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Blazing trails in street dance

The hottest breakdancers set to burn on the Bangkok stage.

Publication Date : 24-07-2012


Taking the dance and theatre world by storm is "Blaze", the sensational street dance show. It's a multimedia spectacle and non-stop dance show that showcases the awe-inspiring talents of 16 of the best street-dancers and breakdancers from around the world.

They are teamed with a director, choreographers and technical wizards who have worked with everyone from Madonna to the Rolling Stones. And they'll be at the Thailand Cultural Centre for two shows on September 14 and 15 as part of Bangkok's International Festival of Dance and Music.

The production is directed by Anthony van Laast, who has worked on productions like "Mamma Mia", "Sister Act", "Siegfried and Roy" and "Batman Live". He is passionate about this global dance craze, seeing it not as a passing fad but as a future mainstay.

"Street-dance is the true contemporary dance of the 21st century," he says.

Collaborating with him are some of the top young street-dance choreographers of the moment: Mike Song, Lyle Beniga and Kenny Wormald from the US, and Chris Baldock from the UK. The director carefully handpicked each choreographer for being the master of a particular style.

"With each choreographer comes a wealth of dance experience. They all have diverse backgrounds and specialist skills and talents, so it's a real melting pot of global creativity," van Laast says.

Wormald, who has worked with pop stars such as Justin Timberlake and Madonna, adds: "If you like dancing and music you have to see 'Blaze'. It's a fusion of all the styles of hip-hop, which makes it an amazing show."

Since regular dance academies do not breed street-dance talent, the "Blaze" cast is based on the principle of permanent auditions in every country where the show is on tour. This means that the company is permanently renewing and rejuvenating.

Often those auditions see hundreds of fresh talents try out for a place in the show, leading to a combination of 16 talents, sometimes including celebrities such as Tommy Franzen and Lizzie Gough, finalists on the BBC's "So You Think You Can Dance" competition, and world champion B-boy Neguin from Brazil.

The set was designed by Es Devlin. He is best known for creating atmospheric stage designs for the likes of Kanye West, Mika, Lady Gaga and Lenny Kravitz. With a light design by Patrick Woodroffe, who has worked on high-tech spectacles for the late "king of pop" Michael Jackson, it's bound to be a big, brilliant night out.

The set is actually based on the bedroom of the director's teenage daughter. Piled high with untidy drawers, the set is designed to reflect the lifestyle of many street-dancers - chaotic, changeable and fun. But it also serves double duty as a canvas for the video and light show and a point of interaction for the dancers.

"Blaze" opened in London in 2010 to big crowds, passionate responses and rave reviews.

Since that sold-out run in London, the production has blazed trails from Europe all the way to South Africa, China and New Zealand.

Wherever they've gone the production has notched up sterling reviews with Ballet magazine calling the dancers "an exceptional ensemble of world-class performers" and the Financial Times noting, "'Blaze' is the most blissfully energetic, sassy, to hell-with-everything-except-street-dance show. "

The embassy of the netherlands sponsors the production in Thailand.

Bangkok's International Festival of Dance and Music is sponsored by Bangkok Bank, B Grimm, Dusit Thani Bangkok, Nation Multimedia Group, Nivea, SCG, Thai Airways International, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Singha and Toyota Motor Thailand.


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