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Review of Streets Ahead Dance Academy's Don't Stop The Beat at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

A Small Mind was fully busting his hip hop moves at the Royal & Derngate last night. However thankfully is was all in his head rather than some kind of fit on the stage of the Derngate.

Thankfully for the audience for Streets Ahead's Don't Stop The Beat! the dancing was much more impressive on stage. Predominantly hip hop, but with elements of contemporary and tap, it all provided a quite breathless night of entertainment.

Breathless must indeed have been perfect summing up for the performers, especially the much older advanced group of dances, as they were hardly off stage during the near three hour show. Indeed courtesy of some dramatic quick changing that must have been going on behind stage, they occasionally ran off one side and with a brief period of darkness returned from the other side wearing something else and straight back into the next routine.

Routines covered a multitude of songs, although personally many of them to music that only serves its existence for hip hop dancing to. Swerving from what rather alarmingly sounded like explicit rap to Let It Go from Frozen could only be expressed as surprising. However when music and dance on the bill includes Thriller and The Little Shop Of Horrors, I offer little complaint.

Thriller was an absolutely great performance from some of the younger dancers and offered the unique chance to see one of the young lady zombies brush her hair back into place while pretending to be a zombie. You would never get that on The Walking Dead. As for Little Shop, a similar aged group all dressed as Seymour and one plant, short straw there, was great fun. We had other film tunes including a band of Minions and a crowd favourite Ice Age number.

The older performers were of course technically superior, however that is the wonder of these shows and those of the NMPAT ones, that you can see the evolution of the performers as long as they stick with it. There was as always a huge lean towards female performers over male, so much so that of the advanced group, the only male performer was Edward. He did however have to constantly be in the presence of young ladies, so its odd that there is not more interest in joining these groups. One day soon maybe it will be cool to dance again, well, as long as you have talent and are not a gangling mess of limbs.

Other rountines included a cool Chicago number, as well as the required Don't Stop The Beat number from Hairspray, splendidly featuring the aforementioned Edward gamely in a dress. I also loved the poignant number dedicated to the mothers of the performers. Thankfully there was not a father one or my invented child would have been exposed as being a figment of my imagination. Referring to this, it is a great shame that it always seems rather obvious at these shows that it is really a near total percentage of family and friends in the audience as these fun shows deserve to be seen by a wider audience.

My only reservation from the show was the awkward, pointless and really rather preachy singing part. I never really like seeing children being effectively used to prove a political point and it was technically poor as well, so it all felt rather hollow. More dance should have been of the order.

Thankfully in acts like the Fun Dance School one, the kids were allowed to be kids and have fun, with one young lady stealing the show in particular by either not wanting to dance or possibly just overcome by the whole situation.

Don't Stop The Beat was an excellent full night of entertainment which offered little to criticise other than the absolute devastation that the audience left in their wake. Come on guys, when did it become socially acceptable to leave so much litter behind at the theatre? However great show, very well supported and if you get the chance in the future, do go to see something of its ilk.

Performance reviewed: Monday 15th February, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Don't Stop The Beat was a one of event organised by Streets Ahead Dance Academy. For further details see their website at http://streetzahead.com/

Details of Royal & Derngate can be found by visiting their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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