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Blaze

1/5
© Roy Beusker
2/5
© Daniel Boud
3/5
© Roy Beusker
4/5
© Roy Beusker
5/5
© Roy Beusker

At the beginning of this attitude-heavy hip hop extravaganza, the dancers launch into a routine so far out it suggests they’ve just been dropped from outer space. A bewildering flurry of popping, locking, breaking and robotic jerking later and I’m convinced: these bodies ain’t human.

Of course, ‘street’ dance is no alien creation; it burst from the sidewalks of New York in the ’70s. And ‘Blaze’ pays homage to the moves originally busted on Bronx kerbs and goes on to demonstrate their evolution over the years.

That might sound like a history lesson, but make no mistake: ‘Blaze’ is no-brains fun. From Es Devlin’s versatile towering cupboard set and Beatrice Jolly’s bold, fluorescent costumes to the pumping Lady Gaga remixes and Jackson 5 classics, this show swaggers confidently through its 90 minutes.

Director Anthony Van Laast gives each performer a distinct character. Among the 16, there’s Ruben Verhoeven as the kooky bespectacled geek, Jomecia Oosterwolde as a funky nu-soul girl and three b-boys, whose trousers were so baggy I was frankly impressed by their ability to walk in them let alone dance. The dancers have a vivid, infectious and sassy energy that makes them compelling to watch.

‘Blaze’ is essentially a succession of dance medleys with transitions between them that are a little clunky. There’s no narrative which – coupled with the intense, colourful backdrop projections – leaves the show resembling one (very) long MTV video. It could certainly do with a prune, but the dancers work hard to carry the night and without doubt it belongs to them.

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