Douglas Kirkland

Freeze Frame to slick and sharp dance moves

THE name Debbie Allen is enough to draw anyone from the dance world.

The fact the three-time Emmy award-winning choreographer and So You Think You Can Dance choreographer (also Jackson's mum in Grey's Anatomy), chose Brisbane to unveil a world premiere performance is a wonderful nod to the river city's September festival.

The show is set in one of Los Angeles' toughest neighbourhoods where Allen has based her academy and is invested in helping disadvantaged youths through dance.

After moving to the west coast city for Fame in 1980, her celebrity status rose but her despair and helplessness grew at the daily loss of innocent life from gangs, guns, violence and a vibrant drug culture.

THE Freeze Frame narrative is the worthy story of young people lost and trapped by a zip code.

Though touted as the untold true story of how art, dance and music can transform lives - it unfortunately felt like a story told many times before.

That aside, the slick, sharp dance moves were plenty and spectacular.

The music was inspiring and Matthew Johnson's voice got rave reviews when the lights came on.

Souls melted when Ryan Phuong, 11, Alijah Kai, 8, and Alaman Diadhiou, 12, sang and danced their little hearts out.

When some of the young cast faced off in a dance challenge with the older talent at the opening night after party - they invoked an atmosphere that would have brought the show real zing if it had been on stage too.

The SYTYCD reality show made Allen a household name and brought her incredible ability to tell stories through dance into loungerooms all over the world.

She brought a range of similar genres to this show too - from Bollywood to African dancing, tap, ballet and contemporary, on top of the breath-taking break-dancing and hip-hop moves almost expected from kids growing up on the wrong side of the tracks.

The various styles mostly came through solo vignettes exploring the emotional journey of key characters but it was the group dancing that packed real punch.

Freeze Frame has real potential and is sure to improve with every performance.

Freeze Frame is showing at the Playhouse Theatre as part of the Brisbane Festival until Sunday September 22. There are shows at 2pm and 7.30pm on Saturday and 1pm and 5pm on Sunday.

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