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By Steve Sucato
Photo courtesy Illstyle & Peace Productions
Illstyle & Peace Productions
Cain Park, Evans Amphitheater, Cleveland, OH
July 22, 2005
Reviewed by Steve Sucato
An adagio montage of breakdance, popping, locking, jazz, and ballet movements filled the stage in the opening work of “Same Spirit Different Movement,” as a half-dozen dancers in hip hop garb each performed unique choreography independently of one another. The program’s title also reflects the collaborative nature of this Philadelphia-based ensemble, which combines members from two hip hop crews hailing from Philadelphia and the Cleveland-Akron areas.
In true hip hop fashion, the music (spun by DJ Razor Ramon) was loud, the dancing aggressive, and the power breakdance moves impressive. Atypical, however, was an underlying sense that the program seemed intentionally toned down to play to a wide audience. The dozen or so works favored a blend of popping, locking, jazz, and other dance forms over hard-core breakdancing. Nonetheless, there were enough elements of hip hop culture and entertaining moments to satisfy most aficionados of the genre.
Most enthralling was dancer Montray Cherry’s dead-on recreation of Michael Jackson’s patented dance moves in Half Man Half Mike. From moonwalking to crotch grabbing, and the famous forward lean from Jackson’s Smooth Criminal video, Cherry’s impressive impersonation might have had even the Gloved One himself doing a double take. Equally impressive was the vocal prowess of Anointed S, an award-winning beatboxer from Brooklyn whose vocal skills made him sound like he had swallowed a recording studio. His multilayered vocal barrage of beats, clicks, pops, and deep bass notes delivered in song bedazzled.
Other highlights included His Love, Our Love, My Love, a fusion of music-video-style group choreography and breakdance moves set to a tight hip hop groove, and B-boys are you ready?, an old-school battle of breakdancing skills.
With freestyle rapping, beatboxing, and turntabling, and even a gospel solo thrown in, Illstyle & Peace Production brought a plethora of hip hop culture to the outdoor stage. Although much of the choreography repeated itself, the talented dancers performed with energy and flair. See www.illstylerockers.net.