Dance review: Beat Ya Feet Kings at Dance Place

By Sarah Halzack
Monday, November 1, 2010; C03

The Beat Ya Feet Kings have no shortage of eye-catching moves in their arsenal. Their Saturday show at Dance Place was packed with the impossibly precise shoulder isolations, robotic torso clicks and high-flying backflips that have become de rigueur for hip-hop troupes.

Though it featured some strong, capable dancers -- not only from Beat Ya Feet Kings, but from guest artists including Syce Game Crew, Flat Out Boyz, Swag Stars and Crazy Legs -- the performance's glaring weak spot was its lack of thoughtful, innovative choreography. Frequently, the performers danced in a line or some other simple formation and executed steps in unison. There was a frustrating absence of interesting spatial patterns, and they rarely strayed from the safety of synchronized group dancing to take on a more complex structure. There's little artful construction that goes into something that basic.

Attempts to add a conceptual layer to the dances fell flat. When the music to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" began playing, the dancers donned Halloween masks, but then removed them within a minute or so. The sound score cut to a different track and the dancers never picked the masks up again, making the gambit seem random and forced. In another piece, one dancer lay face down on the floor while others cautiously, or perhaps fearfully, approached him. Was he dead, hurt or sleeping? It was never clear.

The dance that looked most polished and thought-through was the one just before the finale. Set to a mash-up of songs from artists as varied as Justin Bieber and Jay-Z, this work had more sophisticated composition than the others and seemed to inspire the dancers to ratchet up their energy levels.

Halzack is a freelance writer.

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