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ROCK THE BALLET – Peacock Theatre, London.

Rasta Thomas’ company The Bad Boys of Dance present their ‘Pop meets Classical’ piece Rock The Ballet, which is playing at The Peacock Theatre until June 28th. Described as ‘an epic dance experience you’ll never forget’ boasting ‘dynamic dancing versatility and endearing individuality’, though unfortunately Adrienne Canterna’s choreography does little to showcase any of these things.

The show opens with an underwhelming and under energised number to The Chemical Brothers’ Block Rockin Beats, an ensemble of five guys doing the same, simple (and not very effective) choreography instead of the dance explosion we are expecting. There is not a throughline as such, we are presented with a playlist of catchy songs with a separate dance to each, though halfway through Act 1 a boy-meets-girl storyline emerges which seems irrelevant to the song choices and is then disregarded in Act 2.

The music is well chosen – feel good songs that make you want to get up and dance: from Beyonce’s Fever to Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock, but yet again, Canterna’s choreography does nothing to differentiate between styles. Uninspiring and repetitive, there is nothing witty or clever about it. Yes, jumps are executed perfectly, pirouettes come in dozens and legs kick heads, but is that on it’s own really enough? What about all the magic inbetween? At no point am I left gasping or wondering ‘how did they do that?!’ And with the level of talent onstage that seems like a real missed opportunity. Instead, all I could help thinking was why are the cast doing strange kick-your-bum pixie runs everywhere as opposed to, well, just running?

From the intermittent moments of real ‘dancing’ from the ensemble, it’s clear we have an amazing set of dancers here, but they do not dance well together as a company. Styles vary from dancer to dancer which is what one would expect from a show of this type, yet these styles are not exploited. Instead of a seven-strong dance company, we have been given two overindulged principals (Canterna and James Boyd) and five male ensemble who only seem to be there to fill up the space.

Act 2 picks up a little with a more modern, rockier edge, though again the marrying of styles is lost on me. Why is the principal bodylocking and the ensemble classic ballet? Thomas is attempting to modernise classical dance here, but Rond de Jambes to David Guetta just feels out of context. In contrast to Matthew Bourne or Fredrik Rydman’s contributions to this genre of updating classical plot lines and making the language of ┬ádance more accessible to modern audiences, Rock The Ballet feels thoughtless and limited.

The show goes down 90 minutes later but not before the guys take their tops off and Canterna has at least eight bows. More ‘Summer School Dance Show’ than a Rock Sensation, you’re probably better off staying home and watching Strictly.

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Reviewed 12/06/14

By Amy Lawrence
@AmyELawrence

10th – 28th June 2014
Peacock Theatre, London, W1.

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