After a not so successful season in London in 2010, Flashdance the musical has been reworked and now has a second chance to wow audiences in a US tour before hitting Broadway later in the year.
A stage version of the 80s cult classic movie, Flashdance tells the story of “Alex”, a steel worker by day and club dancer by night who dreams of being a trained, professional dancer. With a story all about dance, it’s no wonder there are many dance scenes, which was great for this dance lover.
The slogan for the musical is “One girl, one dream, one chance”, but the musical is really about a group of characters and their dreams and aspirations, and it took a huge team to create and successfully get this musical back to the stage. A colorful 80s explosion, Flashdance effectively took us back to the era of leg warmers, MTV music videos, and musical hits like “Maniac” with fitting choreography, sets and costumes.
With everything from ballet, jazz and hip-hop, to even break dance and pole, Flashdance features a wonderfully talented ensemble of versatile dancers. The strength of the dance component was the large ensemble numbers where the dancers were all very neat and committed to every step, oozing 80s pizazz. Sometimes the 80s feel seemed a little forced, but the dancers gave a lot of energy and life to the steps. Many of the dancers probably don’t even remember the 80s! The ballet scenes were also a strong point of the production.
Emily Padgett as ‘Alex’ with the dancers of ‘Flashdance The Musical’. Photo by Kyle Froman
Some of the solo jazz dance numbers by the lead cast left me a little disappointed, however, with bent legs in an aerial cartwheel, a lack of turnout and extension when needed, and hops in pirouette. That said, the lead performers, led by Emily Padgett as ‘Alex’, were all very talented actors and singers. Emily Padgett has a stunning voice and was a joy to listen to. She was very believable as the young, sassy ‘Alex’.
A few scenes were dissatisfying. The iconic, sexy scene where Alex sits on a chair and pulls a chain to shower herself with water, felt rushed and like it was just squashed into the program right before intermission. I was disappointed that this very memorable scene didn’t have more build up or resonance. Sadly, the pivotal final audition scene where Alex dances a jazz number for a panel of judges was poorly staged. The judges were on the side of the stage and Alex danced facing them, instead of facing us in the audience. This made it harder for us to feel engaged by her performance and left the dance number feeling a little flat.
The music is infectious and a feast of 80s classics like “Maniac”, “Manhunt”, “I Like Rock and Roll” and the movie title song “Flashdance- What a Feeling”, and the show is really quite fun and entertaining. Unfortunately though, I wasn’t blown away. I heard mixed reviews from the audience, but I was happy to hear people saying “I want to go dancing now”, as they left the theater. If Flashdance can inspire people to dance, then it’s definitely achieved something that we dancers can’t complain about.
Photo: Emily Padgett as Alex in Flashdance The Musical. Photo by Kyle Froman.
Woodruff Arts Center, 14th Street Playhouse, Atlanta, GA January 18 2013
By Chelsea Thomas.
Atlanta’s Dance Canvas, a respected platform for emerging choreographers, presented its fifth anniversary showcase in mid-January. This Dance Canvas presented the work of nearly ten choreographers and debuted a half a dozen world premieres of various themes and styles, including contemporary dance, tap and ballet.
With both playful and heart-wrenching works, as well as poised and powerful, technical pieces, Dance Canvas’ show offered diverse performances with something for everyone.
Kicking off the evening was Awakening, choreographed by Tracy Vogt, a former dancer with Philadanco who presented Between the Worlds last season. In contrast with her previous work, Awakening was fierce with high-energy jumps, powerful lifts and heavy falls. Unlike last season’s affectionate duet and chorus of breathy lifts and lengthy arabesques, Awakening was focused on no specific dancer and was extremely angular, with arms slicing through the air, torsos clinched in swift turns and legs being thrust into empty space.
Yet, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the work was not the highly demanding choreography or the momentum and focus it required, but the thematic elements it infused through a voice-over questioning humanity’s relationship with time. It asked if given the opportunity, would a person look into the past or the future, their memories or someone else’s. The dancers’ physical responses to these questions were fascinating – driving themselves hard and fast into the ground, into the air or into each other. If somewhat vague in her intentions, Vogt still succeeded in giving viewers a work to ponder once the lights went out.
