Rock the Ballet
1 June 2010, State Theatre, Melbourne
Rasta Thomas's Rock The Ballet kicked off the Australian leg of its international tour in Melbourne on Tuesday 1 June to a packed audience at the State Theatre.
Top 40 hits blared through the speakers as punters took their seats, setting the mood for a ballet show like no other. It seems that in recent times ballet is unfortunately viewed as a dying artform that has lost touch with today’s youth. However, Thomas has found the perfect recipe to inject fun back into the ballet and make dance exciting once more.
The opening chords of "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas pumped through the theatre as the small, five-piece, all-male dance ensemble emerged, beckoning the audience to clap, sing and dance along with them. Forget The Nutcracker - we were all set for a party.
Opening night jitters seemed to have overcome the dancers' confidence as at many times the movements and formations were out of sync, unfortunately making for a disappointing opening number.
As soon as Rasta Thomas entered for the second routine, performed to U2’s "Vertigo", the vibe lifted tenfold and I instantly understood why Rock The Ballet is so critically acclaimed.
Thomas is the principal dancer, director and man responsible for the whole show. He is simply mesmerising to watch. His onstage presence was so dynamic that I simply could not tear my eyes away from his succinct and fluid movements.
Each dance step flowed into one continuous sequence that made it look like Thomas had mastered dancing before he learnt to walk.
It wasn’t until "American Woman" by Lenny Kravitz began that we were introduced to Adrienne Canterna-Thomas, the choreographer and only female dancer in the troupe.
The onstage chemistry between Canterna-Thomas and Thomas was simply beautiful to witness. Canterna-Thomas’s choreography followed the technicality of ballet, yet allowed the dancers to inject their own personal style into the movements.
Routines alternated between fusions of ballet with styles such as hip-hop, jazz and even breakdancing.
Between acts I remember wondering if the cast could possibly outdo such a dynamic first act. If anything, however, the second act tripled the intensity of the first and literally left the audience speechless.
Who knew that ballet and gymnastics could merge to create such an entertaining and exciting dance form? Thomas spun, leaped and flipped through the second half with such ease and grace that I started to wonder if there is anything this man can’t do.
A definite highlight was the routine to Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody", which fittingly closed the second act and was just as eccentric and quirky as the song they were dancing to. It truly was a credit to Canterna-Thomas’ incredible choreographic skills.
Needless to say the final number left the audience demanding more, a request that the ensemble had no hesitation granting - twice - firstly with Michael Jackson’s "Bad", which was swiftly followed with a seductive routine to "I’m Too Sexy", which was very Man Power-esque.
The sight of the cast channeling Jacob from Twilight with their bared chests left the women in the audience stunned and squealing with delight. The phenomenal cast exited the stage to a standing ovation, marking the comeback of dance to mainstream entertainment.
5 stars out of 5.
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