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Review: Dance: Bad Boys? More like classy Chippendales: Rock the Ballet Peacock, London 2/5

June 14, 2014

Judith Mackrell



Any show performed by men who style themselves the Bad Boys of Dance would, you would imagine, have attitude and technique bouncing off the walls. Yet during the first half of Rock the Ballet, the six male dancers display only intermittent evidence of either.

Director Rasta Thomas, whose own career as a classical dancer included stints with the Kirov and Dance Theatre of Harlem, says he created this show in order to take ballet into the 21st century, and inject it with the raw energy of street dance and jazz. Twyla Tharp, in fact, was successfully rocking the art form decades ago in works like Deuce Coup. Yet if Thomas's show turns out to be much lamer than its title, it's not because it's been pre-empted by history, but because it has so little style.

Choreographer Adrienne Canterna, who also stars as the evening's only female dancer, creates her material with a relentlessly basic pick-and-mix approach to steps. Signature moves from different genres - a jazzy battement, a B-boy spin, a disco wiggle - are bolted together without rhythmic wit or invention. The same material is recycled into routines that vary only marginally in response to their music, or to the emerging boy-meets girl narrative. This links Canterna and partner James Boyd in some intense eye-locking and violently bendy duets, and reduces the other men to the sidelines: less badass than bemused chorus boys.

When the cast return for the second half, however, there's a definite shift in gear. Canterna's choreographic input is less intrusive as the six men show off their most vaulting jumps and backflips, their most impressively slick pirouettes. It's exactly the shameless display the audience have paid to see, especially when it's served up with golden songs like Jailhouse Rock or Tainted Love. When the bad boys finally strip off their tops and parade their perfect six packs, Rock the Ballet zeros in on its exact USP. Chippendales with a touch of classical class.

Until 28 June. Box office: 0844 412 4322.

Captions:

Lamer than the title would suggest . . . Rock the Ballet Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian



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Source: Guardian (UK)


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