Pioneering female dance troupe Decadancetheatre will bring its hip-hop ballet, “Decadance Vs. The Firebird” to the Tusculum College stage on Tuesday, March 17.
The performance will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum College campus. The production is part of Tusculum College Arts Outreach’s Acts, Arts, Academia 2008-2009 performance and lecture series.
Decadancetheatre is a troupe of female dancers from the U.S., Germany, Italy and Japan. Although the dancers don’t speak the same verbal language, they share a physical form of communication in hip-hop, an urban folk culture they acquired in the clubs and on the streets of the cities where they grew up.
The group joined to create a new outlet for hip-hop performances. Decadancetheatre’s goal is to take hip-hop - the style, attitude, energy and female dancers - out of the background of music videos and into the forefront of theatrical performance through creating hip-hop ballets.
Much like traditional choreographers use the vocabulary of ballet, Decadancetheatre uses the vocabulary of hip-hop to tell the stories of the hip-hop generation. The group feels that the popularity of the movement genre loosely called “hip-hop” represents a global youth culture that merits artistic exploration and experimentation.
In its performances, Decadancetheatre incorporates a fusion of various underground dance styles such as breaking (floor power moves), popping (small articulated, movements of the arms and legs making the dancer look robotic), locking (big, cartoon-like steps) and commercial hip-hop (big, sharp movements of the arms and head with kicks, jumps, turns, and knee slides). The group also incorporates graffiti, DJing, and MCing into its work as these elements complete the diverse culture of hip-hop.
Decadancetheatre has toured all over the U.S. and Great Britain, including performances at festivals in London, Liverpool and Seattle where the troupe shared the bill with Wu-Tang Clan, John Legend and Fergie. In addition, Decadancetheatre been featured on MTV, CBS, and in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit and XXL. The dance troupe has received support from the Brooklyn Arts Council.
“Decadance Vs. The Firebird” is an urban ballet for the 21st century that tells the story of Iva, a young girl in the inner city whose youthful exuberance keeps her blissfully ignorant of the potential dangers around her. Iva meets an unlikely companion who will prove to be an even more unlikely savior - a dazzling creature known only as the Firebird through which Iva can see all things are possible. As Iva encounters a series of challenges, she will need the Firebird’s light to find her way out. In one of the opening scenes, Iva twirls the knob of a boombox, looking for her place among the hip-hop she hears, which does include some offensive, derogatory language about women. Other than the song lyrics of this particular song, the performance is appropriate for all audiences.
The ballet, based on a Russian folktale, was originally performed in 1910 by the Ballet Russes with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by Michael Fokine. Decadancethreatre has fused breakdancing with ballet, integrated original, hip-hop beats into Stravinsky’s score and remixed the classic story into a contemporary text. The all-female cast challenges the ballet convention of a “handsome prince” and instead creates a world where women battle for the right to rule the dance floor. A high-energy dance performance ready to entertain diverse audiences of all ages, “Decadance Vs. The Firebird’ presents a new vision for hip-hop dance theatre.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (60 and over) and $5 for children 12 and under. For more information, please contact Tusculum College Arts Outreach at 423-798-1620 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.