Last Christmas dance troupe Flawless appeared in pantomime alongside the Chuckle Brothers.
The Britain’s Got Talent finalists played the Evil Queen’s attendants in Snow White at Mayflower Theatre over in Southampton, and got to know the brothers well during the run. Barrie Chuckle died in August after a fight with cancer.
Marlon ‘Swoosh’ Wallen looks back fondly on the experience.
‘It was fun, and obviously being the Chuckle Brothers, we were watching them from being kids, and then bantering with them on stage, it was great. It was so sad to hear about what happened, we had no idea.’
But being in panto is just one opportunity the street dance crew has seized upon since their big break on BGT in 2009.
They appeared alongside Kylie Minogue for The Queen at the Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace, have made several appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, appeared in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony and collaborated with the English National Ballet.
‘It’s been an amazing time, because just from dance, we’ve been in so many different spaces like that, you know?
‘It allows you to travel, it allows you to meet people, and that’s why we’re excited to go on tour. Some of the areas we’re going to, don’t always get to see an act like us to visit, so it’s good to do this.’
Yes, the band are out on a mammoth 45-date UK tour, revisiting their 2010 show, Chase The Dream.
The crew were founded by choreographer Marlon with business partner Amelia Benoit in 2005, but it was appearing on the hit ITV show that took them to another level. Flawless made the final but were pipped by Susan Boyle and fellow dance team Diversity.
‘We did this show not long after BGT, so this is more like a reboot - we’re bringing it back. It was a great success in 2010, it’s been a request for quite some time, to be honest, so we were looking for the right time to do it.
‘I think we’ve come full circle so it feels like a rebirth to us. There’s a new generation which hasn’t experienced or witnessed Flawless’s career for the past decade – some of them weren’t alive to see it. It’s incredible to be able to reintroduce this show to the older fans, but also to a whole new audience. It’s been amazing just to go through the process of it all.’
And it’s still most of the original dancers.
‘All that’s changed is that we’ve got older,’ Marlon laughs. ‘Some of us have got wives and kids now, it’s just those transitions in terms of life, but in terms of the togetherness, pretty much everyone’s still there, and we’ve got a few new people who’ve joined the cast for the show.’
Given the demanding routines the guys put themselves through, how long can they keep performing at this level of intensity?
‘You’d be surprised, we’ve got a member in our crew who’s in his forties, so anything’s possible, and we’re nurturing the new generation, we’ve got our own dance school, so we’re building up the Mini Mes of Flawless! As a company it’s developed into a brand, really. People want that quality service, so that same mould has been distributed to the next generation and it can have that same feel. When people are booking the Flawless name, they know what they’re getting.’
And as Marlon explain, this expansion was always part of the plan.
‘It was all a dream, we always had this in our 10 year plan, now it’s coming to fruition it’s amazing to see, but we’re still learning, and there’s still more to do. We’re always working ahead, and we’re always trying to develop new directions.
‘When we first came off BGT, we were just recognised as performers, so people would always want a cracking show – “they’re excellent dancers, let’s get them in”. But then over the years, people have realised, actually we’re a brand that can sell a brand, so we’re getting into the area of film, we’re getting into the area of adverts, we’re getting into the area of teaching, and directing and videos and working with video artists, going into schools, giving motivational talks, all these different things we’re doing. It’s so diverse the way we work now.’
And teaching the next generation, particularly at their dance school in London, is something Marlon is passionate about: ‘When we first started this, I came from a background where my family were very concerned, they were like, how can you actually make a career out of dance? Because no-one had done this before, and they were so used to the traditional nine-to-five working person.
‘Now we’ve made it possible, there’s a whole new generation of people interested in getting into dance, but they don’t know how to develop it professionally, and that’s where we come in, and we can guide and lead people on the same path that we took.’
But that’s not to say they take their ongoing success for granted.
‘It’s humbling, and it’s encouraging. The way the media’s designed, it makes you think if you go on a TV show or win a TV show that it’s going to bring you lots of success, and that’s it, you’re sorted - but it really isn’t like that. Coming out of BGT and not winning it, but 10 years down the line, we’re still out here and still going strong and now doing a fresh new tour.’
And this goes right back to the core of what Flawless aims to stand for.
‘With this show, it’s a heartfelt show , it’s called Chase The Dream, and that’s always been our motto, our passion, our driving force to get us where we are today.
‘And over the years we’ve realised that doesn’t apply just to dancing and Flawless, it applies to anyone, worldwide.
‘You could be passionate about something, but the distractions you face in life – whether it’s responsibilities, work commitments, bills – it’s the real life problems we face from day-to-day, put you off.
‘This show’s not just tailored for dancers, it’s tailored for all ages, for families, the person who wants to become a musician or be a lawyer, and they’re stuck in a job that’s not taking them where they want to go.
‘Chase The Dream does what it says on the tin, you get an emotional rollercoaster journey – you’re going to be excited, you’re going to be sad, you’re going to be blown away, and most importantly you’re going to feel like you’re a part of the show.
‘And that’s one of our key things – we don’t want spectators, we want people to feel it, and be in it, that’s really important to us.’
Flawless Presents Chase The Dream is at The Kings Theatre, Southsea on Sunday, September 30, doors 6.30pm Tickets £25. Go to kingsportsmouth.co.uk.