Georgia Clark's Arts Mixtape
Get Your Groovaloo On
"Groovaloo" weaves dancer's real-life stories into a hot new hip-hop show.
Ivan Valez gets airborne. Groovaloo sees dancers expressing themselves through the roots of the culture – "fighting to get into the groove and work it out every show." Photo by Levi Walker.
The Joyce Theater, 75 Eighth Avenue, NYC
September 15 –27
Tickets $10 - $59. Information (212) 242-0800 and joyce.org
So you think you can dance? We know these guys can! In the tradition of "A Chorus Line," new hip-hop show "Groovaloo" explores dancers real-life narratives to create a powerful and entertaining performance that has everyone from Pink to the LA Times raving. What makes dancers tick? What bought them to the stage in the first place? How has dancing changed their lives? Such questions are bought to life in this unique insight into a often-misunderstood culture. We chatted to artistic director and co-creator Bradley "Shooz" Rapier about the challenges and pleasures of a show like "Groovaloo."
Q. Beyond just technical skills, what constitutes a truly great hip-hop dancer?
A. One of the core elements of the street dance culture is freestyle – the ability to dance without choreography or preset moves. For many of us, it's the essence and the most electrifying part of the art form. It requires you to put your own stamp on what you do, bring your character to it and create your style at the same time you are training.
Q. How does "Groovaloo" break new ground artistically?
A. Our goal has been to present the dance as the art form that it is. We share how this culture has truly affected each of our lives and as such we have the ability to connect with so many people, dancers or otherwise. The incredible inspiration behind art form, the beauty in the quiet moments, the crazy power of movement, the unpredictability, freedom and endless creativity as each individual brings his or her style to the table each night. This is not a gimmick dance.
Q. How willing did you feel the dancers were to weave their personal stories into the performance?
A. It's been a journey for all of us. Different members have gotten to their level of openness in very different ways, but through each inception of the show we've grown in the confidence that the more we share and the deeper we go the more we connect and affect others. It helped greatly that we are an actual group, not auditioned strangers, so that there is a sense of trust in what we are doing. We all recognize the show is larger than any one of us, and what it potentially can do is more important than our individual fears.
Q. Has the popularity of shows like "So You Think You Can Dance" changed the public's appetite for dance in America?
A. "SYTYCD" and "ABDC" are really only the tip of the iceberg as far showing all of the different styles and talent that we have out there. Hopefully the shows will continue to evolve and cater more to the dancer, and help them show their full range of creativity instead of making the dancer conform to the format of the show, which usually leads to a rushed and watered down version of what they really do. It's great these shows exist, but we still have plenty of room for growth.
Q. Dispel a common misconception about dancers.
A. The worst stigma is that hip-hop dancers are part of the rap scene, the street hood, etc. From my experience the street dance art form generally has little to do with that and so many us do not come from that. Take me for example – I'm a doctor's son from Canada. We love the beats but much of the rest of that craziness we are not interested in.
Pic credit: Levi Walker
Pic caption: Ivan Valez gets airborne. Groovaloo sees dancers expressing themselves through the roots of the culture – "fighting to get into the groove and work it out every show."
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