Dancers performing in Tracy Vogt’s ‘Awakening’ at Dance Canvas’ Fifth Annual Showcase in Atlanta. Photo by Richard Calmes.
Another equally curious work was Enlightenment, choreographed by New Orleans-native Tianna Pourciau Sykes, who is currently on the faculty for Dance Canvas’ programs ARTSCool and Culture Club. The contemporary quartet, built mostly on soft arms and light movements, centered on the idea of knowledge and learning. Dancers would take turns sitting in a chair and reading a book under a lamp before springing forth with new ambition and energy. The overall concept, while universally understood, could have been challenged or deepened. It felt like the work hit a plateau and the un-succinct music mix added to a feeling of disjointedness.
One of the highlights of the night was a surprising duet between dancers Laila Howard and Tre McClendon in Worlds Apart, choreographed by tap dancer Vanessa Chisolm and hip-hop dancer Rachel Kingston. It focused on the issue of homeless in inner city Atlanta, where it is reported that on any given night there are at least 7,000 homeless people seeking shelter and support, according to the 2009 Metro Atlanta Tri-Jurisdictional Collaborative Homeless Census.
In Worlds Apart, Howard and McClendon were just that – outwardly worlds apart. Howard, representing the homeless, was outfitted in rags with her hair in shambles, while McClendon, posed as a modern businessman, was dressed in a fitted suit and nice (tap) shoes. As McClendon played and talked on his cell phone, Howard writhed in destitution as the back screen lit up with real film footage of the homeless in Atlanta. Howard expressed her hopelessness with sporadic, frustrated jumps and by flinging herself at McClendon, who would push her off before segueing into impressive tap solos. In the end, McClendon gave his jacket to her but left without so much as looking back, making a poignant statement on the upper classes’ sometimes lack of compassion in Atlanta.
Dancers performing ‘Winergy’ by Zachery Richardson, a Kennesaw State University student, at Dance Canvas. Photo by Richard Calmes.
Another work that stood out from the rest was Winergy by Zachery Richardson, a Kennesaw State University student whose piece was selected through the university’s choreographic partnership with Dance Canvas. Winergy, set to club-like, electronic beats, pumped out lively, abstract movement consisting of jerky shoulder movements, subtle, humorous gestures and grounded bouncing. The seven dancers wore electric-blue wigs, which they pointedly shook, making this viewer think the piece was about the movement hair makes when put under a blow-dryer.
Angela Harris, Director of Dance Canvas, choreographed a work for the showcase. Muses of Form, presented in part by the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs Emerging Artist Award program, was inspired by Harris’ time at the Louvre in Paris. Set on six ballet dancers, the choreography featured statuesque poses, graceful solos and a touch of Greek elegance. Although the work was somewhat predictable, it had a lovely flow that captured the audience’s full attention.
The last notable work of the evening was (con)version, choreographed by Kassandra Taylor Newberry. Reflecting liberation from society or some lifestyle choice, dancers would sporadically stop mid-movement and take off their socks, which were symbolically representative of their alignment to the norm. Although the work was a large ensemble piece, Newberry succeeded in giving the dancers freedom to move as individuals and trios. Her movement style is a pleasure to watch as it blends undeniable technique and form with sharp, decisive steps.
If Dance Canvas’ fifth annual showcase is a testimony to what the next five years will look like, it’s safe to say Atlanta’s young and upcoming dancers are in good hands. The organization clearly recognizes great potential and talent while respecting the art form’s beautiful choreographic diversity.
Photo (top): Angela Harris’ Muses of Form being performed at Dance Canvas’ Fifth Annual Showcase. Photo by Richard Calmes.
When you think of Christopher Scott, more comes to mind than just a choreographer – he’s a dance innovator and storyteller. This can be seen in his choreography for the latest in the Step Up franchise, Revolution.
A familiar face on screen, Chris has lent his hand to Fox’s hit dance competition series, So You Think You Can Dance, for which he received his first Emmy nomination at this year’s awards.
Dance Informa caught up with Chris to chat about the success of Step Up Revolution.
How was the experience of choreographing for Step Up Revolution?
