Dance review: Blak Whyte Gray

Edinburgh Interantional Festival: There are moments of synchronised movement in Blak Whyte Gray that thrill you to the core, jumps and tumbles that excite, and popping, locking and krump so precise it hits every beat accompanying it.

Royal Lyceum Theatre


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All of which would be a wonder in itself – but with London-based hip hop company Boy Blue Entertainment, it’s only half the story.

This is a work created for the theatre, not the street corner, and the depth of feeling these remarkable dancers pour into every step, and the imagination injected into every aspect of the staging, is astounding.

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In the opening piece, Whyte, we see them constricted by an invisible force, moving like puppets beholden to an unseen master.

Company co-founder Michael Asante conceived this powerful show, and composed its equally powerful score. Conversations with his father about their African heritage, which dates back to Egypt and the Nile, prompted Asante to think again about whose history is taught in schools.

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We see the result of that in Gray, the second piece in the triple bill, where the river is depicted by a long red cloth, wrapped around a central character whose painted face and body matches a row of masks that descend from above, all lit up in tribal glory by fluorescent light.

It leads to one of the show’s most arresting moments, with tiny spots of light shining across the stage as a dancer stands alone in the spotlight, arms stretched wide.

Indeed, Lee Curran’s beautiful lighting design is a constant companion to Kenrick Sandy’s compelling choreography. Dancers are framed by boxes of light or move on a sea of juddering lines that give the illusion that the entire stage is shaking.

If Whyte saw the dancers constrained by colonialism, and Gray explored the history that preceded it, Blak is a time of hard-won liberation, with pleasure eventually finding its way into every step. A triumph from start to finish.

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Until tomorrow. Today 7:30pm.