Huge dance spectacular arrives at the Exhibition Centre in August
Time Out Bahrain staff
We speak to Anthony van Laast, the director of Blaze The Show, one of the UK’s biggest dance shows, before he arrives in Bahrain for a Summer Festival performance.
Blaze The Show has become incredibly successful around the world but where and how did it all begin? It all started six years ago at the kitchen table of producer and friend Eric Holman. I met Eric and his business partner Eymert van Manen working with them on other projects. During dinner I told them about my experience working with these young dancers and the latest dance styles. I was so enthusiastic that they immediately suggested we should make a show based on these new dance styles.
How much work goes into creating a show like this? Developing and producing a show like this takes two years preparation and six to eight weeks rehearsal time. I have seen so many dancers worldwide at competitions, showcases, YouTube videos and auditions to cast the 16 best dancers of this moment who not only are able to show the best dance moves but who are also personalities onstage and are able to entertain a crowd.
The rehearsal process was very exciting as all choreographies were created in a huge hangar in which we built the complete set. Each week a new choreographer flew in and worked with our dancers.
In six weeks we created the show which was an enormous success during its opening weeks at the Sadlers Wells Peacock Theatre and has been enjoying more than 450,000 [spectators] worldwide since opening.
What influences you in the direction of the performances? My biggest influence is the energy and creativity of these young dancers and choreographers.
You have worked as a choreographer on some great projects like Mamma Mia! and Sister Act. How does working on a contemporary street and break dance show compare? In a way working on big musicals and Blaze is comparable in how we approached the project. Blaze is a show with great West End production values. The difference is that these types of dancers do not have the same stage experience that musical dancers have. [They] also need to improvise so we created segments in the show in which that is possible so they don’t feel forced to do the same every night.
How did it feel to be awarded an MBE for dance and choreography? I was very honoured and proud to have been awarded an MBE. It is a recognition of my work. I have been lucky to have been involved in the most prestigious and innovative projects ranging from the Vegas shows of Siegfried & Roy and EFX, which changed the nature of the entertainment in Las Vegas, to the musicals like Mamma Mia! and Sister Act which are enjoying audiences worldwide.
What can we expect from Blaze The Show? Blaze is one of the best dance shows of this moment. It is a theatre show with the energy of a pop concert and the feel of a club night. It has a great set and mind-blowing projections. The show has been created by one of the best creative teams… set design by Es Devlin (Kanye West, Olympic Games and Lady GaGa), light design by Patrick Woodroffe (Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson This is It) and has been choreographed by the seven best choreographers of this moment.
What do you hope the audience takes away from watching a performance? I do hope the audience will have a great night out, touched by the energy and creativity of the 16 international dancers which we bring with us to Bahrain. Blaze is a fun show and in all countries in the world ranging from UK, Russia, France, Australia, the audience danced along in the aisles with a great smile on their faces.
The success of Blaze shows no sign of slowing down. What are the future plans for it? Tours are planned in Hong Kong, Germany, South America, the US and maybe a run in New York. We are [also] working on a new show which will hopefully open in Autumn 2015.
Blaze The Show will be in the Bahrain Exhibition Centre on August 16 and 17 as part of the Bahrain Summer Festival line-up. Visit www.bahrainsummer.bh.