Posts Tagged ‘peacock theater’

Review – Rock the Ballet – Bad Boys of Dance at the Peacock Theater

June 13, 2014

I’m a ballet fan, as you know, but I’m also a fan of exciting dance nights that aren’t driven by pointe shoes and violins. And, I’ll admit, I also get a thrill out of going to watch people perform who are, well, yummy. And the idea of watching “Bad Boys of Dance” whip their shirts off and “rock the ballet” sounded very appealing to me. For once, I had no difficulties getting someone to come with me: seeing gorgeous men flinging themselves around on a stage to rock and roll was a very easy sell!

It was great to see people moving to music I enjoy – “Tainted Love,” “My Sharona,” “Sexy and I Know It” – and the audience was really into it (occasionally singing along). A lot of the dancing was forward facing group moves, like 90s music videos, with the various men occasional taking a moment to show off with spins, leaps, or even backflips. (Oddly there was no actual street dancing – a bit of a gap, I think.) The mix was spiced with the addition of a blonde female dancer (Adrienne Canterna) who seemed to me to be one of those hypermobile types, capable of bending in half backwards as well as, er, undoing her arm from its socket (or that’s what it looked like). Canterna did a lot of duets with lead male dancer James Boyd, which, thankfully, managed to stay on the right side of good taste – you saw her as the fun, athletic, smiling girlfriend that everyone could relate to. She pulled off leaps and spins that challenged the men mightily – I actually wanted to see her in toe shoes, just to see if she could keep the speed up. Amongst the men, I found myself keeping an eye on Jace Zeimants, who, while less heavily muscled than the other guys, seemed to feel the music more.

Rock the Ballet

The BAD BOYS OF DANCE in ROCK THE BALLET
Photo Credit: Irina Chira

If I had my druthers, I would have liked to have had some more slow bits, rather than such a generally even rock beat. The dancers just could have done more if there’d been more headspace to not be rushing around all of the time. And I felt the show was done a bit on the cheap – costumes appropriated from the Gap, cut-rate background projections and no set – but the rock music and lively dancing kept the evening rolling along. The second half, in which there were costumes that were much more “phoar” and much less “casual day at the office” was bushels of fun – with Jailhouse Rock giving all the men a chance to show off and “Shot Me Down” (a remix of Sonny Bono’s “Bang Bang”) being my favorite bits. All of this on a sunny summer day, white white galore and walking out to “Sexy and I Know It” – I haven’t had this much fun since the Buttrock Suites way back in the Seattle days. Nice job, Bad Boys!

(This review is for a performance that took place on Thursday, June 12, 2014. It continues through June 28th.)

Review – Some Like It Hip Hop – Zoonation at the Peacock Theater

October 25, 2011

Into the Hoods was the first full-length street dance evening I attended, and while I found it rough around the edges, it got me excited about the style … and the company. This meant that the company’s new show, Some Like it Hip Hop, had made it to the place of honor in my mental space as I put their flier on my cubicle’s tiny display space. Mental note: AWESOME SHOW COMING.

So … here’s what I expected going in. Despite the fact that the title is from the movie Some Like it Hot, I was thinking not at all about a plot involving gangsters, all-girl Jazz bands, and cross-dressing musicians; instead, I’d got my mind fixated on Shakespearean influences for this show, with As You Like It and Measure for Measure being zipped up and rejigged with the ever popular mistaken identities, twins, and a whole new element of kick-ass dance to tie it all together (per Time Out‘s interview Twelfth Night was an influence). And, well, the production shot made me think it was all taking place in a high school.

But what I didn’t expect was a story about dystopian police state in which all books are banned and women are completely cut out of civil society – not even allowed to speak in the menial jobs they are given! The framing is a blend of science fiction and fairy tale, as a mad governor (Duwane Taylor, rather like Leontes from A Winter’s Tale) has taken the sun from they sky, forcing his subjects to live in darkness. While I was imagining the frozen future of Charles Stross’ “Palimpsest,” the death of all plant life wasn’t as important as the fact that this world was now split into those on the inside of the city (who support the king and follow his rules) and those on the outside (who have their own society but live in poverty and desperation, not to mention cold). Life is so regimented that it seems no fun for the men or the women – the men are reduced to bullies who pick on the women but live in the knowledge that one screw up on the job and they’ll be on the outside with just the coats on their backs.

