Keep Dancing

The New Alexandra Theatre

***

BILLED as The Ballroom Dance Sensation, the production promised to be peppered with celebrity appearances and dancing from the television show, Strictly Come Dancing.

Many of the audience were big fans of the programme and it was only right that excitement filled the air at a chance to to see regular dancers such as Robin Windsor and Anya Garnis take to the stage to dance live. Director and Choreographer Emma Rogers knew exactly how to entertain audiences with the best of performers.

The star of the night was 2012 Strictly winner and Olympian Louis Smith. The audience were impressed by his acrobatic skill and commitment to dancing. In fact, the performance felt more like a concert rather than a dance performance at times.

This fuelled the party atmosphere and it seemed that the audience had a great time. He was not always art of the main performance, which was slightly disappointing, considering that his appearance was the ‘main attraction’. After a succession of musical numbers, sung by a trio of vocalists, Smith erupted on to the stage to the delight of the audience, only to leave again and enter only in short bursts.

It was a shame that there was no live band to accompany the striking dancers. Each dance was performed with the accompaniment of backing tracks and sung by Lisa-Marie Holmes, Harriette Virginia Mullen and Adam Warmington. They carried each song well and their vocal talent complimented each other.

The second act was definitely superior todancing pic the first and it entertained us with exciting and lively musical numbers. It started with the Spanish style salsa that blended into the Charleston that later became a disco medley for the final finale.

Act one opened with a Seventies-style disco theme with songs such as Shake Your Groove Thing and You Should be Dancing. If each number was a standalone dance, they would work with impressive execution. Within the context of this show however, it was hard to pick up on the overall story and general atmosphere.

We had no time to appreciate the phenomenal skill that was presented to us, as the transition from one style of dance to the other happened all too quickly. There was no sense of time or place, making it hard for the audience to place the context in order to appreciate the overall mood of each number. For example, a feisty tango number was suddenly overturned by a chorus clad in war costume and vintage dress for the jive.

The set design could have done better to enhance the explosive style of the dancers to create a brilliant atmosphere. A platform at the back was used as the singer’s performance area, but apart from draping with material embellished with glitter, we did not see a stand out background to complement the performance.

Although the execution of each number gave a factor of entertainment, the overall atmosphere felt somewhat contrived. We should not take away the fact that this was a superb showcase of talent through ballroom dance, but fell at the wayside with a lack of structure and story. To 10-12-16

Elizabeth Halpin

06-12-16

 

 

And fresh from the Lambeth Walk . . .

****

EVEN with three stars ‘imported’ from Strictly Come Dancing on board, this lively show can never hope to match the glitz and glamour of the smash hit BBC TV favourite.

You miss the live band, even though vocalists Adam Warmington, Lisa-Marie Holmes and Harriette Mullen sing particularly well to recorded music either supporting the various dance numbers or in occasional solo performances of genuine quality.

Nor does the fairly basic scenery match that on the telly, but the costumes – inevitably pretty skimpy and sexy for the girls – are excellent, although the ladies in the audience clearly enjoy one bare-chested dance by the men led by Robin Windsor.

Robin Windsor, one of the front-liners from Strictly, is clearly proud of his muscular frame, very useful for the many lifts and spins with his TV partner Anya Garnis. The pair are excellent in a range of dances, and there is impressive dancing, too, by Mason Boyce, Aaron Brown, Victoria Burke, Florence Edge, Jordan Hinchlffe, Joshua Moore and Shane Seal.

At times you feel a little more variety in the programme would be welcome, though 2012 Strictly winner, Olympian Louis Smith, does his best with a couple of somersaults and a break-dance-like floor spin that owed much to his gymnastic skills.

One of the high spots after the interval sees Windsor with some of the dancers sitting on the edge of the stage for Applause, an amazingly coordinated high speed hand clapping and thigh slapping piece in which, on opening night, only one man slipped up (twice) – Windsor, much to his, and the audience’s, amusement.

Keep Dancing, directed and choreographed by Emma Rogers, keeps dancing till 10.12.16

Paul Marston 

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