I started off my role in the franchise as the character ‘Hair’ in Step Up 2: The Streets. So being behind the camera five years later was a little surreal! It made the experience extremely special. Not to mention getting to create routines with some of the most incredible dancers in the world, all while working under supervising choreographer Jamal Sims, who just happens to be one of my mentors, director Scott Speer, who set an endless idea of what we could do in this film, and executive producer Adam Shankman, who has been such a big part of bringing dancers to the forefront as he’s a dancer himself. And three months in Miami! Basically it was a dream job!
Christopher Scott. Photos by Gabriel Goldberg
Which parts of the choreography did you have a hand in?
I was in charge of choreographing the ‘Office Plaza Mob’, with 65 dancers in suits shutting down an office building in a display of protest. I also had a part in the ‘Museum Mob’. Jamal Sims gave me the piece to choreograph with the Hoberman Spheres (expanding 3D spheres) featuring Twitch. Then we all came together for the finale where I was in charge of Adam Sevani’s section with the riot shields, the b-boy section and Madd Chadd’s robotic police officer section.
How inspiring was it to be in Miami?
Miami is a really inspiring place for art! It has such a strong culture that being there really influenced the outcome of the choreography in some ways.
Is the Miami dance scene very different to LA?
I actually know a lot of dancers in LA from Miami, so I felt very at home there. I have to say though, some of the best b-boys in the world come from Miami! They call it ‘Flava Florida’ and if you have ever seen Skill Methodz crew, Flipside Kings or other Miami crews, you might know what I’m talking about.
Some dance movies don’t always do so well at the box office. Why do you think the Step Up franchise is always such a great success?
I think the fact that it was a franchise built by dancers and people who genuinely love dance. The executive producer Adam Shankman, and Anne Fletcher who directed the first installment, have had an amazing dance and choreography career of their own. Then comes along Jon M. Chu, who directed the second and third installments. He put so much care into making sure the dance was authentic and shot in a way not to distract from the dancers but to enhance them. He also just happens to be an amazing storyteller and I think he plays a huge role in the success of the franchise.
How important has the Step Up series been for hip-hop culture?
I think it has been extremely important! There’s a whole generation of kids out there that haven’t seen Beat Street or Breakin. The Step Up movies have given that generation a dose of what I got growing up. Step Up 3D actually opened with a montage that spoke about hip-hop. The franchise has done a great job of showing that style to the masses in a really great way. For some people it might still just be a bunch of people spinning on their heads, but I know personally that it has inspired kids to train in these dance styles and respect them as art.
Congratulations on receiving an Emmy nomination for this year’s awards. You must feel grateful to shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars for giving dance the recognition it deserves in the media.
Absolutely! They have created a place for dancers to be the stars. I am still amazed when I’m with Twitch and someone asks him for his autograph. He’s getting recognition for being brilliant at an art form, which hasn’t happened much since the Gene Kelly days. These shows have also given someone like me a place to tell stories through movement to a huge audience on a weekly basis, and has given us the opportunity to inspire a whole other generation of dancers who are going to continue to push the boundaries of dance in the future. So yes, I’m extremely grateful for shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars and America’s Best Dance Crew.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on some projects for Jon M. Chu’s new dance lifestyle channel on YouTube called DS2DIO. I have been directing various episodes of a show we have in the US called Studio City, which features some of the best freestylers in the world dancing in a very specific location to them.
I still remember standing in the dressing room with my friends at our little dance studio, looking through some magazine, and seeing them. They were two young men captured in photograph doing fantastic animated moves that made us think they could pop right off the page. And, what made the images truly stunning was that these two men were completely identical in face and form. Fast-forward to this Spring, when I excitedly went to see the performance in honor of Capezio’s 125th Anniversary at City Center in NYC. I was sitting there, content in my seat, thoroughly sated with the entertainment splashing across the stage when, suddenly, there they were! They moved with exquisite precision and with a kind of synchrony that went beyond moving at the same time. More than ten years after I’d first seen their image, they’d finally leapt off the page and onto the stage in front of my eyes. These identical dancers are the Lombard Twins, Martin and Facundo, who have been dancing together since they were born on the same day in Argentina.
