Bold, jerky, aggressive, Blak Whyte Gray is a visceral, fresh, piece of work from award-winning East London hip-hop company Boy Blue Entertainment. It is obtuse, constraining and tight with an industrial score that has you on edge.
Formed in 2002 by urban choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy and producer/composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, Boy Blue Entertainment ‘s intention is to bring hip-hop from the streets and clubs firmly into the theatre, fusing music and movement in galvanising shows that swell with emotional energy. Boy Blue won an Olivier Award for their gritty Pied Piper and they also nurture new urban talent through a collection of groundbreaking youth companies.
This brash and brilliantly-choreographed performance begins with several performers dressed in Whyte, almost straightjacketed, dancing with an intended judder that suggests asylum and shock therapy. Evocative, this dance piece prompts questions about our present world. Frustration and oppression are themes here, as there is much to suggest a suppressing system. Synchronised, these dancers shudder in their flow on the Gray flooring, moving into new formations imbued with anger and rage.
Pretty much flawless, this dance piece is staggering. In one standout passage, one of the performers appears barely alive but is returned to life by his enigmatic comrades. This post-modern and streamlined setting captivate the senses,, whilst both Kenrick Sandy and Michael Asante opt for a non-linear narrative, disorientating and beguiling for the crowd.
There is constant movement on stage; constant powerful movement, be it the dancers themselves or the narrative, both conspiring to explore a more fluid way of living that becomes clearer as the evening concludes. We see a movement towards the Blak – tribal, African roots emerge, as colour and dance pay homage to associated traditions, and the dance itself evolves.
“Wow” is the only reasonable reaction to this performance, and it’s clear that Asante and Sandy will see another acclaimed response to this breath-taking show.
Photos courtesy of Carl Fox.
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