Review: Blaze - Peacock Theatre
Performance reviewed: 19 February
“Wow, nice shoes” say the kids next to me, eyes fixed on the stage. Adidas trainers pose on the edge, one pair with heels, one multi-coloured, one leopard print complete with tails, all as cool and diverse as the dancers who put them on and lace them up.
Blaze, back for another electric run following its 2010 debut and world tour, causes me to think that the National Grid should probably worry about power shortages during this stint at the Peacock Theatre. Heavily stylised and sometimes a bit too slick, Anthony van Laast’s production is still fun from start to finish. From the 16 strong cast to the video effects there is absolutely no outage of effort in this mainstream celebration of all things ‘hip hop’ and pop. Most of the original production crew return, along with the latest supremacy of street dance talent including the UK’s Ivan Blackstock, well-known for his involvement with UK-based Birdgang Dance Company (soon to be appearing in Breakin’ Convention).
Es Devlin’s curious set, allows dancers to step out of a fridge, leap from abandoned drawers and project out of TV screens all piled high as if on a scrapheap. Shrouded in ever changing light and psychedelic video imagery, it’s a dancer’s playground and an audience delight.
There is no storyline, just sketch after sketch (sometimes tenuously) linked to show off the cast’s myriad skills.
B-boys Sunni Brummit, Virgil ‘Sky Chief’ Dey and Jeffrey ‘Machine’ McCann arguably steal the show, flinging out power moves in patchwork trousers, on which beams of light focus impeccably as they spring and somersault airborne. Like quick flashes from a diamond encrusted kaleidoscope, it is this smart soldering of light, dance and costume that make their moves spark so brightly.
Similarly, Kendra Horsburgh (also with BirdGang) melds effortlessly with the moving video backdrop, guiding a blazing sun around the screen in her sassy solo. Reuben Verhoeven, IBE Champ, also strikes with his cheeky geeky locking style.
Special mention should go to newcomer Brummit (Red Bull BC World Championship Finalist and member of Soul Mavericks). Only 18 years old, he is on fire throughout. Head spins, back spins, windmills, all quickness and precision. One move – a sort of inverted, spinny, backflippy thing – had us gasping in awe.
They all get a bit of a rest to help teach us the ‘Atomic Food’ dance, a nonsensical but child-friendly interlude that sees the attendant dads dispense with their normal moves and start shuffling along to calls of ‘beef’, ‘celery’ and ‘BEANS’. The latter seeing virtually all of the audience bopping backwards, backside first (you see what they did there?)
The cast is so comprehensive that we sadly forget some until they are directly introduced to us at the end. It’s only then that Blackstock, all too briefly, gets to show why he’s one of the rising stars of the UK dance scene. Slick and original, it would have been nice to see more of his particular blend of styles.
Hip-hop purists may think Blaze shallow, but ultimately this popular showcase of talent encourages people of all ages to get up and dance. Seeing parents, kids, and everyone else in between ‘jump around’ to House of Pain’s famous tune is something to get excited about in my book.
As one big live interactive MTV music video party, the beauty of Blaze is that it is dance for the audience’s sake. Pull on your trainers, get down to the Peacock and be part of it.
Blaze continues at the Peacock Theatre until 8 March
Photo: Jomecia Oosterwolde & Michel Patric Sian – by Roy Beusker
Lara Hayward is a freelance dance, sport and travel writer, who recently took part in Resolution! Review at The Place. Read more from her at www.auspiciouspixie.com
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