Eight figures surge across the stage, their limbs a flurry of action, prowling and twisting, stomping and slashing, every gesture a punch, a wrench, a stab. They move in unison, like a squadron of killers, firing imaginary weapons straight out at the audience as waves of electronic beats rain down overhead.
This is Boy Blue Entertainment, a hip-hop dance company from east London, whose performances have won widespread acclaim. The five men and three women show off all their raw power in Blak Whyte Gray, a ‘dance creation’ that serves up brilliantly choreographed scenes such as the one above.
The body-popping and breakdancing that flowered in tandem with the pioneers of hip-hop music in the late 1970s and early 1980s provide the basis of many of the moves – the opening scene of robots joyfully discovering just what they can do, for example. In another scene, they recreate the unmistakable swooping arc of dolphins breaking through the surface of the sea. There are acrobatic tumbles and mid-air flips, fragments of African dance, ballet and even flamenco.
What it all means is left to the viewer to decide. The narrative, such as it is, feels deliberately ambiguous. There are scenes of oppression, of elation, of co-operation, all propelled by the percussive soundtrack. It’s breathless stuff and dazzlingly inventive at times, the sheer exuberance of movement a vivid celebration of what the human body is capable of.
Words: Judy Diamond
Picture: Carl Fox
Blak Whyte Gray, The Lyceum, Aug 16-19, 7.30pm