Rock The Ballet
06/06/2012 - 10/06/2012
12/06/2012 - 16/06/2012
Rasta Thomas’ Rock the Ballet is a fusion of classic ballet technique blended with the excitement of musical theatre, hip hop, ballet, tap, contemporary, gymnastics and more, and features a stellar soundtrack including some of the biggest hits from U2, Michael Jackson, Prince, Queen, Coldplay and Lenny Kravitz. Set against a backdrop of video projected scenery, the show is exciting, fun, fleshy, raunchy powerful, and brilliantly entertaining
“Rasta Thomas has enormous talent and undeniable charisma”, “Excellent dancers”, “Crowd pleasing”
— The New York Times
Founder, Director & Principal Dancer, Rasta Thomas describes Rock the Ballet as “a new type of ballet for the 21st century – we are calling it Pop-Ballet”.
The Rock the Ballet company includes the talents dance of New York Fringe Festival dancer, Michael Keefe, Robbie Nicholson from Broadway’s Music Man, award-winning choreographer and director, Adrienne Canterna-Thomas and So You Think You Can Dance US finalists, Karla Garcia, Jakob Karr, Kameron Bink and Kevin Mylrea.
Versatile and gutsy, these talented performers stretch the bounds of dancing with athletic jumps, endless turns and endearing individuality. Featuring the sensational talents of six Bad Boys and one Pretty Girl, this show will surely get you on your feet and smiling.
Multi award winning Director and Principal Dancer, Rasta Thomas was, in 2001, the first American to become a member of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia and then in 2003 he joined Dance Theatre of Harlem. In 2005, Thomas starred on Broadway in Twyla Tharp’s hit musical, Movin’ Out. Thomas has danced some of the greatest roles ever created by Petipa, Balanchine, Robbins and more. He has been a principal dancer with over 20 professional companies including American Ballet Theater and Japan’s K-Ballet. He has performed at the Academy Awards, danced at the White House and made the film One Last Dance with Patrick Swayze.
“Rock the Ballet is a show that goes way beyond a normal dance company experience… I am amazed by our success…and I am so excited about introducing pop-ballet to New Zealand audiences!” said Rasta Thomas.
“The Bad Boys of Dance strive to free ballet from its prissy aura… The Bad Boys of dance… are proclaiming loud and clear that ballet is sexy, spectacular, and yes, very masculine” The New Yorker
“Absolutely dazzling dancing” Boston Globe
“The Amazing Boys performing in Rock the Ballet are taking Hamburg by storm… Rock the Ballet is a sort of a rejuvenating cure for the ballet that is to include tap-dancing, Hip-Hop, Martial Arts, show and humour”. Hamburger Morgenpost
There are 12 Bad Boys in the touring cast, and two Pretty Girls - they rotate through the tour.
Principals are James Boyd, Joey Arrigo and Shane Ohmer
Performers in Wellington, closing night:
Principal Male Dancer – James Boyd
Female Dancer – Jordan Lombardi
Dancers – Timothy Olson, Alexei Geronimo, Douglas Scott Baum, Joey Arrigo, Carlos Garland
Performers in Auckland, opening night
Principal Male Dancer – Shane Ohmer
Female Dancer – Kirsten Wicklund
Dancers – David Lorenzo, Ryan Carlson, Carlos Garland, Lee Gumba, Chase Madigan
The Bad Boys of Dance (= guilty pleasures)
Review by Raewyn Whyte 13th Jun 2012
The six stunningly well-matched virtuoso twenty-something male dancers of Rock the Ballet (aka The Bad Boys of Dance), make it easy to sit back in your seat, relax and take pleasure in their dancing. And their dancing is the thing in this show – it’s all about the movement. There’s no social commentary, no narrative, nothing profound to come to grips with, just the dancing and their pride and joy in performing with panache.
Theirs is a hybrid form, ballet fused with movement lifted from other forms and styles — gymnastics, hip hop, Broadway jazz, Michael Jackson videos, street dance, and in one of the encores there’s a lick of sizzling salsa tossed in for good measure.
The dancers are highly accomplished and clearly well-schooled. Standing ready for action they are perfectly poised , with long arms relaxed, straight backs standing tall, and all nicely centred. Once in action, every movement is fully finished, from to the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes, no matter where in space the movement takes them. Their timing is letter perfect, and their ensemble work impeccable.
The music is loud, the beat strong and steady, mostly a repertoire of rock anthems from The Black Eyed Peas, U2, Lenny Kravitz, the Dave Mathews Band, Coldplay, Queen, Prince, and Michael Jackson. Surprises are in the mix though — a quick burst of opera from Carmen by Maria Callas sets the scene for six dancing pairs – the Bad Boys plus inflatable plastic “partners”; and Ne Me Quitte Pas by Jacques Brel. The mode is rock video, the dancing working with the rhythms, rather than being illustrative of the lyrics.
In parallel to the music, there’s a continuously changing series of projections on the back cloth which keep your eyes moving. There’s photographs and video footage, animated drawings, abstract patterns and colour fields. Though the sequence seems tangential to the music, and at times seems almost randomly selected, there are significant moments of overlap too – an American flag flies at the start of American Woman, bicycles race in Bicycle Race, a sketched Freddie Mercury sings to the crowd in Bohemian Rhapsody – enough that you realize how carefully chosen it must all be. All credit to William Cusick and his team of contributors and lighting designer Lutin Tanner for tightly integrating the effects achieved.
