I think I’ve seen the Red Bull team twice now. Always pretty incredible, but I do find them the tiniest bit repetitive with the choreography. And I wish the story was more thought out!
The review was originally posted on Arts on the AU.
The excitable crowd really sets the scene for this highly energetic performance, where classical music meets breakdance in a fierce explosion of athleticism and skill. Enthusiastic cheers greet the dancers as soon as the lights begin to dim, with call outs and whoops being heard above the first notes of Bach struck by live pianists on either side of the stage.
Red Bull Flying Bach is a completely unique kind of show- it shows off the explosive break dance style of four-times world champion breakdance crew Flying Steps, to the masterpieces of 18th century composer Johann Sebastian Bach. In the words of Artistic Director Christoph Hagel “the sharpness, freshness and coolness of Bach’s preludes and fugues work faultlessly with the dance style of the Flying Steps”.
The whole performance is a fusion of opposites that somehow seems to blend as if meant for each other all along. The 8-breakdancing boys bust out their signature head spins, power moves, freezes, locking… and dance alongside the graceful pirouetting movements of a single ballerina. And all this is done to the resounding sounds of piano, harpsichord and electronic beats. It’s conflicting, and this all just somehow brings more energy to the performance.
There is a storyline, which revolves around a visual representation of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, but the real focus is on showing off the dancing. There is very little else that distracts you from the sheer athleticism and strength you’re witnessing, with minimal stage design, little use of props and a back screen that is only used to project abstract patters (not unlike those of a screensaver) and the occasional pre-prepared video footage of performers as the live act prepares for the next stage.
In the same contrary nature there is an almost jarring change of pace between pieces- some feature pure Bach, others a more electronic re-envisioning, some pieces have a comedic cheekiness about them, while others are downright serious. Choreographer and mastermind behind Flying Bach, Vartan Bassil, has really managed to deliver this unique performance in way that can be understood and appreciated by the whole audience. In his own words it “really offers something unique- it introduces classical music to the street scene, but also allows high art fans to experience the best in urban dance”
Throughout the performances you cannot help but wonder at how they manage some of these moves, as the crowd simply gasps in awe at the skilled displays of strength. You can really feel the performers passion for their dance, which gives the performance that much more impact. Even from where I was sitting I could see the bruises of dedication on our Ballerina’s legs.
Undoubtedly my favourite part of the performance is the gathering of the entire troupe on stage for an energetic finale of busting moves, synchronized steps and just plain showing off, bringing an end to this truly unique and impressive fusion of urban art and classical elegance.