Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Dance Review: Sweet Rasta! Bad Boys of Ballet Rock The Joyce

Rasta Thomas’ ROCK THE BALLET, Photography by Oliver Fantitisch The air of the Joyce Theater is alive with excitement and anticipation for Rasta Thomas’ Rock the Ballet, the new performance featuring his company, The Bad Boys of Ballet.  A wonderful venue for dance, The Joyce also offers the perfect location in the heart of Chelsea for presenting a male dominated dance show to the tunes of popular rock ballads.  Adrienne Canterna-Thomas is the featured female of the evening’s performance, a guest artist from her own company, Pretty Girls of Dance and choreographer of Rock the Ballet.

Only the FIERCE Dancers Apply!  Become a Member of iDANZ Today!The performance begins with the over-played tune of “I Gotta Feeling” by Black-Eyed Peas, dancers entering with jazz runs, beating their shoulders with their hands. The dancers enthusiastically give out energy, adding screams of excitement as if they are the stars of their own rock concerts. 

Act 1: Beautiful Day consists of many well-known popular songs, from U2 to Dave Matthews and even “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz.  Rasta Thomas choreographs a delightful comedic couple dance, with the Bad Boys of Ballet partnering blow-up dolls.  Funny and wittingly entertaining, this is a highlight of the first half.  There is a hint of a story-thread, something to do with a romance between Rasta Thomas and Adrienne Canterna-Thomas, yet it is prematurely developed and predictable. 

Rasta Thomas, Photography by Marty SohlWith graphic video projections by William Cusick, the performance attempts to entertain the modern audience accustomed to high-tech flash imagery.  However, the background screen sometimes upstages the dancing, distracting with its motions and karaoke-styled lyrics display. The choreography is very square, dancers often in a pyramid formation performing hip-hop movements with sporadic ballet trick segments. One would hardly describe the overall performance as balletic, yet it contains a few spectacular glimpses of ballet technique as Rasta prepares for another amazing pirouette/tour jete. The dancing is fun, and incredibly demanding as it fuses gymnastic abilities with the mix of jazz and hip-hop.  As I watch, I could only think about all the concussions the dancers probably  had endured in rehearsals and performances while whacking their legs with those uber-high battements!  Robert Roldan stands out among the Bad Boys with his chameleon expressions and enticing stage personality that draws attention and holds it.

Rasta Thomas & Adrienne Canterna-Thomas, Photo by Oliver FantitischAct 2 is a separate compilation of dances with some fun Michael Jackson songs. The Bad Boys of Ballet show their stellar skills with bravado, their personalities shining.  Adrienne Canterna-Thomas doesn’t do herself justice, jogging offstage with no great finishes to her segments, belittling herself with child-like over-excitement.  I find her two order-by-mail costumes to be unflattering and the men’s white t-shirts and jeans to be boring and disappointing… booooo.  Perhaps they can advertise with The Gap…  The second half, the Boys reappear in silhouette seemingly topless…  (Now we’re talking).  My excitement dissipates when I realize they are actually wearing white wife-beaters with their black pants, a boring though modern look.  Their appearance actually improves as they changed their combination of looks adding jackets, ties and hats for different dance numbers.

So, competition dancers unite!   There is at least one career opportunity for competition dancers aside from “So You Think You Can Dance” with a tour schedule on real concert dance stages where dancers can show all their skills they’ve perfected and trained for years.  Yes, the choreography of this show develops from a competition vocabulary, lacking in substance and depth; however, it is impressive to watch with the array of technical dance stunts. The average audience member is astounded seeing the stunning talent and incredible physical abilities of this troupe. Young dancers of the competition circuit will eat this show alive! 

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Official Dance Review by Lea McGowan Performance: Rasta Thomas’ Rock the Ballet
Choreography: Adrienne Canterna-Thomas
Venue: The Joyce Theater
Performance Date:  December 15, 2009

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