Standing in front of Simon Cowell can be a make-or-break moment for many performers. The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent judge is synonymous with caustic comments and career-ending remarks – so when he says you’re “one of the best acts I’ve ever seen”, you know you’ve got something special.
Marlon Wallen recalls the moment he and his fellow dancers found themselves in just such a position, during the 2009 auditions for Britain’s Got Talent. “It was really nerve-wracking,” he recalls. “Just having Simon Cowell sitting there and not knowing what he’s going to say. I remember standing at the side of the stage and seeing that buzzer table and thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’ve seen this on TV so many times, and now we’re actually here’. But we were confident in what we had, and got a really good response.”
Wallen had every reason to be confident. His streetdance troupe, Flawless, impressed the judges within seconds, and had the crowd up on its feet by the end of the routine. Dressed in stylish suits and dancing with razor sharp synchronicity, the group more than lived up to its name. Any other year, Flawless could easily have sailed to the top spot but as fate would have it, another hip hop company – Diversity – danced its way into the public’s heart.
Surprisingly, there’s not a trace of bitterness amongst the Flawless crew. “It was never about the competition for us,” says Wallen. “We want to be legends and leave something behind, and I think the fact that we didn’t win but are still successful is a huge message for people who are struggling on their own path. It doesn’t come easy, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Despite not taking the Britain’s Got Talent crown, Flawless remained true to its motto, “chase the dream, not the competition”. Five years after Wallen started the group in North London, that dream is well and truly coming true. Having danced with the likes of Madonna and Beyonce, Flawless recently appeared in the box office smash StreetDance 3D and will be performing its first full-length show, Chase The Dream, at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
“It’s a phenomenal feeling,’ says Wallen. “To come from where we started, then get that national profile on TV, and now people want to come and see what we can do in a full-on production. We can’t wait.” Performing a two-minute routine on Britain’s Got Talent requires considerably less material than a 60-minute live show, however. How have the ten Flawless boys risen to the challenge?
“There are a lot of different dance styles in it,” explains Wallen. “So people are going to see us do things they haven’t seen before. There are also solos and duets, because if you have everybody on stage dancing full-on all the time, it can get boring, and we want to build up the crowd. Everything is important to us – not just the dancing, but the music, the clothing. We know how to entertain people and what they want to see, and we really appreciate the audience so it’s important for us to engage with them.”
Flawless – Chase The Dream, Udderbelly, 5-30 August (not 16), 3.45pm, From £8, Tel: 08445 458 252