ROCK THE BALLET REVIEW By Emma BellHere is DanceLife’s second review of Rock The Ballet by Emma Bell.Rock the Ballet conjured up for me, a mix of rock music and ballet. This show, however, was something quite different – exciting and innovative, but not what I anticipated.
Surprisingly, Act I was not a crowd-stopper. A big screen acted as a back-drop displaying images, animation and graphics throughout the show, some people may have found this distracting – I was neutral. The cast was comprised of six highly talented, highly skilled male dancers who performed the entire act in jeans and t-shirts and one female dancer, who came out in a Balanchine-esque tutu for a few minutes which had me hopeful that this production might develop into something more balletic, but it didn’t. All the dancers were barefoot – a far cry from ballet protocol.
The choreography was mainly contemporary, married with balletic highlights and mixed with acrobatics and jazz. The choreography remained fairly erratic even when the music slowed. I was waiting for some light and shade – a seamless, lyrical adage perhaps? The closest to that was a beautifully executed pas de deux between husband and wife team Rasta Thomas and Adrienne Canterna-Thomas to ‘Faithfully’ by 80’s band, Journey.
Then – Lock up your wives! Act II arrives and these men are on fire! This is where the real action starts, opening with the dancers in silhouette against a screen backdrop. The second half of this show goes off! The dancers ramp up the collective energy and the audience is ‘wowed’. Act II features all the rock favourites of Michael Jackson, Queen, U2 and more. The vibe was so ‘hot’ I was wondering why these male dancers’ shirts had not come off earlier!
Individually the six male dancers were consummate performers, as a group sometimes they lacked timing which I was a bit surprised to see and the one female performer offered a nice change in dynamic but didn’t add value to the performance. I felt this show either needed more female dancers to balance the pack and create some beautiful pas de deux or perhaps some pas de trois or it should have been kept as a strictly all-male spectacle.
The stand-out by far was lead male dancer and founder Rasta Thomas, oozing with charisma and gravitas this man had us in the palm of his hand, technically brilliant, emotionally passionate, he exudes pure magnetism.
I had decided not to read the marketing collateral and background information and instead just turn up and be ‘wowed’ by a night of classical dance to rock beats. My perception and assumption was that ‘Rock the Ballet’ would meld the sophisticated, clean lines of classical ballet for example Balanchine-inspired choreography with minimalist costumes, svelte physiques and girls in pointe shoes all juxtaposed with the beats of rock and pop music. Not in this production however – it was an all – male cast apart from one female dancer and not a pointe shoe in sight.
My expectations were met by this show in a style quite different to what I’d anticipated, this is a captivating show not to be missed by any dance lover.
This high-energy production could be the catalyst for a new era of ballet. Ballet for a new generation -vamped up, ramped up and ‘sexed’ up! Ballet that Rocks!
Emma Bell
Emma is a writer, reviewer and interviewer and can be found at