Brooklyn-based Flex Ave performed on Friday night at The Egg.
No matter what style of dance one practices, bad choreography will defeat the dancer every time.
That sums up what happened on Friday night at The Egg where a crew of decent dancers with potential were marooned by amateur choreography.
Flex Ave, an ensemble of flexing or bone-breaking dancers from Brooklyn, is made up of styling street dancers that can bust some astounding moves with individual flair. But paired with literal choreography by Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray and Corey “Gutta” Batts, which directly express the music as opposed to enhancing it, wrung out Flex Ave’s capabilities early on.
The beginning was promising, however. A dancer in a spotlight glides along on the tips of his sneakers like a ballerina en pointe. His grace was prodigious and captivating. But the eye was pulled from him as the light rose up to reveal other dancers engaged in street play – jump rope, hop scotch and dice – casting them in an urban environment where the dance was born.
Much of what followed was aimless – well-executed moves that did not spin a thread of emotion or narrative to coalesce the one-hour show.
There was one section on suicide that I found rattling and powerful. It was set to rap music that spoke the point of view of the one who takes his life and then the one left behind. The lyric told the tale, thus all the dancer had to do was express the despair, anger and grief – which street dance can do well. But the dancers were boxed in by plainly dancing out the lyric – a missed opportunity.
I couldn’t help but think about Rennie Harris, the first to put urban American street dance on stage. His genius was leading break dancers beyond the wow factor and into territory that could speak to all humankind. His stories from the streets spoke of love, joy, generosity, want, hatred and agony.
Flex Ave can’t touch Harris’ artistry. But because Flex Ave’s dancers have the moves – including ones that look like arms are broken or detached (this was difficult to watch) – I think they can get closer to attaining that.
The point is for Flex Ave to stop gliding along the surface, to go deeper into their vulnerabilities. Honesty from the artist is the place where connection is made. It can’t be forged with power moves alone (which are thrilling, but hollow).
Show me the person behind the move and then the move will not only make more sense, it will enrapture me.