Blak whyte gray @ The Barbican Review

Boy Blue first burst onto the scene in 2007 with Pied Piper but they have been grafting since they were in 6th form together in East London, maturing into an important part of the community and nurturing the young talent with their many dance programmes. They are one of the UK’s leading Hip Hop dance companies and they continue to grow.

Blak Whyte Gray

Director Kendrick Sandy  and Composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante  have described this as their most personal show, expressing the issues of young people and the climate we live in today on such a large scale. It is clear from the beginning that there is an entrapment and insecurity felt and this is fused with the costume of white restraining jackets with popping movements. The soundtrack mashes up the call to prayer and hip hop beats, so much imagery can be seen through Whyte; the numbness we feel when we watch the news, countless deaths, bombs, destruction and shooting occurring daily and we are expected to just carry on. Mental health awareness is at its all-time high as our fast-paced lives overwhelm us on our daily trudge.

Mikey J talks openly on how the countless shootings of innocent black Americans and police brutality has affected him. This is clear through Gray which reflects movements of the dancers being replaced just like bullets, bodies can be replaced and not seen as humans but just a number. This show speaks to people to let them know it’s ok to feel pain and to express through whatever medium they can. It’s invigorating watching the dancers on stage as you can feel their pain struggle and heartbeat.

Blak is the awakening, the revival building up one of the bodies whatever he has been through. The ensemble of 8 work together to bring him back to life and wrap him in a red cloth. The cloth is rich in meaning and could possibly allude to Mikey J’s Egyptian decent and history to the river Nile or represent the blood and destruction he has been through, the interpretation is up to you… The movement’s crescendo into a celebration of Ghanian tribal dance as huge white Masks descend from the ceiling. At first, they appear as old white faces, representing colonial power, then the UV lights are turned on and the faces turn into African masks and the dancers have tribal face markings, commemorating history and Mikey J’s Roots.

The celebration is infectious and ripples throughout the audience. You can go and watch this show and just enjoy the amazing dancers and chorography or you can let this experience take over you and reflect on the issues affecting us all. 5/5

Review written by Jessica Andrade.

Blak Whyte Gray is currently showing until Saturday 21st January 2017. For more information on the production, visit here…


Written by Theatrefullstop