Thursday, November 5, 2009

Inspiring Show: Expression Crew's "Marionette"

To love and to be loved in return is one of our deepest desires. Perhaps the greatest one. It's no surprise that this universal theme is at the heart of today's inspiring show - Expression Crew's Marionette. The show has been performed in many events and stages worldwide. But its simple message continues to haunt us even as new cast members have been added to the show. (Photo above is from Expression Crew's website.)

You can see a video clip of the show here:

And you can check out Expression Crew's website here:

The main story of Marionette is about a puppet who falls in love with a little girl who comes to see his show over time. She grows older and he yearns to express his love for her. But when she grows older, she stops coming to the show. It's touching, fragile, and heartbreaking. Expression Crew from South Korea has taken their international status after Battle of the Year 2002 and turned their talents to theatrical performances. In Marionette, they use bboying moves and transitions along with some popping-inspired isolations to create an imaginative world. Is it possible for hip hop dance to make you cry? Yes. Expression Crew has proven that point. Among mainstream audiences, it may be hard to believe that hip hop and street dance can cause tears since we often see explosive tricks and hard-edged choreography displayed in the media. But, there are plenty of us who are doing emotionally moving work with our styles. We're not limited to eye-catching acrobatics or aggressive swagger. Expression Crew aspires to be different and to reach different creative heights with Marionette, and we're all the better for it.

Check out the music for this show. We're not hearing the usual breakbeats and soul/funk tracks that you'd expect from your familiar bboy jam. Instead, Expression Crew goes with sweeping orchestral music and they play with toy-inspired sound effects that sound like they could emanate from a toy factory or a jewelry box. That's a big step for our culture because dancers like the Expression Crew bboys are challenged to interpret new music with their traditional movements. There's a lot of new ground that we can break here. It's similar to those of us who freestyle to music outside of our comfort zone. For example; dubstep, glitch, and drum 'n bass have been filtering through the Los Angeles popping scene for several years. That's a movement that can only inspire new interpretations with popping styles. For Expression Crew, they're consolidating their ideas about moving to a different style of music into a coherent show. That only makes it more powerful upon viewing.

Moving bboying and street dancing onto the theatrical stage is an important step for our culture. It forces mainstream audiences to see how our styles can work in a cohesive performance. It allows them to be emotionally moved and to feel the storytelling potential of our dance. We can freestyle. We can do routines. And we can move your hearts with our stories. Imagination can flow through our bodies as we take the floor. Expression Crew has done all of this with Marionette. It's a beautiful thing to watch unfold on stage. The theater allows for our styles to expressed and explored in new ways that weren't possible beforehand. It doesn't mean that we have to lose the raw street sense that our styles already possessed. No, it allows us to grow in a different direction that could enhance the initial beginnings of our hip hop dance culture. Presentation of your dance is a key performing skill that we can all develop and refine over the years. Why not sharpen it with a theatrical showcase? Not only can we build upon the journey of our global dance culture, but we can leave influential impressions on a world hungry for meaningful stories.

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