A DJ with her hair in two mouse-ear-like buns
Children, Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Throwing shapes with Monski

Fringe World review: Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall ·
The West Australian Spiegeltent, 2 February ·
Review by Lydia Edwards ·

This rendition of her acclaimed Baby Disco Dance Hall was Monski Mouse’s debut at Fringe World but the Adelaide-based DJ is a seasoned performer, with stints at the Edinburgh, Brighton, Melbourne and Adelaide Fringes under her belt, as well as appearances at London’s Southbank Centre and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

It’s not surprising she has such an impressive resume. The Baby Disco Dance Hall – a music and dance party for under-fives and their parents/carers – is slick, seamless and, most importantly, a clear labour of love, honed over the last six years. From the moment my two-year-old daughter and I walked  into the Spiegeltent in the Festival’s Pleasure Gardens, we felt welcomed and energised, bopping inside to the tune of the BeeGee’s “You Should be Dancing”. My daughter couldn’t wait to get going and squealed at the excitement of the dark tent, multi-coloured spotlights and soft round lanterns – or “moons”, as she joyfully termed them –  arranged around the ceiling.

Whilst the atmospheric Spiegeltent is undoubtedly an exciting venue in its own right, mum-of-two Monski and her dancers could have staged their performance anywhere and achieved the same chemistry. Dressed in a 50s style rockabilly dress with her hair fashioned into two “mouse ear” buns, Monski is a bright, relaxed figure and has the rare gift of making both adults and young children feel at ease.

She’s an accomplished DJ, too, and it is just as easy to imagine her on the decks at a night club, which is undoubtedly part of her appeal. She deftly flicks from one track to the next, and the songs flow from high-octane to soft and slow, allowing parents and carers to whisk their little ones through the air one minute and hold  them cheek to cheek the next. This was timed with a clear knowledge and understanding of children’s energy and interest  levels, and Monski never dwelt on one theme for too long.

The songs ranged from all-ages favourites, such as “Shake it Off'” and “Rock Around the Clock”, to under fives’ hits like “Rockabye your Bear” (popularised by the Wiggles), at which almost all children (and parents) let out a shriek of delighted recognition. Aided by Monski’s instruction, each song enabled children of different ages and stages to participate, dancing closely with their parents or clapping along independently. Her two engaging aides were positioned  directly below her on the dance floor, demonstrating steps and dancing directly with the audience. None of the three ever seemed to be “trying too hard”, as can often be the case with children’s theatre and music, and their naturalness was a key part of their charm.

Monski and her crew seemed to understand that the music and atmosphere may be overwhelming for some small children, and consequently the audience was not pressured to interact. Perhaps because of this, though, everyone did: and whether you were throwing shapes with abandon or swaying quietly off to the side, this was a chance for introverts and extroverts alike to connect. The session ended with a freeform conga line around the stage, allowing the audience to get a closer look at the rest of the “mirror tent” with its intricate décor and significant history.

My daughter danced around the Pleasure Gardens after we left the tent, miming the moves for “Rockabye Your Bear” in the  late afternoon sun. Thanks, Monski: she’ll sleep well tonight.

Monski Mouse’s season at Fringe World has finished but head to www.monskimouse.com for more info about her shows.

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