Brian Roe - 7 October 2013
DrillDance made its debut at the Australian Masters Games yesterday and left no-one disappointed.
The colour and precision-filled two hour contest was played out to a packed house at the Leisuretime Centre at Norlane West, involving two medal events – technical drill and thematic dance.
It’s a sport ripe for a Roy and HG commentary - full of sharp moves, elaborate costuming, improvisation and surprises.
National Technical Director, Anne Rybak proudly welcomed spectators to the sport’s inaugural participation at the Games which featured around 65 of the 150 nationally registered masters competitors – yesterday including just one man - Queensland’s Mark Grant.
There was just one hitch and a very minor one at that - a music malfunction that temporarily delayed the start of the technical performance from Brisbane’s Xtreme Conxion. But offered a chance to re-group, team leader Maree Austin quickly declined, proclaiming that they were Queenslanders – and tough!
Austin, at 55, is passionate about her sport that emerged 18 months ago from a re-branding of girls marching, a sport that was hugely popular in Australia in the 1960s and 70s.
“I’ve been in it since I was 12. I’ve marched, coached and judged – I love it with a passion. It’s still all very competitive – when you start at 12 you don’t lose it,” Austin says.
“We still train hard, always at least a two hour session each week and in preparation for competitions sometimes up to five hours a day, as we did on Friday and yesterday.
“But whilst we train hard, we enjoy it and make lifelong friends and bonds, particularly through being part of a team - after all when you play on the road, its best to play on the road together.”
Most importantly for Austin, she sees her sport as one that does not discriminate,
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re tall, short, skinny or a little bit chunky - we are a sport for all. You learn as you go. We’ve also got some visually impaired marchers.”
Age is clearly no barrier with competitors from the minimum entry age for yesterday’s event of 30 through to the most senior – Wynnum, Queensland’s Lesley Young at 72.
Rybak says her sport across all the age groups in generally more relaxed these days – at least in terms of the rules, with a lot more interpretation and expression allowed in the thematic component. But it was clear throughout yesterday’s contest that this might perhaps have been the most keenly fought out set of medals at this week’s Games.
United DrillDance came out on top in the technical contest, a set routine of ten movements performed by each of the competing teams – ahead of Classic Connection and Tasocs United. In thematic dance, the Connection prevailed, with silver going to the quite different routine of Regal Seville and the bronze to United.
The Australian Masters Games will be staged until Saturday 12 October and is one of Australia’s largest multi sporting events.
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