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Review: Blaze - The Streetdance Sensation at the Peacock Theatre

Tuesday 16 March 2010

For a show that promotes itself as the street dance sensation, you want to know how sensational it is, right? Does it blaze, or just give off a few embers?

Words: David Barros

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Blaze the Streetdance SensationReaders, fans of street dance and newcomers to dance will be relieved to know that Blaze does indeed live up to its hype. With its big budget production team behind it (and a wardrobe to match), why wouldn't it?

 

As some readers may know already, Blaze isn't based on an original play it or poem like other shows TooMuchFlavour has reviewed, it's simply about the dancing.

 

Featuring some of the world's most talented dancers in its cast, and top choreographers behind them, all of the dancing is authentic, energetic and incredibly well executed, giving enough variety to satisfy most of its viewers (although regardless of what the programme said, there were no boogaloo routines).

 

Because there's no story to Blaze, some may feel isolated from the show because there are no character stories to follow. Some parts of the show remain inexplicable in their motives, like the breakers running on stage in their Y-fronts.

 

While lacking a story the projection effects were sensational at extending the effect of the routines. Although the back wall of the theatre was an odd construction made up of what appeared to be stacks of drawers when lit fully, come time for those projections and the wall burst to life with action.

 

Memo Akten and Robin McNicholas did an amazing job at putting it to use. One of its best uses was a solo from Lizzie Gough controlling a projected ball of light with her choreography making it a visual treat to watch.

 

Choreography was spot on, on point and on beat, even when the music was mixed to double up drum beats. Danilo DJ Walde certainly outdid himself since mixing the soundtrack for Into The Hoods and it’s evident the scope of the soundtrack was made to compliment every part of the dancing, sticking to a mainly mainstream selection of songs, although not afraid to use a few lesser known cuts, and even dabbling in dubstep.

 

The breaking was of an especially high standard: B-Boy Machine and Neguin appear to be at the very top of their game at the moment, both executing incredibly smooth footwork into sharp freezes.

 

The guest choreographers also did a great job. Tommy Franzén returned in his trademark locking costume for a solo, while one of the most original tutting routines choreographed by Mike Song made an appearance in one scene:

 

Original Mike Song Wii tutting choreography

 

A tapdance routine made it in to the show, although when it came to the new jack swing and vogue sections (it should have been a waacking section!) the dancers looked uncomfortable dancing a style that wasn’t their main discipline, and was one of the points where it felt like they had to be included just for good measure to complement the variety of costume and dance styles.

 

To my great relief there was no smashing glass sound effects used, one of the biggest clichés of street dance, and an absolute no-no for any show trying to appeal to a dance audience as well as the mainstream. Nor were songs roughly chopped just to move on to the next routine - another pet hate of mine.

 

I lost all sense of time watching Blaze. This is of course a good thing, although given the disconnected and unrelated scenes, part of me felt that after the hour or so was up it should have been longer.

 

One way would have been allowing particular dancers play to their personal strengths: the choreographic mastery of Ukeweli Roach (Quails) would have been a welcome addition to the guest choreography to give the show an injection of UK flavour in Blaze’s evident LA style.

 

Blaze was a brilliant show, visually stunning (if not abstract), its faults are minor and only there if you look for them.

 

Have you watched the Blaze video podcasts yet? >>

Blog: Blaze The Streetdance Sensation Press Night

Blog: Does Blaze signal streetdance acceptance in theatres?

Blaze cast list:

Streetdancers:

Marion Gallet

Tommy Franzén

Lizzie Gough (So You Think You Can Dance finalist)

Rowen Hawkins

Maleka Tenyue aka “Caramel”

Stephanie Nguyen aka “Lil’ Steph”

Jomecia Oosterwolde

Ukweli Roach aka “Quails” (Birdgang)

Ross Sands

MC Carl Gilkey aka “DJ Hazze” (Mighty Zulu Kings)

 

Breakers:

Fabiano Carvalho Lopes aka “Neguin” (Red Bull BC One 2009 semi-finalist)

Ereson Catipon aka “Mouse” (UK B-Boy Championships)

Jeffery McCann aka “Machine”

 

Creative:

Choreographer: Ryan Chappell, Chris Baldock

Guest Choreographer Kenny Wormald, Lyle Beniga, Mike Song

Director: Anthony van Laast

Set Design: Es Devlin

Artistic Director: Chris Baldock

Associate Director: Ryan Chappell

Associate Set Designer: Bronia Housman

Lighting Design: Patrick Woodroffe

Associate Lighting: Designer Adam Bassett

Musical Director: Danilo DJ Walde

Music Producer: DJ Lunice

Video Design: Memo Akten & Robin McNicholas for MSA Visuals

Stylist: Ryan Chappell

Assistant Stylist: Diane Chappell

Assistant Costume Maker: Julia Boikova

 

Related articles:

Review: Zoonation - Into the Hoods at the Southbank Centre

Review: Bounce Insane In The Brain at the Peacock Theatre

 

Related links:

Blaze The Show official site

Memo.tv

PANdADDY

Sadler’s Wells

 

Buy tickets for Blaze

Buy tickets for Blaze