Tag Archives: dance

Beats on Pointe (Peacock Theatre)

You may recall my interview with Jennifer Masters, creator of this show and co-founder of Masters of Choreography, the Australian company behind Beats on Pointe.

Georgia-Mae Rutland and Brodie Chesher in Beats on Pointe

Georgia-Mae Rutland and Brodie Chesher in Beats on Pointe

Now it is time to enjoy the full show, a fusion of ballet, street dance and hip hop, with thirteen talented and versatile dancers. As someone who enjoys all forms of dance, I can appreciate traditional work en pointe just as much as breakdancing and movement to the accompaniment of beatboxing.

This show does take a bit of time to lower the lights and get going, with a dance contest opener which reminded me of the gym hall sequence in West Side Story, as two opposing factions circle each other in competition.

Phillip Egan in Beats on Pointe

Phillip Egan in Beats on Pointe

Soon, though, ballerinas become street dancers, acrobats pirouette, and everything loosens up into a joyous celebration of music (whether Chaka Khan, the Jackson 5, Wham, Eminem, Bruno Mars or other pulsating tracks which melt into each other) and movement.

All the cast are energetic, gifted and dedicated dancers, from Danny Williams’s exuberant tumbling to the grace of Rebecca Selkirk, from the impish posturing of Brodie Chesher to the wiry athleticism of Taylor Diamond-Lord. Musicianship and rhythm is on display, too.

The company of Beats on Pointe

The company of Beats on Pointe

You’ll see lit-up costumes (so many changes of costumes, I lost count), inventive use of props, flashes of humour, head spins, torches, moments of beauty where the limits of what the human body can do is on display, and a fantastic soundtrack.

I spent the entire evening with a smile on my face, in the company of a show which sets out to entertain and does it beautifully, encouraging its audience to clap, shout, scream and engage.

The show continues at the Peacock Theatre until the 16 June, then tours. Photo credits Heidi Victoria.


Lest We Forget (Barbican Centre)

This four-part dance show in remembrance of the First World War is a bit of a mixed bag, with some excellent moments (notably in the first sequence, ‘No Man’s Land’, choreographed by Luke Scarlett, where the women wrap their arms round the men’s shoulders in mimicry of the straps of kit-bags, and where the yellow hands of the women workers flash around the ghosts of their men-folk following battle in the trenches; and in the last sequence, ‘Dust’, choreographed by Akram Khan, which uses snatches of the recording of Cpl Edward Dwyer from 1916 singing to the tune of Auld Lang Syne to accompany a powerful duet between soldier and nurse, poignant even more so when you realise Dwyer was only twenty years old when he died in combat shortly after making the recording), and some mis-steps – Russell Maliphant’s ‘Second Breath’ uses a distortion of Richard Burton’s reading of the Dylan Thomas poem ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ which simply jars and distracts from the formation of bodies within the routine; George Williamson’s ‘The Firebird’ is beautiful and engaging, but does not belong here, within this theatre of war.

Tamara Rojo, artistic director of the English National Ballet, dances a major role in ‘No Man’s Land’, and she has the style and authority of the great classical tradition to work with – making her character very touching and memorable.  Scarlett’s choreography is by turns gentle and aggressive, and his male duets work well to depict the scale of the conflict.  In ‘The Firebird’, the dancing is centred by the damaged bird and the men who conspire to remove her finery.  ‘Second Breath’ is an ensemble piece, well punctuated by recordings from the audio archives, snatches of which set the scene – “constant bombardment”, for example.  ‘Dust’, however, is a stunning and powerful piece of work which stands well on its own, and has the most to say in tribute to those who lost their lives in the Great War; it also states a truth that women in munitions were building material that would kill other women’s husbands, fathers, sons, and the disconnect between this role and the one genetically expected of women, to care and nurture other people.

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