Martin and Facundo began dancing at age 7, and by the time they were 13, they’d made their TV debut on the popular Argentinian show Rhythm of the Night. When they were 21, they moved to NYC to pursue their dreams, and soon were performing with music icons such as the King of Funk, James Brown, and Mambo King Tito Puente. They’ve continued to dance and have expanded upon their talents by branching into other visual art forms. They have written, produced, directed, acted in, and edited their own films, have performed and choreographed for music videos, and have been photographed for huge publications such as Vogue. By now, the Twins no longer fit into a specific cast. As if to prove this point, they have developed their own dance form that they call “Free Expression”, that is not so much about style or a genre of dance as it is about allowing one’s emotions and sensations to come through one’s dancing. Free Expression “transcends the rule, traditions, and attitudes inherent to many established dance techniques of today and focuses on individual emotion and expression”, say the twins.
The Lombard Twins in their dance film 'Free Expression'
I was very privileged to interview the Lombard Twins, and am happy to bring this to you in July, when not only will you be able to see Martin and Facundo in the movie Men in Black 3, now out in theaters, but you will also be able to join me in wishing them a very happy birthday!
Clearly, your career is based largely upon and takes advantage of your “twin-ness”. Does either of you work a lot on your own?
It all depends. We did some things separately like, for instance, the scene for the trailer of Men In Black 3, but we don’t really work separately. I say “do things” instead of “work” because we don’t feel that we are working, we feel that we are doing something that we love. This is how we have lived every day since we were kids. I think that the last time we have really “worked” was at 12, fixing tires and delivering wine. [Everything since] has been about expressing ourselves. About twin-ness, hahaha (smile), the twin image was always there. It is not something that we are trying to sell or take advantage of. We were born like that. We don’t think that what we have achieved has anything to do with being twins. We believe our art is beyond a twin image.
Do you come up with your routines together, or does one brother usually take charge of one element or another?
Sometimes we come up with ideas separately and sometimes we don’t. Once we listen to a song we start to talk about what we feel and see. Sometimes, in terms of moves, we don’t totally agree so we search for different moves until we both agree and feel [they are] good for the piece.
Are there days when you wish you were not a team of twins?
NO, not at all. We have been through the same experiences, we feel the same, and we have the same dreams. We were always a team on and off the stage. We were born twins and thinking about getting rid of that would be like not accepting who we are.
The Lombard Twins dance in 'Free Expression'
Do you have any touring ahead of you?
We are performing segments of our dance concert Lombard Play Piazzola with different symphonies and philharmonic orchestras around the country and Canada, and giving Free Expression Dance workshops as well. But, we are really focused on films at this moment. When the movie Step Up 3D came out it opened doors for us to show not only our dancing but the acting side as well. So we want to keep doing that. We are dedicating time to shoot our own short films. We have written and directed, Infancia 34, Free Expression, Sublevados, and Chant Et Fugue, which are being screened in different film festivals around the world.
What are your movement inspirations?
Since we don’t think we have a style but a way of dance (Free Expression) which has to do more with being 100% connected with your emotions and feelings rather than a particular style of dance, most of the time our influences are not related with people but by life experiences. We do have inspirations. Sometimes I see dancers doing a move and I go like, “wooow, I loved that.” That inspires me to keep searching for more.
When the time comes to create, that’s something that we don’t pay much attention to. We don’t use steps from others in our dance compositions. Well, sometimes in tap dance we do use them, but we make our own rhythms. In the creation process, we try to avoid everything we have seen, avoid obvious things; we like to be unexpected. We don’t even create a piece around things that we already know how to do. Our moves come from a vision that we have while listening to the music and what it makes us feel. We never know how to execute the moves that we see. Every piece that we create is a whole new world and requires hours and hours of rehearsal.
Is there any advice you can share with today’s young dancers who want to follow a path similar to yours?
Never stop dreaming. There is not an age to dream, there is not an age to start to do what you feel. Understand that things don’t come out easily. We all have different ways to get to our dreams. If things don’t turn out the way you expected them, don’t take it as something bad, there must be a reason why. Competition doesn’t exist if you are truly being yourself. We were all born as individual human beings. We are all unique. So, appreciate who you are.
What projects do you have coming up?
We are writing a script for a feature film based on our life story. That’s what we want to do next.
What is your greatest motivation?
My Dreams. Also to look at the sky, lift my arms up, take a deep breath, and feel the presence of God. That motivates me.
Teaching class this summer for the Pulse On Tour dance convention may seem like an unlikely gig for 19-year-old Chicago hip-hopper Ian Eastwood, but dancers can get excited as Ian has recently joined the Pulse faculty!
