Tonight I was super-excited to see "Ballerina Who Loves B-boy," a Korean dance show featuring Extreme Crew, the winners of the 2007 Battle of the Year breakdance competition in Germany. I saw some of the sickest b-boying I’ve ever seen in person, bar none. That alone was worth the price of admission.
The Korean crews just bring such raw athleticism and power to breakdance that is unmatched. Lots of great styles on display, from breaking to popping, locking, krumping, freestyle… and of course ballet. In a relatively short period of time, the Korean dancers have amassed a ridiculous amount of expertise in a number of street dances, which would be an interesting ethnographic study.
Beyond the dancing, I have to say I did have some issues with the show….
In general I found the whole story-line, what there was of it, somewhat confusing and even troubling. It’s basically:
- Ballerina girls are disturbed by hip-hop dancers outside their studio. They go down and investigate.
- A rowdy crew of hip-hop dancers make fun of them and do lots of showy, put-down dances.
- Ballerina girl does some pretty ballet moves — more mockery from hip-hop dancers.
- Ballerina girl falls in love with b-boy.
- Ballerina has troubling nightmares, I guess about her obsession with the b-boy.
- Freaky masked dancers / spirits harass her in her dreams.
- Ballerina shows up later in hip-hop gear.
- Ballerina and b-boy perform sort of lame b-boy routine together and walk off hand in hand.
I have to ask, why all the hateration toward ballet? Can’t they agree to appreciate each others dance forms? Can’t they come up with some synthesis of the two? (Or am I just thinking of that "Step Up" movie?)
That the ballerina leaves behind her wonderful dance to do some half-hearted b-boy dancing at the end is just wack. And that she does it for a guy is even worse.
The show’s general messaging about women just bothered me, as well as my friend Josephine who came with me. The entire girl crew was really not good. They were basically three frighteningly thin girls doing gyrations and hip-thrusts in very slutty clothes. It was the opposite of titillating. (See this post for a much better example of hawt Asian girls doing hip-hop dance.)
Don’t they have any b-girls in Korea? Certainly there have to be some female poppers and lockers. Having the only female presence be either these hoochie mamma’s shaking their skinny butts and these stuck up ballerinas just seemed wack to me and Josephine. Fer real.
And lastly, I have to say the performances, though tremendously skillful, really had no arc or trajectory to them. It was basically sick move after sick move, the same two sets alternated back and forth. There was not sense of building toward the final show-stopping number, or some kind of tonal change along the way. The exception was the quite beautiful and haunting dream sequence done with masked dancers that transcended the athleticism and was truly art.
One final point in the show’s favor: they encourage you to take pictures and video! That’s some smart marketing, since no matter how many Youtube videos you see of Extreme Crew, if you get a chance to see them in person, you’ll go.
Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing show. If you want to see some really dope b-boying like you have never seen, go to this show. But does it transcend the form and become something that does more than just excite you? I don’t think so.
"Ballerina Who Loves B-Boy" is playing through October at the lovely 37 Arts Theater.