We’re told that a healthy lifestyle prohibits only incest and folk dancing. The risible costumes and staid routines certainly make it hard to see the latter as anything but quaint.
The Lock In sets out to modernise the genre by combining some of the UK’s top clog, sword and Morris dancers with their hiphop dancing counterparts from B-boying, popping and krump. The audience is eased into the dancing by a short set from singer Maz O’Connor and guitarist Matthew Jones. This is a treat as O’Connor has a pure and expressive voice but, as she performs ballads, the set seems out of place in a dance show.
The Lock In is structured more as a theatrical or dance presentation than a concert. It comprises a series of dance duels among the patrons of ‘Ye Olde Fighting Cock’. Initially the integration of dance styles is tentative. The rivals dance to the same beat but retain their own style rather than adopt that of their opponents. The hiphop dancers are highly athletic even acrobatic – spinning, contorting and twisting across the stage. The folk dancing is in the traditional style in which the trunk of the body is immobile and all of the action in the legs and feet.
The integration of the musical styles, from the Demon Barbers folk group with beatbox champion Grace Savage and percussionist Toby Kearney,.is more complete. Folk dancing tends to be driven by the fiddle but in The Lock In percussion and rhythm dominate. There is even a drum solo. You spoil us.
The Lock In is infectious and gets under your skin to the extent you stop analysing and start just enjoying. It is avoids the cultural pretensions of Riverdance and concentrates on displaying the ability of the dancers. The hiphop dancing has a precision that brings to mind modern dance. The noise generated by the clog dancing merges with the music becoming the equivalent of an instrument in itself. The intricate sword dancing is fascinating and the sheer discipline involved has to be admired.
Gradually the dancing styles begin to merge with a stunning sequence of a dancer tumbling through a complex sword dance. By the climax all of the dancers are moving seamlessly together sharing the stage and their styles.
The Lock In might not achieve its lofty ambitions but it is certainly the best night out in town.