As a kid, he remembers steering clear of “all-style” dance conventions in lieu of only hip-hop specific workshops, although he now sees the benefit of learning and trying other styles. Remembering life in his hometown studio, Eastwood recalls himself hiding in the corner of his jazz and ballet classes. “I love to watch amazing ballet or jazz dancers [but I] wouldn’t let my eye leave the clock until it was time to go because it just wasn’t what I had a passion for.”
Eastwood knew from a young age that he wanted to be a hip-hop dancer. After a stint on America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC) with the Mos Wanted Crew and traveling the world as a master teacher, he will officially join the well-known Pulse On Tour dance convention this summer and in most of their13-city U.S. tour starting in fall.
Ian Eastwood. Photos by Lee Cherry. Courtesy of The Pulse On Tour
He is not shy about looking up to many of the faculty of the Pulse, positing many of them as his role models, but getting the gig was all a joke to him at first. “I was in such shock,” he says of getting the call. “I thought someone was pulling a prank on me and my crew.” After he figured out he wasn’t getting Punk’d, the excitement sank in.
“The most interesting and exciting thing about convention classes is the energy in the room when you have a passionate group of students. Every move feels more exciting than the last,” Ian explains.
This excitement feeds into Eastwood’s teaching as well. He makes a point to value intention and the thought process behind choreography, rather than the steps themselves. Eastwood understands that dance conventions can be fast-paced events where students don’t always get a chance to learn the details of what they are being taught. In his class, Eastwood likes to think the pressure is off.
“Class is class and you are meant to be there to learn. You are supposed to mess up and no one is expected to have the combo perfect,” he states.
Be on the lookout for his lyrical and energetic brand of hip-hop as he takes center stage with the Pulse On Tour. For more information, visit www.thepulseontour.com
If Parris Goebel has been making waves in the international hip hop scene for the past few years, she’s just caused a tsunami. The 20 year-old Samoan-New Zealander was recently announced as a choreographer for Jennifer Lopez’ first world tour.
It’s a dream come true for the South Auckland dancer and choreographer, but she is no overnight success. Parris formed her own, all-female crew ‘ReQuest’ in 2007, and has been working hard to push the boundaries in her field. In conjunction with her father and manager, Brett Goebel, Parris runs The Palace, a dance studio in Auckland, new Zealand which is dedicated entirely to teaching the art of hip hop.
At last year’s Hip Hop International’s World Dance Championships in Las Vegas, The Palace cleaned up. Crews choreographed by Parris took home two gold medals and one silver – out of four categories. The previous two years, ReQuest had won the gold. In 2010, they were the first group ever outside North America to be selected for Season 6 of Randy Jackson’s America’s Best Dance Crew, triumphing over 400 crews in the auditions before making it all the way to the finals. More recently, Parris was crowned Female Choreographer of the Year at the 2012 Industry World of Dance Awards.
And now, at the time of writing, she is in Los Angeles, working with three other acclaimed choreographers on a stage show that will be seen by much of the world. American Idol judge Lopez has paired up with Enrique Iglesias for the two-month tour, which begins in July and covers South America, Europe, Asia and the States. It was reportedly J-Lo’s boyfriend – ex-back up dancer and now lead choreographer Casper Smart – who suggested Parris for the role.
So what’s it like to work with one of the biggest names in pop music? According to Parris, Lopez is “a very positive and genuine person. She is passionate about her work and wants the world to feel emotion through her music.”
In the recent American Idol finals, Lopez hit the stage with ReQuest to perform Parris’ signature ‘Polyswagg’. Parris describes the style as “combining sassy woman fire with aggressive inner strength. The grooves, heavy hits and milky flow are unique and will leave you inspired!”
Her recent successes have catapulted Parris onto the international stage, and her goal to be one of the world’s leading choreographers could be well within reach. As her father says, it’s “no longer a long term goal, [it will] pretty much happen in the next year.”
That family support, coupled with pure passion and dedication, have brought the choreographer this far. Her dancing journey began at age three with jazz classes, and although she now also enjoys contemporary dance, it’s hip hop that has her heart. “I have loved it since I was young,” she says. “It calls you and has so many ways to express yourself. It’s raw and from the street. You can do it if you are short, tall, big or small, boy or girl.”
