If you’re into dance, the Peacock should be on your radar. It plays host to some of the most original productions around, yes. But just as importantly, it gives you an up-close-and-personal view of that all-important footwork from virtually every seat in the house.
This intimate vibe works particularly well for Beats On Pointe, a groundbreaking Australian dance show on the first stop of its world tour. It’s sold as ‘an electric fusion of street dance and ballet’. But that’s far from the whole story, as I found when I flipped open the programme.
‘An action-packed roller coaster of old and new school street dance, classical and contemporary ballet, physical comedy, beat boxing and even some singing!’ the quote on the inside cover cheerfully listed. My heart sank – I was excited about seeing something new, about boundaries being pushed, but when I go to see a dance show, I go to see a dance show. My misgivings grow when one of the cast members takes to the stage to help us ‘warm up our vocal cords’ with the old call-and-response routine.
But if you don’t ‘do’ audience participation, panic not. Once the show kicks off, no further demands will be made on your vocal cords. Phew. Instead, a ballet vs. hip hop ‘dance-off’ sets the tone for a fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek production punctuated by comic moments. The vogueing ballerinas challenge the b-boy tricksters with some seriously impressive aerial cartwheels. But it’s their perfectly synced multiple fouetté turns that seal the deal for me. FYI: a fouetté turn is a pirouette with an extra leg whip – and it’s tough. Even Anna Pavlova avoided doing them.
So no, Beats On Pointe ain’t your typical dance show. But that’s exactly the point. It’s more like a sketch show. An attitude-packed group number (I’m a Slave 4 U was a personal highlight – c’mon, it’s Britney, b***h) might segue into a beautiful lyrical solo – or an off-the-wall comedy sketch.
The soundtrack is seriously diverse and packed with crowd pleasers: everything from Ain’t Nobody by Chaka Khan to Lose Yourself by Eminem. There are several Michael Jackson references – controversial? Maybe, but you don’t mess with a ballerina who can do a toe stand and moonwalk en pointe.
Switching seamlessly from échappé to back tuck, this is one seriously skilled cast. The boys’ hip hop cane dance was breathtaking, while Oriana Siew-Kim’s emotional contemporary solo was simply incredible. The choreography was just missing a few more of those ‘moonwalk’ moments where we really saw the two disciplines come together.
The mash-up of dance with comedy worked just as well as the mash-up of styles. The dance and music-based skits highlighted the cast’s comic timing – and other hidden talents. We had everything from Phillip Egan’s frankly astounding beatboxing to a stunning a cappella version of Irreplaceable (move over, Beyonce). Then there was Taylor Diamond-Lord’s turn on the drums – well, bin lids – which concluded a hilariously impressive body percussion sketch. Brodie Chesher’s tutu-clad class crasher might have brought the biggest LOLs, but it was the love story between two ageing caretakers that stole the comedy crown for me – proving you’re never too old to twerk.
OK, this might not be one for the classical purists, but if you want a fast-paced, fun-packed show laced with laugh-out-loud moments, innovative choreography and serious technical skill? It’s a must-see.
Directed and produced by: Milo & Jennifer Masters
Chief ballet choreographer: Emma Vaiano
Street choreographer: Phill Haddad
Hip hop choreographer: Alexander Lima
Box Office: 020 7863 8222
Booking Link: https://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2019/beats-on-pointe-masters-of-choreography/
Booking Until: 16th June 2019