Hailed as the 2013 Brisbane Festival’s biggest coup, Freeze Frame’s final performance not only received ahearty standing ovation from the audience but played to a full house.
Director, writer and choreographer Debbie Allen portrays Los Angeles’ virulent gun violence, poverty, gangs and drugs through a dynamic mix of characters and a high-powered series of dance, song and drama scenes.
Heralded by strident gunfire that rang out across the theatre, a chilling opening video grabbed the audience’s attention. The footage showed an armed robbery at a convenience store that ends in dire consequences. As the picture dramatically dissolves into the background the audience is taken on a roller-coaster ride through the tough streets of LA where kids are forced, through circumstances outside of their control, to live with the threat of guns, gangs and challenging home lives.
Ms Allen, legendary dancer and three-time Emmy award-winning choreographer, collaborated with Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Noel Staunton to bring the world premiere of Freeze Frame to Brisbane during this year’s festival.
The dance theatre production featured a cast gleaned from the finest ranks of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in LA with performers ranging in age and physicality- the youngest being just eight. The free program bore further testimony to the cast members’ professional backgrounds and impressive training.
Yet, despite the brave storyline, the result of Freeze Frame is just a series of evocative accounts and emotions, which could have been explored further in order to fully express the ideas Debbie Allen sought to portray. However, the storyline was the only aspect of Freeze Frame that falls short.
The dancing was sassy, energetic, and sharp. Moves were executed with attitude and verve and the dancers effortlessly moved between styles that included hip-hop, tap, jazz and contemporary. An all too brief, slick aerial performance further affirmed the cast’s inherent versatility.
Twenty-two time Grammy Award winner, Stevie Wonder and Oscar nominated producer/songwriter, James Ingram, worked alongside Debbie Allen in producing a standout musical score that moved seamlessly between R&B, lyrical rap and infectious gospel singing.
And Australian set designer, Michael Scott-Mitchell devised a sleek, elegant set. Its curved white walkway and semi-circular screen offset and complimented fellow Australian Mic Gruchy’s arresting, gritty projections.
Storyline shortcomings aside, Brisbane should be proud that it hosted the world premiere of Freeze Frame.
A coup? Indeed!
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