Dance Review: Boy Blue Entertainment:Over the Edge

UK street dance has enjoyed the media spotlight lately. Britain’s Got Talent plucked its last two winners from the scene, with both Diversity and George Sampson going on to star in the hit film Streetdance 3D, alongside fellow contestants Flawless.

Boy Blue Entertainment has not enjoyed the same level of attention, but they were just as crucial to the film’s creation. Artistic Directors Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy and Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante provided the choreography and music, while a number of their company’s dancers starred in the production.

The East London hip-hop company started in 2001, running lessons for young people who traditionally didn’t have access to dance training. Nine years on they are enjoying a two-week residency at the Barbican.

Over The Edge is a crazy, full-on hip-hop show, charting a day in the life of various characters. It revolves around stories in a magazine, from phobias to clubbing, via alien abduction.

Cereal starts the day, with the breakfast table a focal point for the cast to introduce themselves via some wake-up breaks. Businessmen, beauticians and road-workers burst on to the scene, each with their own individual styles.

The music kicks along at pace and is euphoric by the time the group suddenly break into synchronised moves. The effect is mesmerising and provides an exhilarating opening.

The title piece Over The Edge shifts the story onto the tube. Simple actions like dancers holding onto imaginary rails cleverly recreate the daily rat race.

Magazine Cut Out sees a plain beautician transformed by fierce fashion police, the preening fashionista in red sunglasses straight out of The Devil Wears Prada. The scene is both funny and stylish as the models strut down the catwalk, busting confident and sassy moves.

An interlude between sections sees a sozzled tramp body-pop along to a clattering soundtrack. The timing is spot-on as each clink of a bottle is met with a drunken movement.

Unusual Force provides a supernatural twist in an alien abduction number that is slow to start. The futuristic lighting and props bring to life a scene straight from a sci-fi movie.

Darkness moves to light as the action shifts to a club night at the House of Blue. Several dancers show off their dynamic moves as the spotlight falls on them one by one.

Each are conducted, puppet master style by the DJ, suddenly coming together in symphony.  They fluidly perform their individual moves, somehow remaining in time and their energy and power is the show’s highlight.

Uip-Vop has the performers dressed in white boiler suits and masks, illuminated in UV.  Their routine is slick, all hands and arms breaking shapes, while neon-lit mouths singing along add a touch of surreal humour.

Krump, Buck, Amp finds the dancers krumping to a beating-heart soundtrack, each aggressively releasing exaggerated, freestyle motions.

The intensity builds with every dance and by the end of the scene, one dancer is being physically held back by five others. The powerful movements are explosive and take your breath away.

It’s a tough act to follow and Phobiaz sees a low-key performance in white, clown-style masks. It’s the one part of the show where choreography is a little light and it’s met with polite rather than enthusiastic applause.

Things pick up with Finale though, the performers taking the applause in sets of three. Once everyone’s on stage they launch into one of the tightest routines you could hope to see, only pausing to showcase each other’s freestyle moves.

It’s a clever way of showing each artist’s personality in a collective effort and proves a smart end to a thrilling performance.

The talent and versatility of the dancers is exceptional with the choreography super tight. The performers are all amazing individually, although the impact is strongest when all 15 of them are moving as one.

The one small criticism of the show is that this grouping doesn’t happen enough, although this shouldn’t detract from what is an original, inspiring production.

Street dance enthusiasts will love it, as will anyone who has had the briefest of interests in dance. The show’s unique concept provides something different to traditional dance performances.

If Boy Blue Entertainment continue to produce engaging works like Over The Edge and previous Olivier Award-winner Pied Piper it won’t be long before they are enjoying the same level of success as their Streetdance 3D contemporaries.

‘Over The Edge’ is at The Barbican Theatre from 21-25 July 20210. For more details of the show and to book tickets visit www.barbican.org.uk/theatre/event-detail.asp?ID=10548

For further information on Boy Blue Entertainment visit www.boyblueent.com

About James Corke

James completed a Certificate of Higher Education in Journalism at Birkbeck, University of London. He has built a solid portfolio of feature articles and commentaries largely focused on arts, culture and sport at People with Voices, and has also freelanced at the BBC’s Match of the Day magazine.

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