Illstyle & Peace Productions
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.
It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.
Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.
It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.