This regimented life is expressed well in movement: the men shuffle into an office with their personality stripped away, but suddenly break into dance (with shouts and hollering from the audience), showing us their interior life, as they clock in for the day; and, though they move in unison as they type up their reports (and the women feed their typewriters paper), they throw in little flourishes that express the fact that they are still individuals despite the Governor trying to strip away their ability to think for themselves.

But then we get to the situation of the women. Somehow, watching them stripped of dignity, existing only to “assist” the men, reduced and humliated by the simple chance of the gender they were born being defined as “inferior” (though even at the beginning we can see that one of the guys – “Sudsy Partridge” – isn’t as good as Miss Jo-Jo Jameson) – I couldn’t help but think of all of the uprisings going on in the Middle East this year. All of these people with so much potential being held back by folks only concerned with keeping themself in power – a revolution was going to have to happen. And when Jo-Jo (Lizzie Gough) and Kerri Kimbalayo (Teneisha Bonner) decided to bust back into the city (after being thrown out for getting uppity) and take the men on at their own game, you can’t help but cheer, especially when to “win the right” they have to show they can perform as well as the men. And they do, in a sizzling dance-off that saw other guys (including Sudsy) fail as the chicks showed they could totally hold their own for speed and moves – as long as they had on a suit (and hysterical fake mustaches). Now admittedly we had some plot happening here, but MAN was the dancing snazzy and fast, and how could you not see the point made that women can hold their own not just on a frozen planet but in the real world and in the arena of street dancing!

Then another plot point was spun in … The Governor has a daughter, Oprah Okeke (Natasha Gooden) who wants to reunite with her dad! First she’s on the outside of the city, then, somehow, she sneaks in an open door and gets a job at the factory, but she is not doing a good job at conforming – especially knowing that the misery her father has put on everyone else is something that’s wrong, but that fixing him is what has to be done to change it. So we have revolution bursting out at many levels, from the women, from the family, and finally from the men of the city, who are not as happy living in their same sex dorms and playing poker as The Governer might wish they were! Finally the whole thing breaks out in all out war as the various forces come together and have to fight it out in a big dance scene. You think this is going to be cheesy and over-stylized, but it actually had me on the edge of my seat – it was like watching X Wing fighters diving into the Death Star! The audience was going wild and I was cheering along with them – to see a corrupt system overthrown, to see the women get the respect they deserved, to see the various lovers finally allowed to reunite – there was a lot riding on this battle and we wanted a happy resolution. Unsurprisingly, we got it, and at the end we even got the sun hung back in the sky.

Overall Some Like It Hip Hop was a big level up for Zoonation, with not just a compelling story and characters, but great design work and … it has to be said … the fantastic addition of a bunch of original music sung by real belters. No more projected sets and sampled music, this was the full meal deal, a night of story told through acting, singing, and dance. I was astounded at what a change had happened. Congratulations to Kate Prince and crew, you’ve made a show to be remembered – and one I think I need to go back and see again.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, October 24th, 2011. It continues at the Peacock Theater through November 19th. Awesome dance moment: during the final fight, a guy dances like he’s going to tear the house down all by himself, and in response, the woman he’s showing off to takes her right leg and, while standing on the left, tucks her foot behind her ear. Dodge THAT.)

Metro discount – 50% off Bale de Rua Brazilian dance troupe

October 19, 2010

Today’s Metro has a great deal: 50% off top price seats (normally £35 and £40) for Bale de Rua, a Brazilian dance troupe, at the Peacock Theater. The discount is only good through November 10th & not valid on Saturdays, but this gives you a good slice of their run (they’ll be performing until November 20th) to see at a bargain price.

To get this offer, either use promo code “pcdcelebrate” when booking online, or call 0844 412 4322 and quote “celebrate the city offer.” I don’t know anything about the performance other than what they say about it online but but samba, favela and Brazilian music sound like a winning combo to me.

Great deal – half price tickets for 7 Doigts “Psy” show at Peacock Theater – first week

April 20, 2010

We’re doing great for offers with the Metro in the last week – today brings another 50% off deal for Les Sept Doigts de la Main’s “Psy” show at the Peacock Theater. I saw their “Traces” show last year and enjoyed it a lot, so if the volcano grounds me, I’ll be sure to cash in on this deal.

