Blak Whyte Gray @ Lyceum

This new piece by Blue Boy Entertainment reveals what dance can be

Review by Roisin O'Brien | 24 Aug 2017

We leave Blak Whyte Gray at a hurried pace, kinetically caught up in the performance. The energy is phenomenal. The dancers, astonishing. And the admiration in the audience is palpable.

In a pre-Festival interview, we asked Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante (one half of Boy Blue Entertainment) if hip-hop loses anything in the theatre; this now seems almost offensive, or at least pointless, in retrospect. The opening, tightly popping sequence, choreographed by Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy, is brought to an electrifying crispness under Lee Curran’s white stage lighting.

This first section is danced in straitjackets, a clutched mobile phone implied here and there. In the second section, the dancers change to baggy khakis, strained triceps in abundance. The style becomes angrier, violent, krumping with shoulder-dislocating throws and leaping press-ups that fly into the air. Guns are loaded and fired, tanks manifest through the rotating and locking of arms. It is a stomping war zone, an angry plight.

The second half leaves more to the viewer. It is warmer, both in lighting and the relationships between the dancers, moving beyond the confrontational mood of the first half. Red appears in a luxury cloak draped over dancer Dickson Mbi, or in the form of UV tribal body paint. The movement has its origins in African dance; smiles appear, the dancers show their enjoyment.

It’s not as tight as the first half, but the audience are completely behind the dancers, and it is impossible to fault their energy. This is what dance can be: driving, moving, angry, unflinching. Unbelievable. 

Blak Whyte Gray, The Lyceum, run ended. Part of Edinburgh International Festival 2017