Seven dancers—six male and one female—high kick, pirouette and back flip their way around the stage at Assembly Hall, accompanied by the booming basslines of 'Billy Jean', 'We Will Rock You', 'I'm Too Sexy' and a handful of other high energy pop hits. Rock the Ballet, featuring New York dance troupe the Bad Boys of Dance, is a slick and sexy show, and one that feels carefully tailored to meet the desires of its overexcited (and mostly female) audience.
The jukebox soundtrack, which relies heavily on Michael Jackson medleys, makes for a mood reminiscent of the early pop-video era. But the lack of live music feels like a missed trick; even a small band would have added some much-needed depth to this glitter ball of a show. There are some witty moments on offer—its only classical number, which sees the company partnered by blow-up dolls, is a highlight—but this is largely a one-dimensional show.
The company are a talented bunch and it's a pleasure to watch professionals of this calibre in action, but ultimately Rock the Ballet feels like a cynical exercise in sexing up ballet and contemporary dance. The glistening torsos, wide smiles and sultry glances are pretty to look at, but behind the pumping bass and flashing lights, there's little real substance to this show.