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English National Ballet and Flawless: Against Time – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Choreographers: Marlon ‘Swoosh’ Wallen and Jenna Lee

Reviewer: Cathy Crabb

[Rating:5]

English National Ballet and Flawless come together here for a high energy show combining their fields of expertise.

The story serves to present us with an awe inspiring sequence of dances that fit so well together through their duality. Here we have two forms of expression to music, which both take life time dedication and discipline, entirely different in how they pick up musical rhythm but still both owned by the metronome and still both reliant on the emotive aspects of a piece of music, be it Tchaikovsky or Tinie Tempah.

It is the symmetry and craft involved in both disciplines of dance that have you moved and transfixed. Yes, it is main stream in design, but the abandonment in both forms of dance, combined with the popular choices in music and story are somehow encompassing of the aesthetics of art and how it can make you feel. In this case – elated. It’s a truly enjoyable show.

What it brings as a show – entertainment value aside as that is integral and top notch – is a meeting of two audiences that appreciate something in dance and music that you would imagine to be either end of the scale – the urban grass roots gang inspired street dance/the elitist high-brow institution of ballet.

There are a lot of cute moments – it is family orientated – such as when they swap styles in dance class, which was fun and clear that the lines do not entirely cross. As a spectacle too, some of the costumes are stunning and inventive; the masked men in the maze are incredible, the illuminated fireflies and the simple but enchanting Pierrot, to name only a few. There is a varied assortment of delights here.

The huge screen backdrop could serve to help the story along as the dance sequences would be enough to tell tale, which is of a mad professor who is fierce and enigmatic wanting to control the world of dance. At the end, ENB have a very quick curtain call all together and each member of Flawless comes on individually, but this was a joint performance and the bows should reflect that.

Music volume at the theatre is not often loud enough to elevate an audience’s mood but in this case it does and at the end of this particular performance the audience surged to their feet, always great to witness that level of enjoyment. Buy tickets immediately.

Runs until 8th July 2012.

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