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So graceful: Members of the Remarkables Men's Ballet troupe, performing in this Sunday's council-organised Christmas Show, are performing in memory of former member Merv Aoake this year. Pictured, back, from left, are Matt Schneider and Mike Thurston; third row, from left, Craig 'Ferg' Ferguson, Paul Robertson and Bert Haines; second row, from left, Steve Kay, Sean Drader, Uan Spijkerbosch and Gary Clearwater; and Dave Mahoney (front). Absent are Chris Dagg and Nigel Kerr

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

It starts with a kiss.

By the end of it, the motliest-looking corps de ballet you’ll ever likely see should count themselves lucky not to have pulled a hammy, or worse.

The Remarkables Men’s Ballet troupe is back on stage again this year, in what’s regarded as one of the highlights of the annual Christmas Show, being held at the Queenstown Events Centre this Sunday.

This year, though, the men’s performance is special, dedicated to the memory of their good mate, Merv Aoake, who performed with them last year and died less than three months later, after being diagnosed with cancer in January.

Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson — one of the founding members of the troupe — says Merv was a ‘‘larger-than-life’’ character who was an important part of the ensemble, and brought a lot of humour with him.

‘‘This is a group that really only gets together once a year … and everyone felt that we needed to do something [for him].’’

The blokes will sport black armbands in Merv’s memory, while there may also be ‘‘something on the screen’’ during the show as well.

Merv’s wife, Maree, and children James and Ana will also be in the audience.

‘‘I did try and entice James to dance in his father’s place, but he didn’t snswer my phone call,’’ Ferguson says.

‘‘I believe he is not of the same ilk as his father because his father, given the chance, jumped at the opportunity — he’s the only one that I’ve approached over the years that said ‘yes’ on the spot.’’

Ferguson says the 2020 corps doesn’t contain any rookies — longest-surviving dancer/farmer Chris Dagg is back, having been unwrapped from ‘‘cotton wool’’, while Gary Clearwater is also out of ‘‘solitary confinement’’.

The council-organised show’s free this year, but donations will be accepted for Salvation Army at the door.

Tickets for the 1pm or 5pm shows are available at www.christmasshow.co.nz

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz