It was unfortunate that so few were present to enjoy Bad Boys of Dance in their one-night-only appearance Thursday at Carmel’s Palladium, as they performed in front of a house that was barely half full. Dance fans especially would have loved seeing this hot, sexy, athletic and in many ways revolutionary company perform.
The company, making a name for itself with a fresh approach and appeal to young audiences, debuted in 2007 at the prestigious American Dance Festival’s Jacob’s Pillow and has become known for pushing the boundaries of dance.
Founded by major dance star Rasta Thomas, artistic director of Bad Boys of Dance, they perform more than 150 shows a year all over the world. Having appeared on hit TV shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, they have been seen by millions.
The choreography (mostly by Thomas’ wife and company dancer, Adrienne Canterna-Thomas) for this concert incorporated elements of ballet, contemporary, jazz, modern, hip-hop and street. Meant to showcase male dancing, it constantly tested the amazing talents of the six men and two women in the troupe.
The often flirtatious dancers, each of whom possessed attractive looks, dynamic personalities and limitless energy, demonstrated amazing versatility as they effortlessly changed from one style to the next.
They thrilled the crowd with their nonstop jumps, leaps, turns, jazz hands, acrobatics and even break-dancing pop-and-lock maneuvers, performing on a Palladium stage that was outfitted with a temporary black curtain that served as a backdrop.
The 90-minute program, with intermission, consisted of Act I, titled Beautiful Day, and Act 2, which was called Rock You. The concert also had the added attraction of the dancers performing to the music of acclaimed artists and groups such as U2, The Black Eyed Peas, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, Journey, Queen, Michael Jackson, Prince and others.
Shane Ohmer, who has extensive ballet credits and is a sometimes runway model (as evidenced by his tall stature and photogenic looks) was a standout as a featured dancer. His passionate duets with Alicia Whitehead-Canterna as they danced to U2’s With or Without You and Jacque Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas were stunning. They revealed not only his impeccable technique but also his ability to connect emotionally to the audience.
Michael Jackson surely would have loved the affectionate tribute he was given by dancers James Boyd, Ryan Carlson and Lee Gumbs. Referencing some of Jackson’s most distinctive moves, they separately captured the King of Pop’s very essence, dancing to some of his hits, which included Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, Man in the Mirror and The Way You Make Me Feel.
Reinforcing its reputation for not taking itself too seriously, the company showed its comic side as the six men, each paired with a naked plastic blow-up doll, danced to Maria Callas singing Carmen. It was a sight gag that was as hilariously absurd as it was clever in its conception and execution.
Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which accompanied one of Canterna-Thomas’ most distinctive pieces of the evening. and which concluded the program, once again featured the men. Lip synching the song’s iconic lyrics at one point, they joined hands as they moved in circular patterns under a spotlight, keeping straight faces throughout. The overall effect was one of tongue-in cheek camp.
After company bows, the men, with chests bared, reinforced their brand and “We’re trouble” image by playfully sneering at the audience as they sang Michael Jackson’s Bad.
For tickets and information regarding upcoming 2011-12 season performances at the Center for the Performing Arts, call (317) 843-3800 or visit www.thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.