Renako Mcdonald: Bringing feeling to the final

Photo: Tom Middleton

Catford local, Renako Mcdonald, has made it to the finals of the Sky One show ‘Got to Dance’ as half of the dance duo ‘Alleviate’.

“We’re bringing a new way of dancing to the competition”” he says proudly during a rehearsal with his dance partner Nicolette Whitely.

Renako, who started dancing when he was nine, grew up in Catford and attended Blackheath High School where he came across some of the classic misconceptions projected onto male dancers.

“I had the mickey taken out of me sometimes, it’s not really the thing most lads do, but I love it. At the end of the day I’m getting paid to have loads of fun and this competition could lead to a whole range of opportunities,” says Renako.

He is bursting with energy and enthusiasm – rushing around the studio, always thinking of his routine and what is coming next. He explains how he choreographs his and Nicolette’s moves.

“I usually do most of the choreography, I’ll listen to a bit of the music and then work something out. Then I can tell Niki what I want her to do and we’ll discuss it and try it out until we find something we are both happy with”.

Renako attended Liverpool’s Institute for Performing Arts, where he was winner of the choreography competition for two consecutive years. It was here that he met his dance partner Nicolette, 22, from Penyffordd North Wales.

“Me and Niki have been dancing together for two years we never argue,” he says. “But sometimes when I drop her she’s not too happy with me, but it doesn’t last long!”

The pair describe their dancing as “a fusion of loads of different styles”. Renako explains, “we have a bit of street, a bit of ballet. We’re just different I think that’s why the judges like us.”

Despite his high profile locally it is obvious that Renako isn’t letting fame go to his head – though he does enjoying getting noticed. “I’m definitely not a celebrity but it’s all fun and I have been recognised a few times. The other day I was going down the escalators in town and someone shouted ‘I know you!’ and I was like ‘Hey!” he says with a grin.

But it is not all fun and games, Renako is very aware of the opportunities ‘Got to Dance’ can bring him. “I really want to get my foot in the door and be recognised for what I am capable of. If we win I would love to go to America the standard there is ridiculous… in a good way.”

Leaving their dance studio at Renako’s old college, City and Islington on Camden road, the pair shouts “Vote Alleviate!” before going back to their rehearsals which will apparently last all night.

The X-factor style competition, where the most talented dance groups and individuals around fight it out to be crowned dancing champion, is on every Sunday at 6pm on Sky1 and Sky 1 HD.

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