Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: Brazouka at the New Wimbledon Theatre

New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 16th September 2014

Arlene Phillips’ brand new dance show brings a totally fresh style of dance to the stage. Brazouka was born when former Strictly contestant Pamela Stephenson-Connolly came across LambaZouk and fell in love with it. During a trip to Brazil, Stephenson-Connolly - who is the show's writer and producer - discovered other authentic Afro-Brazilian dances which are all incorporated into the energetic piece. 

Brazouka attempts to tell the story of Braz Dos Santos, aka the best freestyle LambaZouk dancer in the world. It's refreshing to see something so different and to learn about the history of the dance at the same time. Bringing a show into a larger theatre such as Wimbledon from the Edinburgh Festival (where Brazouka premiered this year) is a tough task, but at times I felt the stage looked a little empty. The set piece which sits at the back of the stage is impressive, but the overall atmosphere wasn't as busy and vibrant as it could have been. 

The finale is electrifying; I loved the encouragement of audience participation which is clever and goes beyond the usual clapping along - don't worry, it's nothing too complex and is just a bit of fun. With the level of sexiness turned up a notch, the lady sat next to me found herself in her element although it looked like her husband was about to have a mid-life crisis! 

After the show had ended I heard one man say, "I have two left feet and no interest in dance but can respect that those performers are incredibly talented" to his partner who was beaming with pride. Regardless of whether you are a dance fan it is impossible to be unable to respect the astounding talent of the performers. 

Despite being a little rough around the edges, Brazouka is tremendous fun. Brazouka's biggest downfall is that the narration is a little awkward and its formula is too obvious - there is a speech and then a dance... a speech and then a dance, which becomes predictable. Personally I think all the best dance shows keep you on your toes. A live band is also needed to take it to the next level.

I could feel the passion but I wanted to be swept away.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Brazouka runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday 20th September 2014. Please visit for further information and tickets.

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