Peacock Theatre, London
May 21, 2019
There are some very loud and flamboyant characters in Beats on Pointe, a sometimes garish, often extravagant fusion of ballet and street dance. It’s also great fun.
There are sports bras, light-up tutus and sequined pointe shoes amongst many of the multiple costumes. The show is purposefully over-the-top in its comedy. It’s very hyper-theatrical, but there are also a lot of impressive performances full of tricks. It is certainly entertaining to see versatile dancers who are highly skilled in contrasting dance styles.
Some of the balletic sequences appeal with lots of quick, high-leg movements and. But, and as described in the programme notes and spoken in the show’s opening, the grace and beauty of ballet can sometimes take a lesser role in comparison to the street dancing and overall, flashy and commercial aesthetic. True, but it is still interesting and different to watch, when the more classical moments occur.
Ballet is performed to music from Eminem, Beyoncé and Michael Jackson; different, unexpected and unusual. The pop-filled music score that the dancers perform to is noticeably loud and the use of flickering torches displayed in a brief, on-stage light show is somewhat distracting. Both, however, are most likely designed to match the energetic on goings onstage.
At times, the fusion of ballet and street dance looks good in its patterns, formations and details, although at other times the two dance styles seem at odds. Sections shift dramatically back and forth from ballet to street dance. It sometimes become exhausting to watch. But it’s also entertaining. Part of the character of the show, and definitely well-received by the audience who watch as the dancers squeeze in as many of their skills as possible.
The cast’s broad abilities are seen especially in the first act, where there is singing, beatboxing, comedic performance sketches and even talking and involving the audience in a very brash introduction.
In one of these moments, Taylor Diamond-Lord performs alone on a drum set at the back of the stage. It’s high-speed and energetic, but there is also a simplicity in watching him perform on his own without any embellishments or excesses, which adds a slightly different element to the show. Oriana Siew-Kim, who has a very notable stage presence, also stood out.
Some of the more deliberately comedic aspects of the show involve exaggerated clichés and can sometimes come across as forced. However, they do elicit a lot of laughter and applause.
The second act of the show is more consistent, as the focus hones more to the dancing and less so to the multi-disciplinary skills that were presented in the first act.
Beats on Pointe gets top marks for being inclusive and welcoming of a wide range of viewers. It gives audiences an immediate sample of multiple performance styles.
The most memorable part of the show comes at the end, a positive and uplifting finale where the dancers individually showcase their abilities with exciting moves and tricks. The high energy and bright personalities that are seen in these moments resonate and leave a lovely memory to take away.
Beats on Pointe is at the Peacock Theatre to June 16, 2019. Visit www.sadlerswells.com for details and to book tickets.