Monday, 30 July 2018

GRIMM: Hiphop meets Ballet

Ever wondered how two different worlds of dance could become one in a timeless tale? Try hip hop and ballet with a whiff of fairy dust and a pinch of video games.

In May I went to the Luxor theatre in Rotterdam for a hiphop and ballet performance called 'GRIMM': a contemporary blend of fairytales as old as rhyme, told in the language of dance and lightplay. It's been a while, but I still wanted to do a short write-up of this performance because it has made me think of my own artistic self as well.



The story features two teenage boys, playing video games... until their mother comes in angry and tells them to stop playing and eat an apple instead. This gesture hints at the old saying that 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away', but of course also Snow White's step mom. Frustrated with their mom's interruption, the boys play around with the apple until it hits their tv and disappears into a mysterious ripple. They step into the TV, as if it's Narnia's magic closet... and thus begins the fairytale.

The boys first meet Little Red Riding hood, who is confronted with the big bad wolf. Various other classic characters make their appearance: Snow White and the dwarves, Aurora, Cinderella and Rapunzel. The four princesses are crucial to an evil witch's quest towards formidable power. Each of them had their own characteristic and distinct dance style:
  • Snow white: a classical ballerina... but in the story she shows traits of stiffness and jealousy due to a crush on one of the teenage boys.
  • Aurora: the flowy ballerina, dressed in a flowery gown; the girly-girl of the story.
  • Cinderella: a sassy dancer with hints of salsa. She wears silver sneakers for glass boots and has a fun attitude.
  • Rapunzel: the elegant aerial dancer with long flowing blonde hair. It was a display of aerobic finesse and truly fitted the fairytale.
The big bad wolf also had his own insane hip hop popping and locking style, whereas the evil witch was defined by hyperflexible moves in a style more close to modern dance. I loved how each character was easily distinguishable from their movements. Being a lover of words myself, it amazed me how much can be told through body language.

I also loved the typical incorporation of a funny character in this performance... which in this case included the seven dwarves. The way they marched/danced was hilarious yet well-synched. It added a funny backbone to the performance, reminding me again how diverse it was.

What struck me immediately was how the elegance of ballet and the energy of hip hop blended in perfectly. It was the choice of music that led to a logical follow-up of all the segments, but also the lightplay that easily guided the viewer through with its magical touch. I have always been a fan of juxtaposition and mixing several techniques into a whole. The projectors that changed the backdrop from time to time, along with the light patterns projected onto the dance floor made it a formidable performance. Somehow these modern techniques reminded me of the Lion King musical, but then a bit more subtle.

Overall, the performance was worth going to. Although the story was simple, the choreography was certainly not. Going here has not only awakened my love for hip hop again, it also reminded me of what kind of artist I am. I am a mixed-media kind of person who is in love with juxtaposition. All my life I have always been defined by contrast, in terms of personality, my nationality versus my ethnicity, my musical tastes, my educational career... They are marked by a coexistence of diversity. I have also come to a point where I am discovering more than just words to express myself... I like to mix in photographs, illustrations, video, and more. Hence the mixed-media interest.

It is soothing to know more about myself and what I am interested in. Hopefully one day I will also find my own distinct artistic self, easily recognised without the use of words... just like how every character in GRIMM was able to define themselves through dance.


For more information about GRIMM, visit the following link (Dutch only):
https://www.operaballet.nl/nl/ballet/2017-2018/voorstelling/grimm





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