To have achieved so much at such a young age is truly an inspiration. So what’s her secret? “Believe in yourself, chase you dreams” Parris says. “Make sure you have only positive people around you. Anything is possible. Crowns up!”
Sadler’s Wells- Peacock Theatre, London November 2011
By Lara Bianca Pilcher
Some Like It Hip Hop is an original and highly entertaining dance theatre masterpiece that is fun, fun, fun! This innovative production showcases company founder Kate Prince as the director but also as lyricist, co-choreographer and co-writer.
ZooNation attracts an audience to the theatre that is varied from long time dance lovers and children to even those who usually just watch MTV; attracted to commercial music and dance.
Many children were in the audience. It’s so refreshing that founder Kate Prince has made a family friendly show that will encourage many children to pursue the arts. The stereotypes of hip hop being violent and overly sexualised are broken and hip hop is portrayed in a way that creates a safe show for anyone to come and see.
The story hooks the audience in, continually introducing more dance characters and further evolving others. The live song and acting moves the company from a dance only company to a revue.
The number ‘Invisible Me’ was like a hip hop version of Chicago’s ‘Mr Cellophane’, showing an oppressed character. It demonstrates how hip hop dance can be fused with music to further evolve the dance narrative and allow dance to be a much more communicative theatre language.
I’m a big fan of clean comedy (believing that it takes more skill than reverting to toilet humor) and there are so many moments to make you smile. Natasha Gooden’s doll like face is simply delightful as the dance character ‘Oprah Okeke’. The dancers’ faces and acting skills move them beyond dancers alone into true performers.
The lighting design by Johanna Town, is intricately designed and sets by Ben Stones are well integrated. The sets are as big and transformable as any top West End musical. So often dance is executed on a rather empty and bland stage but not in this show, the sets move and are constantly changing. There is never a dull moment.
The music by DJ Walde and Josh Cohen is original, enhancing the dance communication. There is a symbiotic relationship between the movement and music, true to the foundation of hip hop in the 1970s in Bronx NYC.
The big numbers at the end are a bonus and the whole cast, including the vocalists each have a short freestyle solo, reminding us of the spontaneous and competitive nature of street dance. Many of the performers move with explosive speed and risky air-born lifts and flips. The show is simply invigorating.
He’s worked for the likes of Britney Spears and Jason Derulo, yet LA based hip-hop and house choreographer Tony Czar remains a teacher at heart. Dance Informa caught up with the in-demand choreographer, fresh off the 2011 Source Dance Hollywood Tour, to talk teaching and career highlights.
Your experience as a choreographer is impressive, having worked with some of the best names in the business. Do you ever stand back and think ‘wow, am I really doing this?’
I have always believed in what I do. In addition, I have been working with the right people at the right time to be given these opportunities.
Are there any music artists that are on your choreography wish list?
Missy Elliot, Beyonce, and up and coming Rye Rye!
Your workshops are always a great success. What do you enjoy the most about teaching?
I love having fun and passing on my passion of dance. I love watching the students when they have the ‘aha’ moment and get what I am teaching both physically and mentally.
Reality television has made a huge impact on the dance industry. Given the chance to have your own show like The Dance Scene, would this be something that interests you?
I am a teacher at heart so my favourite jobs are always going to be teaching jobs.
What’s next for you? What projects are you currently working on?
My schedule is fully booked with teaching jobs all over the world. I teach in Poland, Taiwan, Russia, Japan, Korea, and Guam, to just name a few of the places I will be going.
They may not have taken out the title as America’s Best Dance Crew in Season Six, however this all-female hip hop group are winning in their own right. Winning back-to-back titles at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in 2009 and 2010, and recently performing at the Australian Dance Festival, it seems there is no stopping these girls from New Zealand in their quest for world recognition.
Dance Informa caught up with ReQuest, to chat about their stint on America’s Best Dance Crew, and what they’re up to next.
How did you find the experience of competing on America’s Best Dance Crew? Did it meet your expectations?
It was amazing, and one of the highlights of our time as a crew thus far. It met our expectations. Our goal was to just make the show and we weren’t focused on necessarily winning it. We totally enjoyed the journey of just being on the show. It was surreal for us to watch the show over the years and think, ‘wow imagine being on that show’. We never thought it would be possible as it was ‘America’s’ best dance crew, but we always had a dream of what it would be like.
