Archive for March 19th, 2010

Review – Blaze – Peacock Theatre

March 19, 2010

Blaze, unlike many of the street dance performances I’ve seen in the last year, didn’t really bother with a narrative to tie its action together; instead it was dance, dance, dance all of the way through. There was a group of about 10 dancers, male and female, that did a lot of the crowd performances, and then a trio of men I imagined as the core of the group who did lots of fancy solo work. Mostly the group did a lot of combo group moves and solos, with a bit of “women versus men” as well as some “guys admire girl/girls admire guys.” There was, as usual, little couple dancing, though at one point there was a duet performed on a couch that I thought was good – reminicent of the recent (ballet) but actually more connected.

Among the women, my favorites were a woman with short black hair I imagined being from Eastern Europe (Lizzie), who moved like butter and had one of the most amazing solos ever, in the center of the backdrop, the universe spinning away from her (via animated projections) while she just got her groove on. It made me want to dance, I tell you. There was aslo a very thin (but of course muscular) black girl who swirled and snapped like she was made all of ball bearings; I couldn’t help but think of Spinderella in Into the Hoods. There was also much ot be said for a handsome white guy with a cleft chin who was utterly, utterly ripped and could hold himself off the floor with his hands with the greatest of ease.

Even more impressive were the trio of guys, two black and one who back home I would have imagined as “Hispanic” but really, who knows? (They announced where he was from at the end of the show but everyone was clapping and shouting too loudly for me to hear it). The best of the three was Nadeem, who had incredibly powerful and tight moves – holding himself on one arm, flipping sideways, I can’t even describe how he moved very well because so much of it seemed to be denying the laws of physics and physiology. Once I figured out how good he was, I kept my eyes on him whenever he was on stage.

Then, late in the day, a big African-American guy showed up (Kane, I think, from America). He actually shuddered and shook so tightly as he walked that it looked like I was watching one of of those old silent movies, or that I just wasn’t able to see him right. He came back for several featured dances, my favorite being “Atomic Vegetables,” in which he did a dance for all kinds of food – not just mashed potato and chicken, but broccoli, beans, celery, and ham.The rest of the group was dancing with him and having a great time, and I wanted to jump out of my seat and dance along.

Overall, I thought this show could have benefited from more of a through-line instead of just being a bunch of random bits – guy walks out of a fridge, girls listen to music on headphones and dance together, guy and girl tap dance on suitcases (though I was excited about the tap dancing) – and the final bit, with three “contestants” in a “reality dance show” wasn’t too good – but the dancing seemed pretty good overall, and the crowd was roaring as always. And the whole thing was done by about 9:10, actually getting me home in time to not be exhausted the next day – perfect for a weeknight! I look forward to seeing what this group comes up with as they mature more.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010. Blaze continues at The Peacock Theater through March 28th, 2010. Please also see Clement Crisp’s far more coherent review in The Financial Times.)