Dance Review: Flawless & English National Ballet in Against Time @ Hammersmith Apollo

The classical ballerinas of English National Ballet combine with street dance champions Flawless in exuberant new fusion Against Time. A ropey story provides the backdrop for some truly exquisite dancing, as school students attempt to stop a magical hat-wearing professor from altering time.

Flawless’ choreography is spectacular. Dancers control their bodies with such minute precision that movements are incredibly detailed and mesmeric. Their strength is also astounding, with acrobatic back flips and incessantly-held headstands showcasing the group’s exceptional power and talent. The ENB girls seem tame in comparison, with their beautifully-performed and elegant split leaps and pirouettes on pointe providing a less flashy spectacle. But when the Flawless boys attempt a ballet barre, it becomes clear just how difficult the classical technique is.

Pop songs from “Moves like Jagger” to “Jailhouse Rock” as well as a mixture of classical music and street dance beats accompany the dancing as we are transported from one inexplicable setting to another, each providing an excuse for a different segment of dance. There is school detention with Flawless’ unruly and anti-authority break-dancing and then suddenly a mystical maze where tutu-wearing garden animals glide across the stage. At the Professor’s house, students encounter a Pierrot doll and a masked ball in yet more bizarrely random and yet entertaining dance interludes.

We’ve seen numerous ballet and contemporary dance performances but this was very different from anything else we’ve experienced. The audience was positively buzzing with cheers ringing out for every impressive move onstage. English National Ballet is really pushing the boundaries what it means to be a ballet company, with some surprisingly fantastic results.

Against Time tour is now touring the UK and comes to London’s New Wimbledon Theatre from 23-24 June. Tickets available here.

Photo by Laurent Liotardo

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