As a preamble to the action, a poetic voiceover promised “What happens now, won’t happen again”, which is all very well but it had certainly happened before. In shows like The Ballerina Who Loved a B-Boy and StreetDance 3D – a film that is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons – a sub-genre is developing that combines the grace of ballet with the grit of hip-hop. It’s in the same milieu of love stories between a posh girl and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, or of a West Side Story divide. And, it’s a global trend. The Ballerina Who Loved a B-Boy came from Seoul and now these Masters of Choreography have arrived all the way from Australia, stopping off in London as part of a world tour that continues through until next year. Incidentally, the Masters of Choreography tag is not a boast but named after the company’s co-founders, Jennifer and Milo Masters. Their three busy choreographers are Emma Vaiano (ballet), Phill Haddad (street) and Alexander Lima (hip-hop).

<i>Beats on Pointe</i> © Masters of Choreography
Beats on Pointe
© Masters of Choreography

Although bouts of ballet and the key ingredients of street (b-boy, locking and popping) were prevalent, the show encompassed much more besides, with commercial, pop, disco, beat box, Stomp-style drumming, contemporary, gymnastic flik flaks, singing and humour all in the theatrical mix. It seems that Aussies have no truck with superstition and these thirteen performers – the programme aptly describes them as dance athletes – gave their all in two hours of hi-octane energy. There was little subtlety and a ballet master would certainly have some issues with inevitable rough edges around the classical technique, especially at this speed of delivery, but there is no denying that this was a show with pacy momentum, sassy sex appeal and a great sense of fun. If ballet in yellow, pink and peach bra tops is your thing, then look no further!

<i>Beats on Pointe</i> © Masters of Choreography
Beats on Pointe
© Masters of Choreography

That said, the first act took awhile to get into its stride and an opening number, representing a contest between the ballet and street dancers, judged Strictly style with a number held aloft, didn’t particularly engage the audience despite the addition of Trocadero-style physical humour as the female ballet dancers were joined by Brodie Chesher sporting a pink tutu. When the opening act ended abruptly, the show thus far had been mostly disappointing but that was because the best was still to come. The post-interval opening medley of diverse dance numbers was to a tremendous soundtrack of vintage pop, from Michael Jackson to Earth, Wind and Fire and including what surely must be a world first in classical ballet being choreographed to Eminem. This roller-coaster ride of eclectic dance fusions to familiar songs was both seductive and infectious; a viral effect that brought the desired audience participation through hands clapping and feet tapping.

<i>Beats on Pointe</i> © Masters of Choreography
Beats on Pointe
© Masters of Choreography

The group performed with permanent smiles and tight-knit unison and, although this was very much an ensemble show without featured soloists, some characters demanded attention. The aforementioned Chesher stalked the stage like a diva, lip-syncing for her life on Ru Paul’s Drag Race (a rival for Courtney Act?); Oriana Siew-Kim essayed a Vampira/Mistress of the Dark vibe with her fearsome death stare accompanying street movement that pulsed through her body like electric current; Taylor Diamond-Lord is an outstanding percussionist as well as an excellent b-boy, donning the crash helmet for some required head spins, and bashing the beat on anything from upturned plastic bins to the soles of his fellow performers’ feet.

Anyone on a mission for highbrow culture would be advised to steer clear, but if it’s an extravagant evening of non-stop dance athletics performed by an attractive and vivacious group of dance athletes, and preferably to be enjoyed, post-libation, with a handful of friends then this show will tick all the boxes. And, it is certainly preferable to a night in with StreetDance 3D!



***11