If you’ve ever wondered what a fusion of steampunk, street dance and ballet would look like, Against Time featuring Flawless and the English National Ballet, created by Flawless’s leader Marlon “Swoosh” Wallen and ENB soloist Jenna Lee is it.
After performing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, they went on to perform onstage beside Diversity as well as on screen in Street Dance 2 and Street Dance 3D, and even performed at the Diamond Jubilee Concert. After 60 years, the English National Ballet continues to delight audiences around the UK, and their hookup with Flawless is no exception.
The show, centred around the storyline of a mad dance teacher (Christian “Bounce” Alozie) who controls time and therefore his students, celebrates a combination of Flawless’s dynamic acrobatic dance moves and the classic stylings of the ballet, all set to contemporary, upbeat music. The staging is minimal but effective, and the use of video on a backdrop enhances the storyline magic.
This is one of those shows you really want to see done well, because they’re stepping outside the box to do something new, which is brave, particularly when it comes to the often purist world of ballet. Frustratingly, however, the story line lets it down (not the dancing). It’s not so different from the movies Flawless have danced in: the ‘difficult’ fusion of different types of dance with different types of dance people, young couples falling in love and trying to save the world. Through dance, of course.
Though the mildly misogynistic undertones can leave a bitter taste, as the ballerinas dance about the stage with little agency, all frills and no backbone, and the boys take charge and save the day, there’s no question the cast of this show can dance. The ballet is lovely, if not always in time, and the street moves crisp and precise, with lots of awe inspiring body control. There are moments of humour directed at the audience, and the general vibe of the show is positive, if shallow.
If you want to introduce your children to dance, this is a great way to do it. It’s fun and frivolous, with lovely young ballerinas and strong young street dancers. You leave the theatre feeling good, and at the end of the day, perhaps that’s what dance is all about anyway.
Against Time was performed by Flawless & the English National Ballet at Nottingham's Theatre Royal on Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 June 2012.