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Kahlia Greksa’s: The Great Gatsby’s Dance Great

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a snapshot into the mindset of early twentieth century America. The screenplay by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce for the Warner Bros. feature film adaptation of this story is in all parts equal to the lavish and epic tone of the book. Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s presentation of the flawed Jay Gatsby is ideal in grounding the film’s depiction of the excess that preceded the Great Depression. The film earned 14.4 million on its opening night in North America and 206,200,000 worldwide. At the 86th Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design, winning both in addition to BAFTAs and numerous other awards globally. Director Baz Luhrmann personally cast Kahlia Greksa as the lead dancer in the film, repeating their work together on the Oscar-winning film Moulin Rouge. Greksa’s dancing is featured prominently in the party scenes which are a highlight of the film’s tone.

With so many huge names attached to this film, it wasn’t easy to become included in the cast. Greksa literally beat out thousands of Australia’s best dancers over the course of the month long auditions. When Baz Lurhmann himself witnessed Kahlia and her twin in the dance rehearsal, he personally wrote an additional trio of three-minute dance scenes to be added into the film based around them. Recast as “the Twins”, the duo immediately began rehearsals on these featured numbers with Lurhmann and choreographer “Cha Cha” John O’Connell who also choreographed the feature film Moulin Rouge. The Twins are key characters mentioned at all of Jay Gatsby’s extravagant parties in Fitzgerald’s book; Lurhmann meant to make good use of this discovery for the film.

Whether in the middle of a throng of party goers, atop a piano, or dancing next to Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan at the “Sad and Tawdry” Party, Kahlia possesses that special dynamic magnetism which compels the audience to watch her. Equal parts exceptional talent and star quality, there’s no short path to what she’s achieved. Kahlia describes, “My work in the film was equal parts long rehearsal and long filming. We wanted to make the 1920’s dance style completely authentic to that era. When it came to the shoot, each three-minute dance scene was one long shot. We would be filming up to 5-6 days a week sometimes, repeating the same three minutes of rigorous choreography for ten-plus hour days, dancing in heels with costumes that had head pieces which weighed 3 kilos alone!”

From the “Happy” party when Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carraway is first introduced to Gatsby’s world to the aforementioned “Sad and Tawdry” Party and the Baby Doll Scene that Baz Luhrmann decided to add in at the last minute; Kahlia is present at some of the most crucial plot points of The Great Gatsby. Dance rehearsals with DiCaprio, Mulligan, and other famed cast members while adorned with designs of Oscar winning costume/set designer Catherine Martin is definitely an indicator that one’s career has entered a new phase. Greksa adamantly confirms, “When I was nine-years old I was a dancer in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and I remember being on set and thinking to myself that I would love to do another movie with Baz. To do it again on The Great Gatsby and have the opportunity to work with him so closely on such a special role was above and beyond memorable for me. Plus, I remember looking at Call Sheets and seeing my name right alongside Leonardo DiCaprio’s and thinking that this was a bit surreal.”

Written by Patrick Wilson
Kahlia Greksa’s: The Great Gatsby’s Dance Great Reviewed by JaamZIN on 7:02:00 AM Rating: 5
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