‘Watch out for flying skateboards!’ came the warning as the lights dimmed for the show** to start.
Jed glanced at me in alarm. To be real, there were skateboards and a whole lot more flying through the air in ISH Dance Collective’s Elements of Freestyle, but we were never in any danger. Although my heart was in my mouth for much of the evening.
Elements of Freestyle is a whirlwind spectacle of urban sports, showcasing b-boying, BMX, freerunning, skateboarding, inline skating, and freestyle basketball. Men twisting their bodies into impossible positions, rebounding from walls, pirouetting on wheels, somersaulting off tall structures. It is exhilarating. It is terrifying. At one point, I asked Jed the time and he showed me 8PM blinking from his watch. Half an hour to go. Ok mama, brace yourself.
I didn’t want this show to end, but I was glad it was only an hour long. I’m not sure I could handle more palpitations. As a mother of boys, all I could think about was what these men must have been like as kids. What their parents must have endured as they tested the boundaries of space and gravity. And how proud they must feel to see their sons become true artists, thrilling audiences worldwide.
Because it’s the artistry of urban sports that takes centre stage in Elements of Freestyle. The collective aren’t just here to show you their tricks and skills. They’re here to convince you that dance has no limits. You can dance with a ball, on a bike, on a tiny set of blades. You can throw hip hop shapes more fluid than ballet or make parkour look like a horizontal tap dance. The choreography is so tight that I was amazed to hear (from one of the performers after the show) that it only took 6 weeks to put this piece together.
It’s all performed to a pumping soundtrack with live music from a violinist and a cellist at either side of the stage. The musicians are badasses too, especially for making classical strings sound like electric guitar!
I can’t pick a highlight from Elements of Freestyle because I loved it all. Jed and I turned to look at each other so often, I thought our necks might snap. And I heard myself say ‘Woah!’ so many times, I felt like a Keanu Reeves meme.
Elements of Freestyle is easily the coolest show in town right now. Take your big kids (and maybe some chill pills) and prepare to be blown away.
ISH Dance Collective: Elements of Freestyle is at Peacock Theatre (Sadler’s Wells), Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT (Holborn tube). Ages 5+ (younger ones not admitted). 7.30pm (Tue-Sat), 2.30pm (Sat) & 2pm (Sun); from £18 (until Apr 23)