A review by James Buxton w for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

In association with World Dance Management

 

Flawless: Chase the Dream

 

Photo by Eric Richmond

 

Artistic Director and Lead Choreographer: Marlon “Swoosh” Wallen

 

Choreography: Flawless

 

Creative Consultants: Stacey Haynes and Annabel Haydn

 

Lighting Designer and Production Manager: David Watson

 

Music Editor: Nathan “Neo” Gordon

 

Peacock Theatre

 

10 - 28 May 2011

 

 

 

 

Jaw-dropping would be the first word that springs to mind when describing the terpsichorean antics of Flawless; a street dance group who could power all the bright lights of Theatre Land with just one of their shows. Founded by Marlon “Swoosh” Wallen in 2004, Flawless is comprised of ten vigorously talented young black men, all with one aim in mind, to become the world's greatest dance act, a title they have already achieved after beating fifty other nations at the World Dance Championship in Germany. However, it was not until they reached the finals of 2008's Britain's Got Talent, that they were able to hit the big time, since then they've never looked back, moving onto star in 2010's StreetDance 3D.

Flawless, Chase the Dream is a show of two halves, the first part revolves around a tramp who is being chased by a gang of red capped rude boys after he discovers a black bag. While the second part is set on a spaceship, where four of the ten dancers are selected to engage in a virtual re-enactment from films such as The Mask or The Matrix.

This is Hi-Octane stuff, that has an audience of all ages and ethnicities, whooping and whistling with excitement. As the bass line drops, the dancers pop their abs, thrust their pelvis's and judder their shoulders in time to the staccato thud of electronic beats. They move as one organism, all tuned into the same wavelength, choreographed with immaculate precision. Paul “Steady” Steadman plays the role of the tramp, stumbling from one scene to the next, clutching the black bag, bumping off red shell suited B-Boys who windmill around him into the traffic of silver suited commuters marching to work, as an endless tube train slides past on the large screen. The auditorium reverberates with an urban soundtrack of shattering glass and sirens all mixed into Gordon's seismic soundtrack.

The music is as diverse as the age range of the audience and Wallen's choreography caters for all tastes, able to blend seamlessly a spectrum of different dance styles with an assortment of varied  musical genres. Crunching electronic beats mix freely into freaky electro synths, while crunkilicious   Hip Hop loops evolve out of feverish remixes of James Brown soul classics. The ensemble are as tight as their ripped torsos, switching up from pinpoint precision to a swaggering nonchalance, striking poses with offhand ease and performing with natural charisma and flair. Their homage to Michael Jackson's Thriller, is testament to their ability to incorporate their influences and develop them into their own slick re enactments.

This is a spectacle of such intensity and energy you will quite literally need sunglasses to view the proceedings. Watson's lighting would not look out of place in a prison break, as the white lights search the audience, or smoke billows out of a crimson mist, the dancers back flip, somersault and cartwheel their way through 140 minutes of eye popping entertainment.

Audience participation is central to the sense of involvement and Flawless have devised an ingenious, hands on method of engagement. Let me introduce an ordinary pair of white gloves, a simple concept perhaps, but imagine them on the hands of every single audience member, now imagine the steely voice of an automaton and a pair of disembodied white gloves instructing a sold out house to move their hands to a specific routine. Now the bass line kicks in and up on the large screen before us, a thousand pairs of hands move in time under an ultraviolet hue to the pounding rhythm of the track. Somewhere in this field of waving white gloves are your hands.

Flawless's crew of talented dancers are brilliant role models for a disaffected youth, who would spurn theatre, as an elitist art form full of queers and snobs. Obviously this is not the case. but it is often the criticism theatre encounters and it is important we embrace as wide a demographic of ages and ethnicities, to ensure that the ancient power of theatre is entrusted to the younger generations, who will only be interested if it is relevant and inspirational to their lives.

The roots of Street Dance may have grown out from under the sidewalks of 1970's New York, where the original B-Boys would break dance beside their Ghetto Blasters, to the sounds of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5. Flawless have snatched the weeds that grew out from these cracks in the street and yanked them up, rupturing the pavement and bursting the curb-side fire hydrant. This is a celebration of respecting where you came from and revolutionising where you are going. What the Wu-Tang Clan did for Rap, Flawless are doing for Dance.

 

Peacock Theatre
Portugal Street
London
WC2A 2HT

Ticket office:
0844 412 4322
Tickets
£12 - £28
Performance times
10 - 28 May 2011
Tue - Sat at 7.30pm
Sat at 2.30pm
Sun at 4pm
http://www.sadlerswells.com/show/flawless-chase-the-dream
 

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