Blaze scoops up street dance, reality TV dance competitions and stage and video designers, cramming them all together to make a noisy, scattershot show. In one mood, it can frame champion-level breakdancing with sophisticated video design, imagery swirling. In another, it tries cheesy comedy routines with joke wigs and a clapometer.
There's an extraordinary range of people involved. Director Anthony Van Laast has a solid West End background, including choreography for Mamma Mia!; he's also directed the street dance show Bounce. Es Devlin has designed for theatre but also for Lady Gaga and the Pet Shop Boys.
The dancers include Tommy Franzé*and Lizzie Gough, who appeared in So You Think You Can Dance and a long list of guest choreographers who have worked with musicians from Justin Timberlake to Madonna.
The show opens with a line of spotlit dance shoes: trainers, boots, different colours and styles. Dancers stroll on, change their tops – the bare chests encouraging wolf whistles – and footwear. Behind them, Devlin's set is a teetering wall of drawers and cupboards, jumbled and half-open. Flat panels are lit to look like television screens; cupboards become fridges or entrances.
Dance numbers are packed briskly together, performers crawling out of cupboards or retreating up the walls. Blaze is bouncy but often generic, its dancers strutting and posing to a pop soundtrack. An early sequence has them stepping one by one from a line-up. It's not always enough to establish them as individuals. They come across more strongly in the curtain calls, when every dancer has a chance to show off properly.
The comedy sequences go from bright to groanworthy. When the music switches from hip-hop to Beethoven's Pastoral symphony, the video matches it with a lurid green cartoon landscape. The dancers promptly become balletic, arranging themselves in serene poses until their surroundings switch back.
Sometimes Blaze wants to compete with the glossiest pop videos; sometimes it heads for the end of the pier. With its breakdancing trio, and video design by Mehmet Akten and Robin McNicholas, it becomes something original and bold.
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