Performing on stages from Broadway to New York Fashion Week, the US-based Bad Boys of Dance make their high-octane debut in London with Rock the Ballet. The show's programme insists it's "an epic dance experience you'll never forget". This is certainly true — on a number of levels.
It must be said outright: the performers really shouldn't be judged by the first half. Between a combination of dad rock (yes, Robert Palmer, Aerosmith and U2), 80s-style projected graphics and costumes including polo-shirts for the men and a Cinderella outfit for the lady, it just isn't working. Even the 14 male dancers and single lead female, who also happens to be the Boys of Ballet's resident choreographer, don't seem like their hearts are in it. As immensely talented as they all appear, the Strictly Come Dancing / Dancing on Ice / Britain's Got Talent format feels more in line with a cheesy hen night.
When the second act pulsates into play, it's instantly clear that this is where the dancers and choreographers alike truly shine. Playful songs like Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 and Shot Me Down by David Guetta zip through the playlist in short increments, letting the performers quickly show off one dance style and then another. And let's be clear here: these guys (and girl — Adrienne Canterna Thomas) can move, we mean really move. From swing dance, with men dressed in tuxedos, to hip hop and breakdancing, where shirts are thrown off and muscles bulge, the steps are executed with precision and heaps of energy. Pay close attention to lead performer, James Boyd: his strength and agility are truly astounding.
While you could say it's a bit Chippendale-esque, the (predominantly female) audience loves it. Screams, whoops and synchronised clapping can be heard all around. The theatre transforms from a sad disco night to a thump'n concert where the audience might as well be given glow sticks and whistle blowers. It's fun — so fun that the artists come back for two (or three) encore sets. If the audience had their way, the encores would keep on coming. So Rasta Thomas (Rock the Ballet's Founder and Director), please ditch the first act and bring on more second acts. It truly rocks.
Bad Boys of Dance - Rock the Ballet is showing at the Peacock Theatre in Holborn until Saturday 28 June. Show starts at 7.30pm from Tuesday through Sunday, with an additional matinee show on Sundays at 2.30pm. Tickets are £12 - £38. Londonist saw this on a complimentary ticket.