Details of the deal: it’s only good for shows from April 28th through May 5th EXCLUDING SATURDAY EVENING, for half off £36 or £28 seats. (£10 balcony tickets can be found on LastMinute.com if you’re interested.) Either call the Peacock theater (0844 412 4322) and quote the “Celebrate the City” offer, or go to the Sadler’s Wells website and use the code “pcdcelebrate” when prompted. Enjoy!

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.)

Deal of the Day: Metro 2 for 1 tickets to 1st week of Blaze streetdance, Peacock Theatre

March 1, 2010

Well! My daily Metro reading has paid off with an offer for half priced tickets to the first week of Blaze, the street dance performance that’s happening at the Peacock Theater from March 11th through 28th. Now, the tickets are only good for the first week, March 11-18th, but you wanna get in the door first, right? I’ve found street dance some of the most exciting dance performance taking place in London these days, and I’ve been hoping for a good deal for this show for a while, so I bought my tickets before I posted this!

Here’s the deal: go to Sadler’s Wells website, pick a date from March 11th through 18th, and enter “pcdcelebrate” into the white box (numbered 2) where it says “Promotional code.” Then pick two of either of the top two priced seats (£36 or £28, they’re clearly labelled in the UI), and off you go – when you check out, your total will be half the price you would have paid (plus a wee booking fee). If you’re not internet savvy, calling Sadler’s Wells at 0844 412 4322 and asking for the “Celebrate the City offer” will yield the same deal, only you’ll pay a higher booking fee.

Review – Cirkus Cirkor – Sadler’s Wells at the Peacock Theater

October 21, 2009

If you’re looking for a condensed and spoiler-free review, here’s the short version; I had a good time at this inventive, skillful show and would consider it an evening well-spent at say £20 a ticket. Your price point may vary from mine. Continuing on:

LastMinute.com is the doom of me. I go there to randomly cruise their £10 theater offerings and wind up finding shows I’ve never heard about and suddenly notice I’ve blown my budget. In this case, I saw a plug for Cirkus Cirkor and the picture looked good (“Hey, circus!”) then the next thing you know I’d convinced three other people to go and I was buying a membership at Sadler’s Wells to get a discount on my tickets and, well, it did all wind up costing me more than the £20 I was originally planning on shelling out for two tickets, but not that much if you exclude the price of Sadler’s Wells’ membership. Ah well, all in support of an organization I really like, really.

That said, we had a lot of fun last night in our stalls row U seats at the Peacock Theater (a little of the top of the stage was blocked by the balcony but no action took place there so no great loss). As per the last two shows I’ve seen there (including Les Sept Doigts de la Main, another circus troupe), the concept is having a show built around a story that lets the performances shine. I liked Cirkus Cirkor’s throughline – a woman plucked from normality is exposed to strange creatures and situations and winds up having to push herself to realize her dreams. Of course, what it really was was a series of circus acts of the human variety – balancing acts, acrobats, jugglers, aerialists – but with an interesting way of transitioning between acts. It also had very different “characters” from what might think of as circus “types” – an all white clown, two straight people, “the world’s strongest woman and her daughter,” a juggler, and a bizarre hairy-legged troll in a tutu (who pranced around en pointe and was generally weird). Rather than just giving up on tradition altogether, I felt this set-up allowed the group to better maintain their theme, while bending tradition, in a way that better framed their story and made it more believable.

But of course one does not go to the circus to see a play, one goes to be entertained and wowed. My “wow” moments were the athletic and gorgeous trapeze duet with the two women, which showed flexibility, agility, strength (from both of them!) and, most importantly to me, inventiveness in the use of a very tired vernacular.

I also oohed and awed and gasped at the juggler, who performed a thrilling routine (with balls and hoops and pins and two helpers throwing him things in addition to doing headstands and stuff) that utterly focused my attention. It helped that it was done to a solo drum accompaniment that really heightened the tension. In fact, I should offer kudos to the band, whose thoughtful songs helped turn many of the pieces from acts into moments. Circus Contraption may have had crazier songs but Irya’s Playground were far more than accompaniment – not just backing but providing an extra show alongside the main attraction. Really, the evening was better than any circus style show I’ve seen since moving to London (even if, per per my former Cirque friend who sat beside me, the balancing act was wholly derivative of Cirque de Soleil’s “Allegria” – I wouldn’t have known or noticed) and I’m glad I went – as was, I’d assume, the loudly cheering audience. What a change from the limp applause of a normal night at the theater! My guess is that this will be a very successful run, especially given how poor seat availability was for the first week. Get your seats now if you’re interested lest you miss out.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009. Circus Cirkor continues through October 31st, 2009.)

