STAGE REVIEW: Freestylers – Everybody With Me, Always @ BALTIC (12.11.21) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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For two days, BALTIC art gallery became home to the performance collective Freestylers, who transformed the first floor exhibition space into an interactive performance venue built for dancing in every style.

It all began with a celebration of ballroom, encouraging the audience to gather round and form the sides of a runway. The Freestylers danced, strutted and bathed in the applause as they shared the essence of Queer culture. This set the tone perfectly, as the audience was frequently expected to physically engage with the performance, getting up to dance, vogue and sing.

Spliced throughout the show, video clips portrayed how this entire project had started… by walking. Showing footage of the conversations had throughout their lockdown outdoor exercise time, Freestylers gave the audience insight into their fears, their experiences of death and the sense of place they’ve found together.

There were intense moments of silent performance, of mother and daughter choreography, and the first time that one of the Freestylers had performed solo. Entering the stage, chanting the words that has last been heard in a video clip from moments before, “Power in the name of Ice-cream” a young women stepped out in an ice-cream-shaped costume and began to dance.

Ending a show that doesn’t have a clear story is difficult, which is why the group called upon the audience to help them. Asking everyone to move together, to help each other and huddle close, the final sequence was a short journey through the space and out of their hand-made archway.

It was strange, in an era where close proximity and physical contact are rare, to experience a performance where those elements are key. If you are little uncomfortable with the closeness and touching, then this one was maybe a little bit tricky.

It is clear that this show was the culmination of the entire group’s development, both individually, and as a whole. From hip-hop to slow interpretive dance, the unique styles of each performer was showcased. They explored who they were, celebrated who they are and looked forward to where they are going next.

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