Last night I took myself out to see 'Havana Rakatan'. It was awesome!
Watching these amazing dancers and musicians was fabulous. I also watched how the performers encouraged the audience to get involved with their show. It seemed like VERY hard work to get the Melbourne audience to clap along for sustained periods of time, and even harder to get people up dancing.
I started thinking about audiences - especially Melbourne ones. I have heard a number of performers speak of the reserved nature of Australian audiences. When Australian artists travel overseas, they find the response from the audience a bit overwhelming to begin with.
I saw an interview with The Wiggles who talked about American audiences whistling, cheering etc. They said this was so different to an Australian crowd who cheer - but only at the end of the show. During the show they are applauding loudly - but not with the the same gusto.
I caught the end of an interview with Tina Arena (Australian entertainer who has been in the lime light since she was 6) where she was comparing European crowds to Australian crowds. She stated that French and Italian crowds have no problem with screaming and applauding half way through a song. Australian crowds, she stated, were enthusiastic but subdued. She talked of the strange feeling, but honour, of being at the receiving end of a standing ovation in Australia.
So there I was last night bopping away and tapping along to the music but feeling quite on my own. I was on my own. (I had made the decision Monday night to go - so got on the internet and booked a ticket.) The man beside was reluctant to show much emotion. Occasionally he tapped his hand on his knee. In the row in front of me, a woman was eager to get up and boogie but her friends shook their collective heads and swayed her to remain seated.
Teaching teenagers music, I realise that part of my job is to encourage kids to feel the music and move to it. I happen to be teaching Cuban music to the year 8s (hence going to see Havana Ratakan last night!) and I tried to get one class dancing this week. There was a lot of nervous, embarrassed laughter. Not a lot of movement. We were playing instruments and they were concentrating on one activity at a time..........I also think that breaking through the Australian psyche is going to take a long time.