Review – Insane in the Brain – Bounce at the Peacock Theatre

September 30, 2009

When I first heard of Bounce’s “Insane in the Brain,” billed as “a hip-hop adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“, I wasn’t particularly interested. Hip-hop isn’t my thing, and Peacock programming usually isn’t my style. But then Clement Crisp waxed rhapsodic and suddenly I was seeing things in a different light. What is there about the thought about this wizened, snooty, ballet fan going wild about hip hop that made me think that this was now a show I couldn’t miss? The idea of him “getting down” kind of cracks me up, but he showed raw enthusiasm (or as raw as it gets when processed through his typewriter) and I was sold. So last night off J and I went for a night of staged street dancing.

It was pretty impressive to walk into a theater full mostly of 17 and 18 year olds who were there to see dance and cheered when the lights went down. Clearly, this piece had some idea of who its audience was meant to be! The underlying story of OWFOtCN is of a man (McMurphy) who gets himself committed to an asylum so he can avoid going to jail. He spends his time cheering up (and probably helping) the inmates, while trying to avoid the clutches of the sadistic guards and the truly evil Nurse Ratchett. While he makes fun of them, he finds out that they actually wield far more power than he ever expected, and in the end finds himself trapped in a place he went to as a joke. Not a happy ending, alas! It wasn’t really something I imagined would do well as a dance piece, but, in fact, it did, and it managed to do so with a minimum of dialogue (just a bit in the first scene).

Dancewise, after the original “introduce the characters, who are having group therapy” scene, the scenes go something like this: dance class; guards abuse the patients after hours; an uneasy night’s sleep; dance class again; outside time (with speaker); Nurse Ratchett shows her power; the breakout (in which the inmates go watch a movie) and capture; electroshock time; planning the final escape; In Which The Virgin Man Is Teased With A Blowup Doll; fight between the guards; break IN and sex scene; McMurphy is finally broken and The End. All this was done to a score that included piles of songs I’d never heard of before (but enjoyed) but also songs I did recognize, like “Express Yourself” and the wordless song from the Matrix, as well as some totally bizarre Astor Piazolla. The scene where they started playing “Maniac” and all of the characters suddenly appeared on stage in 80s dance clothes was hysterical and even managed to duplicate the infamous “shower” scene from Flashdance – and the audience ate it up.

I was enjoying myself, too. I loved the introductory “dancing with our backs to the audience but with mask on our face” piece (low tech yet so clever and effective); the “we’ve lost all control” movement of the three dancers suspended from the ceiling after the electroshock session; the hysterical Bunraku-style inflatable sex doll scene; and Shy Guy’s floating choreography as he starts to feel more confident in himself.

Oddly, though, my very favorite bit was the silent movie, which had three ragamuffin/tramp types break into the house of some upper class Victorians who are sitting down to dinner, complete with servants. When the intruders are detected, a street dance showdown between the two sides takes place that had me dying to see Oliver redone in this style. It was especially fuunny because of the incongruity of a proper Victorian lady shaking her booty and throwing gang attitude to the other crewe. The audience was laughing their heads off … just like me.

So Mr.Crisp was on the money and I’m grateful to him for the tip. This couldn’t have been more different than my stiff night at the Rojo/Brandenberg show, and I was glad for it.

(This review is for a performance that took place September 29th, 2009. Bounce continues at the Peacock through October 3rd – details on the Sadlers Wells website.)

Great deal on Les 7 Doigts de la Main (French-Canadian circus) “Traces” show at the Peacock Theatre – Metro reader deal

January 28, 2009

The Metro had an offer for the French-Canadian circus troop Les Sept Doigts de la Main’s show “Traces” in the paper today. The deal is for half off the top two ticket prices (£36 and £28, so already a good deal) and is good for 3-19 of February, not including Saturdays (so not quite on Valentine’s day, alas). To get the deal, either call 0844 412 4322 and quote the “Metro Offer,” or buy on the Sadler’s Wells website and use the promo code pcdmetro when prompted.

For more information on the show, please go to Sadler’s Wells site, which includes a video. I unfortunately can’t take advantage of this deal as I’m already booked for March 3rd but it should be a great evening.

Also, saw “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” last night at the Trafalgar Studios, which was fantastic. More details to come.