Tonight I went to see something completely different. Instead of attending another classical concert, I headed to the Barbican to see the latest hip hop dance group Boy Blue, perform Pied Piper. Having never been to a live hip hop performance, the price was right and I attended. The whole cultural mystique from which the dance form has been derived is not my life experience, as I am a Caucasian, middle class, Canadian, swing / two-step / tango / social dancer. Not so good at the hip and the hop. The enormous amount of talent I saw on stage however, made any life experience barriers fall aside into an abyss of dance joy.
In the show the Pied Piper is hired by four money laden bureaucrats to clean up the UK streets from the 'hoodies' (people in hooded sweat shirts causing chaos to reign). The Pied Piper enters several different lairs of evil (snakes, vampires, etc), and conquers them one by one. One of the best moves was the traditional run up to a wall, leg pushes off wall, legs flip over head, and person lands upright on floor. Only the Pied Piper was the wall, four men held him still, and one man did a back flip off his chest and another off his back at the same time. Stupendous! Then there were the flips, and air spins with half turns, and feet moving so fast that there seemed to be six feet where there should have only been two. The speed and gravity defying dancing caused me and the audience to ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhhh’ for much of the performance.
In true fashion, I noticed that there was a good mix of ethnicities on stage as well as a strong mix of women and men. Most of the Hollywood hip hop dance movies show predominately male groups in competitions, and perhaps one token female group. This group did not delineate between genders, skin colours or ethnicities. All those who passed the audition, were on stage breaking a sweat while entertaining the audience.
During the applause I am so glad I broke away from my norm and did something different (the Barbican's motto). My only critique would be the amount of dancing that represented fighting, whereas I had always been told that the Pied Piper played a wee flute and danced the rats out of Hamelin. No flutes in this performance, but much dancing!
If you have a chance to attend a Boy Blue show or any hip hop event, add a little flair to your life and see the dancing live instead of in a movie. You may even go home and try a few of the lighter moves. (No wall attempts please.)
A Boy Blue Peak
Pied Piper Longer
This is slightly different than the one I saw this evening. Less hootchie from the ladies who wore more clothing.