Creative Director: Jennifer Master
Directors: Milo and Jennifer Masters
Reviewer: Maryam Philpott
The fusion of two very different styles can be transformational, seeing opposing ideas uniquely combined can be both dynamic and inspirational. Milo and Jennifer Master’s decision to unite ballet and hip hop in a single dance show is a genuinely interesting concept, one with potential appeal to fans of both as well as helping new audiences to appreciate the balance and musical phrasing that they have in common.
It’s a shame then that Beats on Pointe never quite manages to truly combine these two flavours, and aside from some showstopping tricks is far from a unified experience. For much of the show, the ballet and street dance styles remain separate, they appear on stage at the same time, dancing to the same music, but by and large, they are distinct forms appearing side-by-side in a series of scrappily choreographed sequences that lack any sense of overarching narrative or cohesion.
So much of the show prioritises image over content, and while trainers with mini-LEDs and illuminated tutus make pretty stage pictures, the dances often lack finesse or purpose. In both styles, movements aren’t finished properly, arms never fully extend through the fingers and landings are interrupted a moment too early. As the dancers start to flag, there is no time for precision as the volume of scenarios in this two-hour show means they must move quickly to the next mark.
The free-style nature of break-dancing with its acrobatics and head-spinning antics is always impressive, and while the performances could be tighter, there’s plenty in Beats on Pointe to impress the audience. In a highly gendered production Jamane Virdo, Danny Williams, Burak Cagin, Phillip Egan and Taylor Diamond-Lord do most of the tricks, with impressive mid-air switches, backspins and flips that emphasise the very masculine energy of the show. Only Oriana Siew-Kim has any real chance to shine in their wake.
The ballet is far less impressive and more readily exposed by some clumsy choreography and the far superior skill of male dancer Brodie Chesher whose balletic shaping and poise is the show’s most impressive feature. The female dancers Georgia Mae Rutland, Kelly Hemsley, Rebecca Selkirk, Natalie Debono, Kealy Fouracre and Lissy Jaye are ill-served by the show’s structure which essentially portrays women as graceful or flirtatious, and they may have more costume changes than a Kylie concert, but they lack synchronicity.
The filler sections are equally misjudged with a painful comedy rap that introduces a bit of clowning, while Diamond-Lord leaps onto the urban backdrop to demonstrate his speed and skill by trying some improvised drumming of the trashcans, but it’s all rather contrived and you can’t escape the thought that what we are really watching is a man hit some plastic bins with a stick for far too long, not quite the revolutionary fusion of classic and modern dance styles we expected.
True fusion is far more than an extended dance-off, and for the idea to succeed there needs to be a proper infusion between these two different styles. Beats on Pointe has so much potential but as Act Two becomes a series of music video-like medleys, the choreography and performance start to feel rather half-hearted. The reason for bringing ballet and hip hop together never becomes clear.
Runs until: 16 June 2019 | Image: Contributed