Over the Edge

Choreography by Kenrick 'H20' Sandy, music by Michael 'Mikey J' Asante
Blue Boy Entertainment
Barbican Theatre

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Last year's Olivier winner Pied Piper and this week's A Night with the Bratz featured Blue Boy's vibrant young company, but this show is performed by a much smaller group composed of Blue Boy's older and most experienced dancers. This is a team of soloists who can also weld into a powerful ensemble.

Pied Piper took a well-known story and gave a modern, youthful twist to that scenario. Here Sandy and Asante have put together a programme that reflects the kind of features you might find in a popular life-style magazine and, as well as the earlier work's pounding hip-hop, draws on a wider range of style in both music and choreography, influenced perhaps by their recent collaboration with classical dance when working on the movie StreetDance 3D.

There isn't a through narrative, as with Robert Browning's Hamelin tale, but a series of stand alone numbers, although the, opener a witty piece called Cereal about snatching breakfast and getting dressed for work (or not in the case of one guy homeless and sleeping rough,) leads straight into a sequence about travelling on the Jubilee line into Stratford. Although its individual moments may be quite literal - choosing the shirt, strap-hanging on the train - it is a collage of things happening together that plays jokes with the furniture and counterpoints moves to provides an emotional rather than a literal picture with an impact that grows as Steve Williams video projections - with Steve Stewart's colourful costumes an important part of an otherwise minimalist staging - spread across the whole stage.

Other sections, which you could interpret as dream sequences of commuters' fantasy lives, are mixed in their effectiveness. One girl becomes an international model with cat-walk divas strutting their stuff but not much by way of choreography, and a section that imagines some sort of alien abduction, using interesting lighting (Mike Gunning) to suggest entrapment, lacks any narrative clarity. Much more successful is a section called Krump, Buck Amp which showcases individual performers in pools of light.

There is absolutely no doubt about the skills of the fifteen dancers who are always good to watch and, though sometimes a little under-lit, the show looks great and there are some thrilling moments. However some of the ideas in its ten segments seem incompletely developed and at times the choreography seems tame from this team. What is interesting and promising for the future is the way in which this moves on from just high-energy hip-hop to make some kind of statement about people's lives and introduces sometimes much gentler choreography than most street-dance while exploiting its physical skills.

Runs until 25th July 2010

Reviewer: Howard Loxton

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