It is certainly not very often that a hip-hop/breakdancing show makes its way to an Island stage, but last weekend, a jam-packed theatre of dance lovers indulged in their chance to soak it in.
Last Saturday night at The Mack in Charlottetown, the members of a Canadian dance troupe called Bboyizm (pronounced Bee-boy-iz-im, in reference to B-boying or street dance) made The Mack’s stage their street corner, as seven dancers wowed the crowd in a brief-but-powerful performance.
It was all just a little over an hour long, but for the all-ages audience that consisted of a slew of March-break-madness-fueled kids, amid many of us adults who could surely be diagnosed with a full-on case of spring fever ourselves, this kind of a short-but-sweet letting-loose kind of dance show was exactly the type of electrified elixir to do the trick.
B-boying or breaking is a type of street dance that originated among black and Puerto Rican youths in New York City during the early 1970s. (You may have seen these types of styles most recently with the kind of popping and locking, etc. that they showcase on TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance.)
Bboyizm is a dance company based in Ottawa, whose mandate is to promote and preserve the foundation, authenticity and true essence of all street dances. The artistic philosophy of the company is based on the idea that a dancer’s self-expression is paramount and, in turn, the group’s most-fitting motto is: “Dance to express, not to impress.”
Expression was indeed the group’s main goal in this show called Music Creates Opportunity; yet, in the midst of it, even though Bboyizm may not have aimed for it, the end result definitely seemed to be an audience of very impressed people, as many could only express this impression through the action of a standing ovation.
The show was performed by four b-boys and three b-girls (stands for “break-boys” and “break-girls”), led by artistic director/choreographer Crazy Smooth (with b-girls Melly Mel, Miss Marie and Julie Rock and b-boys Nosb, Wary the Warrior and Strife).
With nine different dance numbers — from synced choreographed ensemble dances throughout to solo parts that brought-out cheers from the audience when a flamboyant leg-windmill would be done, a 10-second-long head spin, a backflip, a freeze, a handspring, etc. — Bboyizm was high-energy and a colourful palate of physical expressions at every step of the way.
While it was a delight to see an ensemble of dancers all from various ethnic backgrounds — as one of the most striking parts of the show was when the dancers all took turns saying what they loved about the dance that was just performed, in seven different languages (demonstrating the universal physical language that is dance, of course) — it was also interesting to observe how one person’s (Smooth’s) choreography flowed through the type of physicality that each dancer possessed.
And while the show lacked the kind of structure and thematic direction that we are used to seeing on theatre stages, the loose structural feel seemed to compliment the on-the-spot creative essence of what this type of dance is all about.
A Q & A session that wrapped up the evening after the performance shed a little bit more light on how the dancers do what they do.
“What age did you start messing around with your body like that?” and “How long did you practise this show for?” were a couple of the questions that were fired out by excited youngsters from the crowd.
Smooth answered that it was high school when he started really getting into breaking and that the show was written by the dancers with regular 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. sessions last year over the course of a handful of intensely creative weeks.
For more information on Bboyizm, to see some of their dances and to even check out where their workshops are held, visit www.bboyizm.ca.
Next week: Katie McGarry’s CD launch for Waiting On, set for The Haviland Club tonight.
Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
1. Katie McGarry CD Launch – Haviland Club, today at 8 p.m. McGarry releases her latest CD, Waiting On, tonight at The Haviland, with an opening performance by Dylan Menzie.
2. Electra – Main Building Faculty Lounge, UPEI, today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Vagabond Productions is staging the Greek tragedy of Electra by Euripides, written around 410 BC.
3. Haunted Hearts – Hunter’s Ale House, today at 10:30 p.m.
4. Viewing of “Island Green” – Bonshaw Community Centre, tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I., the community social will be centred around the half-hour documentary on organic farming on P.E.I., by Island filmmaker Mille Clarkes.
5. Sons of the Island Comedy Show – The Guild, tomorrow at 9 p.m. featuring comedy by Patrick Ledwell, Rob MacDonald, Taylor Carver and more.
6. Copy Cat presents Classic Vinyl Live – Hunter’s Ale House, tomorrow at 10:30 p.m. This month’s selection for the full album played live by Copy Cat is Kiss Alive!.