You may not have won the sixth season, but there’s no doubt you’ve had success outside of the show. Are you glad for the exposure that comes from the TV show?
The exposure of being on the show was more the general public and those outside the dance world. We had already achieved a high degree of recognition through being the world champions in 2009 and 2010 so most dancers knew us. Definitely being on TV increased our fan and supporter base all around the world.
How has competing on ABDC influenced your success as a dance crew?
We really dance for the love of dance and to share our gift, so we felt we were successful already. Being on the show just exposed us to more people and I guess you can say we were successful by just getting chosen to be on the show.
Besides the winners of each series, are there any other ABDC crews that stand out to you as being at the top of their game?
Definitely. Jabbawockeez are really the main crew everyone knows as they won season one and have gone on to bigger and better things. Beat Freaks and Fysh N Chicks who are both all female crews really stood out for us and they showed the way for the ladies.
Were you a bit intimidated at being the only international crew to compete on the show? Or do you think this was to your advantage?
We weren’t intimidated at all, but knowing we were the world champions meant we had to bring it. It was really a huge disadvantage not being American as it is a popularity show and we suffered when it came to public voting. We knew this from the start so we didn’t let the voting get to us.
Who are some of your dance idols?
Parris Goebel from The Palace Dance Studio is really our driving inspiration. When you get to dance, train, sweat and learn from her everyday then you can’t help but be inspired. For everything she has accomplished with ReQuest and all the crews from The Palace Dance Studio at the age of 19, makes her our idol. We all get to dance full-time because of her driving force and she has shown us how to follow our dreams.
How often do you rehearse together?
We train and dance six out of seven days. Our day is made up of fitness training, ReQuest training, teaching our hip hop classes and then Palace crew trainings. We did have a contemporary class we all took once a week.
What’s the one thing your fans would be surprised to know about you?
Not one of us actually has red hair!
What’s next for you? What are you currently working on?
We have a busy month in October for Rugby World Cup performances, and then in November we have a tour to the Philippines and Japan.
We all know Christopher “Lil‘ C” Toler as a verbose judge and hip hop specialist on So You Think You Can Dance. A pioneer of Krump and a well-known performer and choreographer in the hip hop scene, Lil’ C may be a man of many words – but he knows what he’s talking about. Lil C will once again be a judge on the SYCTYD panel this new season and Dance Informa spent a few minutes with him during the auditions to talk about his time with the show.
What are you looking for when you’re judging Season Eight?
When I’m judging I’m looking for a number of things. I’m looking for authenticity, for individualism and a connection to the music and heart. Technique only goes so far. Technique is taught, but ‘essence’ – that’s not taught. It’s discovered, developed, learned and honed.
Lil' C with fellow judges for Season 8 of SYTYCD
SYTYCD has been a television phenomenon. What do you think is SYTYCD’s secret to success?
I don’t even think there’s a secret, it’s think it’s just a success! The things that have been going on in dance have always been going on, but SYTYCD has created a funnel to showcase this and make people aware of what is going on in dance. There are so many revolutionary things going on in this industry that people haven’t even caught up to yet.
The fact that SYTYCD is now on the radar of middle America and reaching the masses makes people aware of what we are really doing. We as dancers are athletes. We are just as athletic as Kobe and LeBron. The things that we can do with our bodies are amazing like our muscle elasticity and our rhythm – it’s crazy. The fact that SYTYCD showcases that makes it a success.
How do you think SYTYCD has changed the street dance scene?
It’s definitely opened eyes to what is going on in the ‘urban culture’. It is urban dance – it’s under the radar and people are oblivious to it. Having a platform that showcases urban dance only strengthens the education about it. SYTYCD is educational as well as entertaining and that is a recipe for impeccability!
What is the highlight of being a part of SYTYCD for you?
The highlight is being able to do all three things – being able to choreograph, judge, and perform as well. Whether I’m hitting the stage with Russell or dancing with Twitch, it’s great. And then to see these dancers grow into the amazing artists and physical expressionists that they become, it just warms my heart. It’s being more than a judge; you’re helping them develop themselves.