Twinkle-toed taxi drivers in Edinburgh have impressed Dance Base bosses as they battle to become brilliant ballerinas.
The drivers have been put through weeks of hard-core ballet tuition so they can front-up a Creative Scotland-backed initiative to encourage people to dance. And the results are said to be impressive.
A filmed performance they’re set to appear in will be used to publicise “Get Scotland Dancing” – to the delight of staff at Dance Base, in the Grassmarket, who took on the task of transforming the lumbering cabbies into graceful dancing gazelles.
A spokeswoman for Dance Base said: “They’ve blown us away with what they have learned.”
The guys – all from Central Taxis – have a long standing relationship with the dance company, as they ferry their workers to rehearsals and appearances in the city. Central Taxi’s boss Tony Kenmuir, 44, of Corstorphine, said it was this connection that resulted in Dance Base asking if drivers “would be up for taking part in a little video they were putting together to illustrate that dancing is for everyone, no matter their age, size or experience”.
He added: “They were looking for people with no experience, the more unfit the better – I wonder why they thought taxi drivers might fit the bill!”
For the last three weeks Mr Kenmuir and five of his workers have been rehearsing solidly – to the point where they now feel pretty accomplished. And – despite being thrust into the task by the “women in the office” – Mr Kenmuir says he’s really enjoying himself.
He said: “Any self-consciousness pretty much melted away within the first five minutes and we’ve all gotten quite in to it. We even organised a couple of extra rehearsals at people’s houses so we could really try and get our moves down. Or as down as we’re going to get them. I won’t lie – we’re still far from perfect! But I think that’s the whole point – getting professionals to do it would defeat the purpose. This is about showing dance really is for absolutely everyone.”
Fellow dancer Keith “Too Tall” McCall, 44, agrees that the process has been “surprisingly fun”, though he admits when it comes to dancing, he has “two left feet”.
He said: “Tony told me about the project and I thought it sounded like an interesting thing to do, but I know from experience that I am a terrible dancer. But my wife encouraged me to go along, she said I might learn something. I doubt I’ll be winning any competitions soon, but they’re going to be filming for a couple of hours when they make the video, so hopefully they’ll just use the good bits.”
The group has already delighted tourists and locals alike with an impromptu display at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade – which is on our website.
But for the Central Taxis dancing drivers, it really is the taking part that counts.
Stevie Valente, 50, said: “I immediately agreed to get involved. It’s something different and interesting to do and I’m really enjoying it. I told my wife, but I kept it a secret from my daughters. I can’t wait to show them that their old dad can still surprise them!”