#11: Cafe, Paul Mercurio (1989)


18 April 2019

Paul Mercurio joined Sydney Dance Company in 1982 and was with the company for ten years before his career hit stratospheric heights with his star turn in Strictly Ballroom. He reflects on the 1989 work Café, which he created with Kim Walker.

Lea Francis, Kim Walker and Paul Mercurio set the mood for Cafe. Photo Branco Gaica

“When I first moved to Sydney, there was a café called Reggio’s in Darlinghurst that was my home away from home. It was down and out, a place where prostitutes, drug addicts, some highfalutin people and lost souls converged. And I loved it: I mean, I spent Christmas Eve and New Year’s morning there. Sometimes Kim Walker and I would go surfing and stop there for breakfast before we went to work at Sydney Dance Company. So when we were asked to do a collaboration we thought, why don’t we make it about Reggio’s? And that’s how that happened. Funnily enough, the general manager at the time was up in arms saying, ‘You can’t call a ballet about a café Café.’ She wanted to call it Cappuccino or something like that. But we stuck to our guns.”

Poster for Cafe, featuring Lea Francis, Kim Walker and Paul Mercurio. Photo by Branco Gaica


Nina Veretennikova as the Prostitute. Photo by Branco Gaica

Carl Plaisted as the Pinball Kid. Photo Steven Dupont

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