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 My son Jack was born on a Thursday morning and I knew that my family was complete. But I didn’t know back then, the journey that this little bubba was about to take our entire clan on.

From his very early diagnosis of a significant hearing loss, I spent many nights awake worrying, which is a perfectly normal thing to do when faced with the fear of the unknown. We had his tiny little hearing aids fitted, and got on with the job of helping him reach his full potential, in wherever his passion lay. Turned out, that passion was dancing. So at the age of two and a half, I took him along to our local ballet school where he lined up along side a dozen little girls and took his place at the bar. And he has been dancing ever since.

My destiny? Dance Mum. Also, Rugby Mum. Rugby Mum made much more sense to me; it was a more natural fit. But I believe the best thing you can do, as a parent is to support your kids, so Dance Mum it is, along with Rugby.

I have a very close relationship with my Father in Law, Dr. Woog, down there on the right. He is very supportive of both boys and their sporting endeavors, and can be found on the side of the field, or in some auditorium, watching them play or perform. It was at one of these eisteddfods that he shared with me some of the Woog family history.

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You see, we had always wondered where Jack got his love of dance from. In our immediate family, my side loves a boogie, albeit not a very impressive one, whereas the Woogs are classified as non-dancers. Or so I thought.

It turns out that Jack’s Great, Great uncles were famous dancers in the 1930’s. So I dug a little deeper to find out the story of Roby and Harry Woog.

A conversation with Dr. Woog. (As captured by my iPhone)

Do you know when you see the movies in the thirties and the forties, and the elegant people go and there are these little tables… There is a dancer and a full band; well that’s how people went out. These swanky hotels, ballrooms full of little tables. It almost doesn’t exist anymore.

Roby and Harry were booked as dancers, along with Roby’s wife Kyra. The sort of dancing they did was like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and they were very, very good at it. They danced in the posh hotels outside of Hungary but still in Europe, mainly in the Far East.

They were headline acts.
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To all the world Roby looked like Fred Astaire. He was thin and pointy, with slicked back hair. Roby and Kyra went off as dancers first, just before the Second World War when things were starting to go badly. Roby asked Harry to come and join him, but basically Harry wasn’t a dancer. So Roby taught him how to dance.

Roby had a great deal of bravado, to the point of recklessness. One of his friends was the Hungarian High Diving champ, of the tower. The Hungarian Championships came up and his mate said, “Roby, you can do this!”

His friend came first, and Roby came second.

He was a natural with his movement, the same way Jack is a natural with his movement. He didn’t have to worry and practice it. He was just a natural.

When the war broke out, Roby and Harry were in India, dancing for British Indian casinos and hotels. They were interned there for four years. They were there with a conglomerate from the United Nations, and by the time they were set free, Roby and Harry spoke five languages fluently.

Roby was quite the character with a taste for the good life; funded by giant wins at the casinos he danced in. He spent some time living in Manila, where he was employed by the government to teach Imelda Marcos how to ballroom dance. After retiring from dancing, he became a commercial artist, which lead him, having moved to Australia, to become the Artistic Director at David Jones. He was self-taught.

I sat there listening away, fascinated. And then we stopped to watch Jack come out onto the stage, so confidant and poised, to begin his solo number.

I could not help but think about Roby, and how his legacy has been continued, albeit in this small way. Thin, with slicked back hair, Jack used every inch of that stage to express himself through dance. And my heart burst, just a little bit.

 

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