Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bring Back the Man

So the next Bond instalment is almost upon us. Picking up where Casino Royale left off, Quantum of Solace promises the usual 007 prerequisites of danger, betrayal, and forbidden love.

It’s what we’ve come to expect of a brand that has become a genre in itself. A formula that has stood the test of time by adapting to the times – politically and socially.

And when it comes to the latter, Bond himself is the masculine zeitgeist. The man every woman wants, and every man wants to be - even before we know it ourselves.

Consider the turnaround in sentiment for Daniel Craig.

I wasn’t the only one to question his appointment in late 2005. Critics were thick on the ground. Could a 37 year-old English actor, little known outside his native Britain, take up the revered Bond mantle?

A sixth successor. And the first blonde.

Perhaps that’s what first threw me. The blonde hair – it didn’t look right. Then again, he just didn’t seem right altogether. It was hard to put my finger on at the time. But like most of my friends who fell for the new gritty version, I would soon learn that Bond is always ahead of the time.

Sure, Pierce Brosnan was good – he must have been doing something right to last four films. But in the wake of a 90s metrosexual onslaught, women were craving something more of their leading man, on and off screen. Something more… manly.

The relatively short-lived ideal of the modern male as someone who cared about fashion and skin care as much as women was losing steam. Just not with men.

Research shows that the international market for male skin care products has jumped 40 percent since 2001. Companies are investing huge amounts of money in men’s skincare including L’Oreal Paris, which hired Brosnan, to spruik its Men Expert skincare range.

And while men’s wanting to take of themselves is all good and well, I don’t want Bond telling me that “he’s worth it”. That’s a line reserved for his female counterpart Halle Berry.

It was the melting icing on the cake of the Brosnan Bond reign. And taking its place, a buffet of masculine grit a la Daniel Craig.

The new Bond doesn’t need fancy gadgets. He uses his bare bloody hands. He makes mistakes and he pays the price. He’s suave without trying. And the female clincher, he shows emotional vulnerability.

Like Christian Bale’s raw new Batman, Craig’s Bond is refreshingly flawed and that’s what makes him so appealing. He displays a brooding intensity that delves beyond the cinematic fantasy and a gritty realism that shows on his face.

Call me old fashioned, but rugged and weathered beats line-free on a man any day. A man who spends more time in front of the mirror than a woman? A smooth fore headed Bond? No thanks. Perfection is not the ideal. Bond should come rough and ready. And I keenly await his return on November 14.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Final Bow

Tuesday night marked the end of the road but Barry White was the perfect last stop.

Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe proved the ultimate finale song and I took to the stage for the last time feeling totally relaxed and ready to have fun.

I would have felt disappointed had we left any earlier because disco fever was without a doubt my favourite genre. Flares, hair, and glitter all round. What a way to go out!

It Takes Two has been an incredible journey exceeding my expectations on many different levels.

I knew it would be a fun experience but I had no idea it would be quite so challenging. And it would have been near impossible to get up there each week had it not been such a caring environment.

The cast and crew were very supportive of each other and I met so many great people led of course by the very talented and modest Adam Harvey.

Thanks for your support and don’t forget Adam is touring at the moment – all of the dates are on his website www.adamharvey.com.au. Enjoy the rest of the show and see you at the grand final on Tuesday 22 April.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

True Colours

Wow! That was some serious hair and make-up. My locks haven’t faced a crimping iron since the 1980s and as for the blue eye shadow and red lips… well let’s just say my true colours were definitely on full display.

Quite appropriate considering the song was certainly my toughest yet. It was a big turn around from the week before and my nerves came flowing back at full steam ahead, especially in those opening seconds. Channelling your nervous energy into a dance number is much easier than a slow and still song. And boy did I feel it!

But we lived to sing another week – phew! And I am so excited about pulling out the dance moves again. Disco will no doubt be one of my favourite genres and wait until you hear Adam – he has some serious low notes coming up (even for him!)

I have had so many songs swirling in my head the past few months so this week will be a welcome break before we return to the stage on Tuesday 25 March.

And now that summer has finally decided to make an appearance in Sydney… the beach is looking very nice indeed this weekend! Have a great Easter and see you for a little Disco fever soon.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

All Shook Up

I turned a corner last Tuesday night. For the first time I felt totally relaxed. My hands weren’t shaking. Gone were the nerves.

And I owe it all to the King - nothing like a little Elvis to loosen things up.

The entire performance felt so natural. I didn’t have to think about the moves or the words. And when my two minutes was up I didn’t want to leave the stage.

As a hunk a hunk a burning love came to an end all I could think about was dancing up a storm in that gorgeous swing skirt – all seven layers of it!

The fun started at our Sunday dance session as Adam and I attempted to shake, rattle, and roll our way through Burning Love.

Our choreographer Alana had already worked out quite a few moves, but it was certainly a work in progress and even Adam’s lovely Mum contributed a step or two.

On Monday we threw in a few extra hours of practice to make sure we were ready for our first stage run through.

During this time we usually trial our costumes and the first thing I noticed was my sliding pair of stiletto heels. Within minutes the wardrobe department was onto it - whipping the shoes off to be gripped.

They do an incredible job of putting our outfits together each week – creating a variety of looks within a specific genre while also considering things like dance moves and where the mic pack will fit.

By the time we took to the stage on Tuesday night I felt totally prepared. Adam and I knew it could very well be our last dance and keeping that in mind (rather than worrying about the song or moves) certainly helped me to relax. I managed to do exactly what I had hoped – let loose on the stage and simply have fun.

Our next song presents quite a few new challenges because once again it is a totally different style and pace. So far we’ve covered swing, rock, country, rock `n’ roll and now 80s Gold!

In terms of our song choices we are always one week ahead. By Tuesday each couple has already selected and workshopped the next song (despite the fact one singing duo will be leaving that night).

We choose four songs within each genre, but the final decision is out of our hands. It depends on the mix of music (fast or slow), what each couple performed the week prior, the level of difficulty, and whether the song will suit our voices while also revealing something new.

So much thought and consideration goes into every show and as you could imagine there are many people working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a slick production.

Each week I look forward to working with such a great cast and crew and it’s sad to think it could all be over in a flash. But in the meantime I’m making the most of it. Bring on the blue eye shadow and shoulder pads!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Doing Time For Patsy Cline

I finally had the guts to watch the show back last night.

To be honest I was quite nervous about reliving the experience (like they say you are your own worst critic).

But from beginning to end I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

From Grease through to This Kiss, I thought the entire cast (and crew) put on a great show and most importantly we all had a blast!

Yes my nerves got a hold of me again and my pitch was far from perfect, but what an opportunity – performing a Patsy Cline number with such a remarkable country crooner.

It was particularly special to have my Mum in the audience. If `you are your own worst critic’ then surely as Slim Dusty wrote in 1966 `you can never do wrong in a mother’s eyes.’

Each week we survive is icing on top of the cake and next Tuesday we’ll be serving up a feast of rock and roll.

I actually saw Adam perform the song a few weeks ago at his gig in Albury and he rocked the stage.

It’s going to take some serious choreography so this Sunday we’ll be put through our dancing paces. Then on Monday we have a good half an hour or so to rehearse on stage before the final run through on Tuesday afternoon.

It’s amazing how much time and effort goes into a two minute performance. From song selection through to movement classes and wardrobe, the lead up is as much fun as the actual show.

But of course the hardest bit is actually forgetting everything you've learnt when it comes to the night - throwing it all out the window and just letting loose on stage.

I think our next song will be the perfect opportunity to do just that!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Scraping Through

When I left Saturday Disney almost three years ago, I thought my days of crazy characters and outfits had sadly come to an end. But all that changed on Tuesday night.

Strapping on my air guitar and thrashing it out on stage to Powderfinger was the ultimate thrill. Not to mention presenting the weather for the six o’clock news in my rock chick getup.

I also had the pleasure of watching Adam perform in Albury last week. He is such a natural performer and it was great to see him on stage. When he invited me up to sing, the audience made me feel very welcome so I felt quite relaxed.

We sang one of my all time favourites and I felt spoilt having the opportunity to sing it on stage with Adam. Next week you’ll see us perform it again for the country genre – I can’t wait!

My nerves weren’t as bad last week so hopefully that’ll only improve. Although I have to admit the elimination process was very nerve-wracking, especially when we were the last three on stage. I thought it was all over.

Several thoughts flashed through my mind. Firstly, what a shame Adam and I wouldn’t have the chance to perform country given it’s his thing. Secondly, my Mum (who lives in Dubai) had just emailed to tell me she was flying over to watch me perform the following week. And thirdly, I was having too much fun to leave!

Thankfully we made it through and I think last week taught me a good lesson. Obviously song choice is really important and even though I love Powderfinger, the song didn’t really give me the chance to show off much vocal range. All that thrashing on stage also made it quite hard to sing!

Next week’s song is simple, but incredibly beautiful and emotional. Every time I hear it I feel her pain and that's what I hope to portray. This Tuesday it’s all about the music.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shaking it Out

Well I finally managed to get some sleep last night after almost three days of feverish insomnia. Thank goodness! I was beginning to think Fever had left an indelible mark on my brain – how many more times could I replay that song in my head.

As you could imagine, it was quite a build up to the first show. We had three days of rehearsals, culminating in a final dress rehearsal that finished just three hours before the real deal.

My nervous energy was well and truly building by that stage. The rate at which I was downing the mini-chocolate bars and lollies in the green room probably didn’t help. Nor did seeing everyone else on stage – what an impressive group of performers!

It was quite a relief when show time finally came around. And being second in the line-up meant I could relax early in the piece.

When I first took to the stage, I was surprised at how relaxed I felt. Unfortunately it didn’t last long or rather my hands didn’t last long. To be honest I didn’t feel nervous, but my hands told a different story. In fact I was forced to grab the microphone with two hands just to control my shaking!

Nonetheless I was happy with our performance. It was certainly challenging, but I had a lot of fun on stage with Adam. He is a very calming mentor and his words of encouragement made such a difference. Not to mention his beautifil voice.

Next week we’ll be rocking it out on stage and I can’t wait to do something more up beat. I didn’t realise how exposed I’d feel at the beginning of Fever. The band seemed so quiet and I had to be so controlled with my movements.

Hopefully next week my hands will be too busy playing air guitar to shake!