ZooNation is the glitzier. The dancers also work in commercial theatre; several danced on Kylie Minogue's last tour. Into the Hoods is filled with urban references - iPods, tower blocks, coveted trainers - but it's inspired by Sondheim's Into the Woods, with sketches for fairy-tale characters.
Two very assured children, Chante Simpson and Russell Royer, are lost in the city, meeting the inhabitants of a tower block. Cinderella becomes Spinderella. Li'l Red fends off a record-industry Wolf who wants her to sign a contract. The soundtrack is sampled, with songs doing much of the characterisation.
Kate Prince, the company's founder and choreographer, builds up scenes for her leading dancers. Performances are slick, and sometimes better than that. Shaun Niles dances the Ugly Stepmom with panache and real good humour; Spinderella gives her hip-hop moves a sharp edge. Yet the show is poorly paced. Most scenes are too long. Fairy-tale characters are brought all the way on stage for a single joke, then kept there while routines are worked out around them.
In Underworld, by Impact Dance, young and eager dancers are let down by their material. Underworld is based on the film, with its war between werewolves and vampires.
The company has added dances, songs and plot development, but the piece still feels second-hand. Vampires in leather coats attack werewolves in furry flares, both opening their mouths to snarl or howl. Dance sequences, filled with drilled unison steps, recall music videos.
Though the performers are disciplined, they aren't natural actors, and they're not helped by slack direction. The final confrontation is by far the best scene. The two sides slip into a hip-hop battle, allowing the dancers to show off their best moves. A kung-fu vampire added some exuberant hand moves; the leading wolf girl showed a touching sense of melancholy.