Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Street Dance on Stage: Exploring the Theatrical

Bringing street dance to theater has taken on many forms in the past three decades. Most recently in LA, we're seeing the touring edition of "Groovaloo" at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. The Groovaloos won NBC's "Superstars of Dance," bringing them as a group to the mainstream American television audience. Now, they and many other hip hop-based teams are venturing into stage shows that will bring greater exposure to street dance styles like popping, locking, and bboying. 

What will be theater's effect on street dance? In some ways, putting a show together makes it more accessible to experience aspects of the styles as well as the culture. For an audience member who isn't directly involved with the bboying world, it will be easier to get a glimpse of that by buying a ticket to a show. Some dancers will become household names through this exposure. And the demands of putting on an entertaining show require street dancers to prepare for choreography routines and possibly on-stage narratives that will push their craft. 

But is it possible to bring new elements to a street dance show that aren't found in our familiar environment of battles, cyphers, and sessions? Take Cirque du Soleil, for example. Cirque is well-known for taking elements of clowning, pantomime, acrobatics, contortionists, and other street performers and bring them under one fantastical umbrella. These shows take us to bizarre, imaginative landscapes that incorporate these diverse performance arts to create spectacle. Can street dance shows go in that direction? Will there be new ideas on movement, storytelling, and musicality that will be explored by progressive minds bringing street dance to the stage? More than likely, it will take individuals with clear, passionate vision to re-conceive street dance in a whole new light for the theater.

One advantage that the theater has over film is its immediate spontaneity. There is a connection formed between the dancer and the audience, which is in the moment and can be different at each performance. If street dancers have strong skills in freestyling, could there be certain aspects of a theatrical show that could evolve through a performance by interacting with the audience? Could there be alternate set pieces that play out like alternate endings for a film? Of course, there are staging complications with these ideas including the already challenging aspects of running a show and keeping your performers safe. But it would be interesting to see how the unique aspects of freestyling in street dance could affect the structure of a stage show.

Hopefully, this new period of street dance in theatre will be ripe with exploration and risk-taking.

No comments:

Post a Comment