Festival Dance

Project R.E.B.E.L

Castlebrae Community High School

Mary Brennan

five stars

A WISE venue knows that an audience’s experience begins the moment they arrive in the foyer, so full marks to the Front of House team (and indeed the backstage crew) at Castlebrae Community High School for making their gym hall into such a smoothly operating pop-up addition to the Festival’s roster of theatre spaces.

On-stage, as part of Project R.E.B.E.L, were members of Boy Blue Entertainment (BBE), whose bravura style of hip hop had already wowed those who had seen Blak Whyte Gray at the Lyceum.

There was absolutely no dilution of style or content with this companion piece: if anything, on a smaller stage and in a more intimate setting the similar themes of finding your own identity, often in the face of opposition, were driven home as powerfully as the thundering rhythms that shook the floor under our feet. A dozen young dancers channeled the split-second changes of direction that make hip hop so challenging to perform, so thrilling to watch, because there’s a defiance of regimentation – but only for as long as the choreography (by Kenrick Sandy) is asserting individuality. Those same, precisely articulated moves can, and do, close ranks into a forceful unity when the beat (composed by Michael Asante) becomes a rallying call for solidarity in action.

If this was a further instance of how BBE are using hip hop to explore social tensions and cultural identity, Project R.E.B.E.L was also the culmination of a special relationship between the Festival and the students at Castlebrae. A relationship forged across creative workshops and mentoring of skills, from lockin’ and poppin’ with Boy Blue, to setting up and running a welcoming venue from scratch. Impressive? Memorably so.