Readers, 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.