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Flawless presents

Flawless: Chase the Dream

Photo by Steve Ullathorne

 

Written and created by Flawless

 

Choreographed by Marlon ‘Swoosh’ Wallen

 

Royal Festival Hall

21 – 23 Dec 2010

 

 

 

 

 

A review by Richard J Thornton for EXTRA! EXTRA!

You might remember Flawless as the dance crew who lost out to Diversity in the heated showdown of Britain’s Got Talent, but after success at the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year, the North London dance crew are back in the capital to remind us all to chase our dreams, and not the competition.

In this relatively new genre of stage performed street dance, it’s difficult to know what to expect. One fear is that the show would be nothing more than an elongated recital of Flawless’s talent show auditions, a mashed together blend of unconnected themes attempting to stretch into the skin of a feature length production. Luckily, Flawless skilfully avoid this pitfall and build a (relatively) cohesive show that is confident in its art and creative in its production, which transmits a heartfelt message about the importance of self-discovery and enjoying what you do.

The show is split, somewhat haphazardly, into two halves. The first is a series of dances which  follow a tramp who steals a bag in order to better himself, but who learns the ills of his ways through the therapeutic dance of the eminent Flawless. The narrative is far from smooth, but charmingly provides different excuses through which the dancers can wow the audience, and different props to add flair with. There are moments when the themes seem a little irresponsible for the young audience, shotguns pumping in the shadows and group bullying are not explained enough to avoid being gratuitous, but are rare enough not to mar the wholesome message. Nevertheless, the dancing is the attraction, and the ‘plot’ is just enough to keep the audiences imagination alive. The production is at its best when it revels in the frivolity of its art, and at its’ lowest when the themes become too self-conscious. Highlights include the rather touching mime-mirror scene, and the white-suited, first-half, hat-flipping finale.

The second half’s spaceship location is largely unnecessary, but it gives the kids a little wonder with which to imagine their dancing heroes. The dancing in the second half loses some of its precision and ingenuity, there are fewer solo spectacles, and the finale feels a little tired, but overall it holds the attention of even the least street dance orientated mind. The forays into popular film culture, such as dance scenes from The Mask and The Matrix bring some light-hearted relief after the slightly darker themes of the first half, and the bit where the hero gets to choose his dance talisman had even the Dads shouting – ‘the jacket, choose the jacket’!

Growing up visiting the UK B-Boy Championships in Brixton means I’ve experienced a bounty of world class break dancing, so for me the moments when the dancers began breaking seemed a little dry. It’s great to see dancers achieving through both choreography and individual endeavours, but it does show that the best breakers don’t dance in unison, and the best group dancers aren’t the best head-spinners. Nevertheless, none of this nitpicking put off the audience’s groove. The beauty of Flawless is the inspiration they give to young dancers, and only a savage dance critic would grumble at the fun-filled spectacle that the young men created on stage.

The music was a highlight because it provided something for everyone. From classic Motown and James Brown to grimy UK R’n’B, the soundtrack was modern, adventurous, inclusive, and laced with enough Michael Jackson to keep everyone’s knees going. The lighting is clever and punchy too. It must be quite a feat to create sharp, dance-based drama in the cavernous and dated Royal Festival Hall, but the Flawless lighting team manage it with precision equal to the onstage stars.

If you like dance for what it should be, an expression of freedom and courageous joy, Flawless will keep you happily hopping all through the holidays. You even get a chance to prove your moves with a choreographed audience hand-dance, complete with your free set of Jacko inspired white gloves! If you’re looking for a story-based dance show you can subtly interpret, perhaps try Sadler’s Wells. But if you fancy something fun and frivolous this Christmas, go get Flawless to fill your stockings full of itchy feet.

 

 

Box Office: 020 7960 4200 /

www.southbankcentre.co.uk

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road
London
SE1 8XX

7.30pm

Tickets: £27.50/£25/£15

 

 

 

 

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