but now repurposed as a dance film. The world premiere of Wait for Me, available via INPLAYER for a small fee, is an emotive and beautifully staged story about finding true love and what happens next.
Two celestial beings co-exist in a heavenly state until they are separated and sent to earth to watch over Emma and Jack, two single people destined to be together. As the angels orchestrate a meet and oversee a series of romantic dates, the couple seem destined for a perfect life as they exchange vows. But tragedy is just around the corner, putting their relationship and the power of the angels to the test.
Described as a dance musical, Cassidy and Ricketts have created a show where music and dance, songs and choreography work in harmony with performance in every moment of the show. This is particularly impactful during the sequences devoted to tragedy where Eloise Davies and Bluey Robinson’s vocals seem to express exactly what dancers Ricketts, Chrissy Brooke, Clarice Lanta Lilly and Jaih Betote are expressing in movement and acting.
The storytelling is superb, transporting the audience from the high and unashamedly romantic opener in which fluid ballet is merged with a popping movement that ripples across the shoulders as the music soars like a Hollywood epic, to the day-to-day reality of Emma and Jack’s life as they face the good times and the bad. But it is the ways in which the psychology of that experience is elucidated that makes Wait for Me such a special and sometimes quite touching experience.
Ricketts and Cassidy uses the camera to reflect the flow of activity and emotion within the dance, not just cutting to different angles but using swooping shots and trackers that move around the performers, mimicking their liquid-like grace. They mix blackouts with hidden cuts to move through the various chapters of this relationship, so cinematographer Nick Ross and lighting designer Matthew Carnazza employ shadow and haze to create tragedy and heightened romanticism within the tones of movement.
Dancers Ricketts and Lanta Lilly as the male and female angels utilise a wing like movement using their shoulders and positioned arms to enhance their ethereal status while their connection and syncopation is particularly strong. Chrissy Brooks and Jaih Betote match them on technical skills while also impressively eliciting all the happiness, drama and pain that their marriage brings.
Ricketts’ choreography frequently combines street dance and hip hop with Hollywood musicals and occasional notes of ballroom but smooths it all over with the fluidity and poise of classical ballet to create movements that are both expressive and impactful, while moving seamlessly but clearly between reality and fantasy.
If the story has a fault, it is perhaps the fast-forwarded section towards the end that skips from pain to resolution perhaps a little too quickly and while the ultimate fate of the couple and the circularity of the narrative that takes the audience back to a revised version of the opening sequence feels complete, that small section between the aftermath of the tragedy and the earth-based ending is sweet but a little redundant.
The audience for dance has not abated in recent months and this new production shows how much the industry has learned about engaging audiences and staging work that transitions so well to the screen. Rickett’s choreography combined with Cassidy’s composition and the breathy fantasy of the songs makes Wait for Me worth the pay-per-view investment.