Blak Whyte Gray
- Lucy Ribchester
- 17 August 2017
Thrilling hip hop dance triptych from Boy Blue Entertainment
This powerful triptych from Boy Blue Entertainment starts at an electrifying pitch and from there just keeps building. Choreographer Kenrick 'H20' Sandy uses the nuances, moods and textures from various branches of hip hop and African dance and melts them into his own distinct movement style.
There are three pieces, but they feel seamlessly linked, taking the cast on a journey from constrained robotics through fiery rebellion to new beginnings of hope and celebration. In 'Whyte', the first piece, three dancers coated in padded, buckled jackets reverberate with cyborg jerks. It's hard to convey just how tight the movement is; they shudder with each lock of their joints, they move as if their limbs are set on tracks. They sometimes try to connect with one another by mirroring a move; at one point they all silently scream. Michael 'Mikey J' Asante's score has a choral feel here, rumbling with looped motifs.
A dancer sliding onstage on his back signals the start of 'Gray'. Here, though the tone is still grim, there's more of a community taking shape. An army of dancers amasses in razor-sharp drills and solos, taking the combative flair of battle dance and amping it up into a purer kind of power. The group's rage is mixed with a sense of mobilisation as the cast raise their fists to the air, and point imaginary machine guns. Lee Curran's lighting sends daggers of sharp black shadows flashing into the gloom.
'Blak' fills the show's second half, though it could hold its own as a dance hymn to rebirth. The cast take turns to puppet one chosen man and sometimes seem as if they are pushing him into a role he hasn't asked for, circling him, blessing him with their hands, anointing him with luminous red paint that comes alive under a blacklight. They drape him in robes of emperor red; the transformation is one he grows into, and gradually, from drills and ceremonies the dance turns celebratory.
It's these subtle mood changes and flashes of recognition that reach out and grasp you, while leaving enough space to have you thinking about what it all might mean long after it has finished.
Lyceum, until 19 Aug, 7.30pm (also 2.30pm on 19), £10–£26.