Berlin B-Boy crew The Flying Steps bring their electrifying mix of breakdancing and Bach back to Oz
After their debut Australian tour in 2013, four-time World Champion breakdance crew the Flying Steps are back this year with their international hit. Conceived by the crew and artistic director Christoph Hagel, the show mashes up electronica with Johann Sebastian Bach's Baroque 'hit' 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' and some serious dancing.
"It turns the classical world upside down, crossing the borders of serious music and youth culture," says choreographer Vartan Bassil. "We are not only dancing, we are visualising and reviving Bach’s music. The Flying Steps learned every single note. Each dancer represents precisely what is written on the sheet of music. We personify each voice of the fugues. One dancer represents the high tone, the second visualises the middle tone, and the bass is assigned to a third dancer. By doing so, we literally embody Bach’s music in its complete entity."
"Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier fits best because our movements are as accurate, sharp and cool as Bach composed," says Bassil, who’s not surprised modern breakdancing moves blends so well with music written almost 300 years ago. "With breakdance you can visualise Bach’s compositions very precisely, especially the contrapuntal rhythm. It matches better than modern dance or ballet. Our artistic director Christoph Hagel once said that breakdance and Bach interpret time, visually and musically, in a pretty similar way."
Bassil hopes shows like this will also help people visualise breakdancing in a new way.
"We wanted to do something completely new. Moreover, we want to demonstrate that breakdance can be much more than sports or street culture," he says. "For a long time, I had the idea of dancing to classical music. I had all these pictures in my head and I knew it would work, because what a ballerina can do with her feet, a pirouette for example, we can do on our heads. But the question was, which composer and piece of music fits best? Then we met Christoph Hagel and he suggested the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The idea of Red Bull Flying Bach was born.”
Part of what helps ease people into the fascinating juxtaposition is the way the music is mixed. They combine elements of the classical compositions with electronic remixes, to help bridge any gaps between the movements on stage and what the audience is hearing.
"We have three different elements of music: The classical part is presented by piano and harpsichord, the modern part by electronic beats," says Bassil. "Some elements of Bach’s music are remixed by Ketan and Vivan Bhatti, two well known composers based in Germany."
So far, it seems to be a hit. "The crowd’s reaction is unbelievable. From the elderly, classically trained music lovers to the younger generation who‘d never really been into Bach or any music of this kind, everybody is fascinated how perfectly these two worlds fit together," says Bassil. "We already performed Red Bull Flying Bach in different countries, and the reaction was always amazing. I believe, that our performance will be understood everywhere."
Audiences in Australia can expect nothing else. "They can expect an exciting clash of cultures. They can expect one of the best urban dance groups worldwide. They can expect a show which combines Bach and breakdance in a way never seen before," says Bassil. "Red Bull Flying Bach is something new, it’s entertaining, it’s fascinating. I promise: they will have a great time."
Bach would be so proud.