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Maggie Foyer: Hot Hip Hop in London

The hottest dance ticket in London this last month was ZooNation’s, Some Like it Hip Hop that has been packing in wildly enthusiastic crowds of young people at the Peacock Theatre.

ZooNation is making a fine art form from hip hop: a story-line that chimes with contemporary issues is resolved to total satisfaction as the bad guy reforms, the cross-dressing is sorted and couples are paired up in partnership with music by DJ Walde and Josh Cohen, and a top quality design team.

Kate Prince. Photo ZooNation

Kate Prince. Photo ZooNation

Kate Prince, who previously produced and co-choreographed the smash hit, Into the Hoods has done it again. Bringing together the best hip hop talent, including Lizzie Gough and Tommy Franzén of TV So You Think You Can Dance fame and Teneisha Bonner (Nurse Rached in Bounce’s Insane in the Brain).

Prince has put together a phenomenal dance show where hip hop virtuosity is taken to new creative lengths and the energy is sufficient to drive the national grid. There is a revisionist nod and a wink to Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot in the dormitory scene where the cross dressing/ undressing scene echoes the night on the train, but this show stands on its own feet, full of originality and humour.

Tommy Franzén. Photographer Andrew Meyers, tommy franzen.se

Tommy Franzén. Photographer Andrew Meyers, tommy franzen.se

Swedish dancer, Tommy Frantzén is heaven; combining a teddy bear charm with Fred Astaire dance talent. You just know he’ll get the girl, the bubbly Jo-Jo played by Gough, because he’s simply the best.

Jo-Jo’s partner in their adventure into the male world is Kerri played by Bonner and they make an almost convincing moustachioed and suited couple.

Bonner with the looks and stature of Naomi Campbell, is not your stereotype street dancer but her lithe body is a combination of rubber and steel that makes the impossible seem standard.

The rest of the cast, an international mix of varied dance backgrounds certainly don’t disappoint and the finale where every dancer gets an individual showing had the audience roaring their delight.

Scottish Ballet's Eve Mutso and Owen Thorne in Kings 2 Ends. Photographer Andrew Ross

Scottish Ballet's Eve Mutso and Owen Thorne in Kings 2 Ends. Photographer Andrew Ross

Smallest and most innovative
At Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Scottish Ballet, who recently celebrated their 40th anniversary presented a double bill. The smallest and most innovative of the British classical companies, they can be relied on to bring an interesting programme and this visit was no exception with a premiere from Jorma Elo teamed with Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth.  Elo’s Kings 2 Ends bore his trademark idiosyncrasies: ballet steps taken to places they had never been before, a brilliant use of colour and amazing bursts of virtuosity. Elo uses the surprisingly effective partnership of Steve Reich’s Double Sextet and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 1, innovative costuming by Yumiko Takeshima and Jordan Tuinman designs and lighting are the final complement.  

Eve Mutso bookended the work opening and closing the action with her persuasive presence, but it was the men who bagged the best of the choreography in high flying moments that bristled with electricity. The women looked somewhat underpowered and I can’t help thinking that working on pointe would have given them the necessary edge. But despite the quibbles, it is a satisfying work and a welcome addition to the repertoire.

Scottish Ballet in MacMillans Song of the Earth. Photographer Andrew Ross

Scottish Ballet in MacMillans Song of the Earth. Photographer Andrew Ross

MacMillan wrote his Song of the Earth for Stuttgart Ballet when the Opera House in London refused to contemplate a ballet to Mahler’s song cycle. It remains a great work that has seen a pedigree stream of brilliant interpreters. Victor Zarallo was a powerful Messenger of Death but it was Tomomi Sato, delicate and strong, who captured the inner stillness with her intense focus complemented by her linear beauty and musical precision.  Partnered by Christopher Harrison, they brought the ballet to a moving climax. An added pleasure was the thrilling voice of mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill.

The company have just announced the appointment of Christopher Hampson as their new artistic director from September 2012. He will take over from Ashley Page who has led the company for the last nine years.

Alex Hyde, Anjali Dance Co. Photographer Jo Allen

Alex Hyde, Anjali Dance Co. Photographer Jo Allen

Against All Odds
In an outer London theatre Anjali Dance Company presented a double bill. This is a brave venture; a small company of dancers all with learning disabilities who have kept afloat for ten years against impossible odds.

Unexploded Stories gave the dancers a chance to express their alter egos, dreams and desires in eccentric solos while Fruit for Thought, choreographed by resident choreographer Aya Kobayashi is a bittersweet mix of horticulture and philosophy.

It is a gem; inventive, funny and a fine vehicle for the dancers.

Maggie Foyer
2 December 2011
Jag ville bara dansa
NorrDans
Dans i Nord
GöteborgsOperan

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