The pace is pretty much full out all the time, with lots of ensemble work for the six men, starting out in tshirts and jeans, and moving on via jackets with shirt and tie, to bare chests and chinos. Brief solo and duet sections provide glimpses of the special qualities of each individual dancer, especially in the second half of the show when they are thoroughly warmed up, and you start to wish for more of particular individuals – the redhead in a green tshirt (Ryan Carlson) is a particularly luscious mover, and the man with the hint of a mohawk (Carlos Garland) makes a wicked Michael Jackson impersonator, for example.
Also scattered throughout the show are a series of flirty interludes with a coquettish Pretty Girl (Kirsten Wicklund), dressed mostly in short spangly dresses. She gets to dance with a slightly older Bad Boy (Shane Ohmer) a lot, and there’s a loose thread about her really being his girl. [And though they in no way outstrip the virtuosity of the other dancers, they get more stage time, so it seems entirely logical that they are the replacements for the show’s original stars and originators, Rasta Thomas and Adrienne Canterna-Thomas, his wife and the choreographer of the show.]
The nonchalant virtuosity looks so easy it tends to lull the audience, so it’s really not til the very end of the show when the dancers strip down to bare chests and their sweat is revealed that the crowd comes alive – and the Bad Boys really start breaking out their moves. Several encores later, the crowd goes home happy.
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Stunning, if a little shallow
Review by Jennifer Shennan 10th Jun 2012
Well, Rock the Ballet may not rock the ballet, but it certainly rocked the audience. A troupe of six stunningly fit and fine male dancers, and one smiling coquette, sped through almost 30 numbers that drew on a range of dance influences.
Ballet technique is at its most virtuosic, and played for bravura. These guys certainly have a stellar command of all the leaps and turns from the balletic canon, and, as competition award-winning dancers, are in impressive control throughout.
They have the stamina of champion athletes, and the smoothness of hip-hop, lock and pop delivered with lashings of sultry smooch.
There were backing visuals for each item, but strobe lighting revolved to beam at the audience is just a pain in the eyes for a middle-aged dance critic. At least they didn’t resort to dry ice. No need. Their dancing is impressive enough without it.
The performance is delivered with such panache as to please anyone with an ounce of goodwill to be entertained. The choreography though is shallow and repetitive, with all the accent on the moves and little on the meaning.
The music is canned, in a range of hits favouring Michael Jackson. He may only be present as a shadow, but his inspiration is undeniable.
One can only wonder what these fellas would do with the characters and roles of a choreographic repertoire that offered more than just the here and how of dancing.
One very funny number, to Maria Callas singing Bizet’s Carmen, had each man partnering a blow-up party doll. It’s an old cabaret trick but they delivered it wittily well.
I’d love to see these guns dance the killingly slow and sexy sarabandes or chaconnes from the court of Louis XIV. They’d need live music to sort out all the nuances of course, but such choreography would really lower the pulse and raise the temperature.
Michael Jackson was up for it. Why shouldn’t they be?
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OMG did you see that move!
Review by Lyne Pringle 07th Jun 2012
Tuesday – a very cold June night in Wellington – the St James Theatre pumps with rerecorded classic rock and a capacity crowd. Rock! the Ballet indeed, from the word go it is clear that the audience is expected to be vocal, to respond to the gyrations of the ‘sexy’ Bad Boys and to have a fun time.
We do. Ooh ah, amazing, OMG did you see that move! This is actually just the ticket for a deep dark winter night in the Antipodes.
Initially sceptical, especially when blow up sex dolls come out to tango against red- light- flesh –for-sale video projections – huh what are the sexual politics here? – by the end of the show I confess I am enjoying myself. Don’t blame it on the moonlight; Don’t blame it on the good times; Blame it on the boogie. Yes Michael Jackson got me and so did Prince even though they weren’t actually singing. But the compelling rhythms and lyrics make me remember being a 20 something dancing at parties and this is the tone of the evening: party party flash flash one spectacular move after another.
Hip hop, tap, contemporary and acrobatics all make an appearance in the often disjointed ‘for affect’ choreography. These are ‘rip off’ moves like the music but they suit and serve the purpose of the show. A couple of sequences mostly the more reflective moments work for me choreographically, in particular the Ne Me Quitte Pas dance. I would say though that it is a clever show the way it integrates elements under the ballet umbrella, remaining true to the intention of the show.
The dancers have a WOW factor and it is intriguing to see the mishmash of forms layered onto pretty marvellous classical technique. They are very good; handsome, lithe, athletic and accomplished with on stage charisma and commitment to burn. One chick dances she is named ‘Pretty Girl’ huh? On the night I attended Jordan Lombardi took this role and she was fresh, chirpy, cheeky and great to watch. (I wonder can she develope or battment to touch her ear or nose with her left leg as well – just a small quibble)
After the blow up doll sequence I was apprehensive about how the 6 ‘bad boys 1 ‘pretty girl’ dynamic would play out but this was handled quite nicely with some playful and tender interactions between the sexes.
James Boyd takes a lead part and his presence really grows on me, by the end I was picking up the humour and nuance in his performance as well as the excellent execution. He is great and like the other dancers exudes a palpable generosity to the audience. You get the sense these dancers find true enjoyment in their performance.
A star of the show is the projections from an accomplished team under the design of William Cusick – in particular the Bohemian Rhapsody – yes Queen too – really kicks! The choreography here is not bad either.
After 50,000 pirouettes, leaps that caress the upper reaches, leg moves that defy logic, countless channelling MJ moments and a decent amount of shirt off, sweat glistening, let me take you home time with the ‘Bad Boys’ we all move out into the night which seems a little less dark and cold.
A lively entertaining world that is fun to visit.
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