HOME’s theatre bodes well with crowd interaction, as its deep stage and intimate seating brings an informal energy to its audience. With Blak Whyte Grey, ZooNation and Boy Blue Entertainment bring an immersive experience of hip-hop in a platform that is constantly evolving. Their strong messaging and imposing moves have made ZooNation’s, Into the Hoods the longest running dance show in the West End. While Boy Blue received an Olivier for their show, Pied Piper.
Blak Whyte Gray does not carry a direct story but rather projects compelling themes surrounding identity, inclusion and independence. The performance begins with Whyte, where three restrained dancers are forcibly constricted with straps. Their movement and their institution are immersed by a small white spotlight beaming onto the stage and their pop locking forms freeze in time. Although the dancers stay bound, they have no social connection as they look vacant, as if sedated.
During Gray the dancers bond and expand their movements, shifting from slow horizontal floor slides to krumping in an intense, frantic style. In the group, there is a sense of bonding and support but one fuelled by survival and fear.
Creator’s Kenrick Sandy and Michael Asante end on Blak as an uplifting transformation or restoration takes place. A sense of belonging, protection and support are fully formed through the group. African masks descend from the ceiling as the dancers return to their roots. Connotations of slavery and colonialism emerge as the performance blurs a linear timeline.
The final movements are spontaneous and uninhibited as strength is restored and the cast radiate in the dark. The performers appear in neon body paint as warrior ready survivors. The eight-strong cast all take pride in their final performance, revelling in the synergy of music and dance while conscious of their power and freedom.
It is difficult to review a show that powers a feeling of control and offers its audience therapeutic energy rather than a traditional narrative but dance has a spiritual nature that can heal you through movement. Blak Whyte Gray will leave you with a sense of unabashed empowerment as its connecting themes of identity and independence radiate out into the audience.