South Surrey dancing duo Makai and Rick Genovese are a welcome feature on dance floors in the Semiahmoo Peninsula – including at the Elks Club’s Latin Friday events and the Semiahmoo Music Consortium’s dances at Crescent Legion’s Club 240.
It’s not just the husband and wife team’s skilled moves that make them valued informal participants at local live music events. It’s also the sense of style, panache and sheer enjoyment they bring to dancing to music of all eras and styles, ranging from Roaring ’20s Charleston, to nostalgic ’50s and ’60s sounds, to more recent funk, soul and rhythm and blues purveyed by locally featured bands.
As a couple, their mutual joie-de-vivre always draws attention whenever they show up to dance.
“People often say ‘did you two just meet?’” said slim, gray-haired Rick, whose elegant line, as lead, provides a complementary frame to showcase effervescent Makai’s animated presence.
“We have a very full life,” commented Makai. “We love different styles of dance, we love to go out and we love to dress up.”
That very full life – which also includes karaoke singing together – recently acquired an extra, more formal, dimension when they were recruited to be featured principal dancers in a touring retro music show.
That show, Relive The Music – featuring multiple tribute singers and a live band of versatile multi-instrumentalists – takes audiences on chronological tour of music, history, trivia and hits from the Rock n’ Roll era of the 1950s through the 1960s.
It’s coming this Saturday (April 6, 7:30 p.m.) to the stage of the Bell Performing Arts Centre, 6250 144 St; but other nearby shows are coming up at Mission’s Clarke Theatre (April 13), New Westminster’s Massey Theatre (April 27) and Langley’s Chief Sepass Theatre (May 11) before moving on to the Interior and Vancouver Island in the fall.
The show is the brainchild of drummer-producer Steve Marshall, and a family venture for him, his wife, well-known Tina Turner impersonator Luisa Marshall, their daughters, singer and actress Zenia Marshall and lead guitarist Kimi, and also Luisa’s sister Tota.
Doing a stage show is a bit of a departure for him, Rick admits – by day he’s the principal of Virtuoso Capital Ventures, a real estate capital investment company – but for dance and modelling teacher Makai, who spent 20 years as a performer and instructor in Los Angeles, playing the revue is virtually second nature.
“She gravitates to that,” he said, noting that Makai originally heard about the performance opportunity and urged pursuing it.
“We already loved this kind of music – it’s been such fun to do,” Makai said.
They’ve been impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the Marshalls, as the show has involved into a vibrant showcase for the music – which encompasses hits associated with everyone from Dean Martin, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Patsy Cline and Budd Holly to the Four Seasons, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Sonny and Cher and Neil Diamond.
“Steve has created the show – he’s been into 1950s and 1960s music since 1971, when he got really good at picking out the hits that would later be used in all the (nostalgic) movies,” Rick said. “He talks a little about each artist and the history of the music – it’s really educational.”
“We work together well – it’s really like doing a show with family,” Makai added, noting that Zenia has really encouraged them to do a lot of research into authentic costumes for the show.
“She’s quite young, but she’s so knowledgeable in trying to keep the costumes era-specific,” she said. “For instance, we can’t use the ’60s psychedelic styles when we’re trying to evoke the clothes the guy- and girl-groups used to wear.”
The attention to detail – in music, look and showmanship – has already been connecting with audiences in shows on Vancouver Island and in the Interior, they said.
“We go out into the audience and we see people who dress ’50s and ’60s; but we also see grandmothers with their grandchildren in their laps, all clapping along to the music. It’s a great way for the family to bond.”
They also feel a strong family connection with the music, they said.
Makai, who grew up in Southern California, was a late child for her father, who had been a U.S. Army colonel during the Korean war.
“I grew up watching my dad dance with my mom at socials – as a little girl I wanted to be like them.”
Rick, who grew up in B.C., also remembers watching his parents dance at social events at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver.
“It was easy for me to learn how to dance, because I saw my parents doing it,” he said.
Even so, he noted, he had never taken a formal dance lesson until 10 years ago, when the couple – who met, unsurprisingly, on a dance floor in Palm Springs – moved to B.C. and Makai started teaching ballroom classes. But what started with Rick tagging along to classes simply to spend more time with Makai, has become a real passion for him, he said.
The couple is adamant that others can get just as much fun as they do out of life. The magic ingredient, they said, is to be open to going out to local musical events and getting up on the dance floor – no matter whether you have formal dance training.
Local musical events, they added, are very reasonably priced compared with the expense of travelling to, and parking in, downtown Vancouver.
“It’s just a matter of attitude. You don’t have to go far with your partner to enjoy each other,” Makai said. “It’s so easy to go out locally and have a blast.”
“We use social media to foster and encourage people to find out about local music,” Rick said. “We want to get people to enjoy life more – and support artists in the community. And it’s so much fun to do it.”
For more information on booking tickets for Relive The Music, visit relivethemusic.ca