Flying Bach: Break-dance meets classical music

SIENA YATES
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2014
Stuff.co.nz

When hip-hop meets ballet, The Red Bull Flying Bach will bring their moves for their New Zealand performances.

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Break-dancing to a Bach composition may seem like a culture clash, but one show is out to prove that music really can break barriers.

Red Bull Flying Bach is bringing its production to New Zealand, marrying the classical composition of 18th century composer Johann Sebastian Bach with the fancy footwork of break-dancing world champions Flying Steps. 

Lead dancer Mikel Rosemann has been a part of the Flying Bach project since its inception, and says while the piece they are dancing to - Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier - was hard to comprehend at first, it has been interpreted in a way which makes it possible to ''see the music''. 

''Now it works perfect, it fits together, but we didn't know that when we started this. It was hard work, but we wanted to build something special and it's a really new way to show how Bach composed this music. You don't have to be an expert to enjoy it, we explain everything, not only for  [the audience] to be able to listen to the music, but they can see the music,'' he says.

It took more than a year just to get the concept together with the show's artistic director and international concert conductor, Christoph Hagel, who chose the piece to fit with Flying Steps' style.

''We asked him why this piece? Why Bach? And he just said, 'trust me, it'll fit perfectly'. So we gave it a try. In the beginning it was hard to hear, because I was trying to listen for the beat. I danced more than 20 years to only hip hop and now I'm listening to classical. But the more I listened, I could hear that it was a powerful piece and we could create powerful images, and it was really easy to feel the groove. Music is really special in that way.'' 

Classically trained ballet dancer Anna Holmstrom is now finding her feet in a world where hip hop beats are mixed in with Bach's compositions.

''I've been practicing a little bit of B-girling stuff,'' she laughs, ''It's taking a lot of time, you can see how much work there is behind just one move even, and you really need to want to make it happen. You're using different muscles and using the body in a different way than I'm used to, but it's really inspiring and interesting.'' 

Red Bull Flying Bach is coming to New Zealand on the back of a sold out world tour, bringing a mix of live music and electronic beats, break-dancing and ballet steps and a storyline that visualises Bach's immensely complex piece. 

Red Bull Flying Bach is on at Auckland's ASB Theatre, for New Zealand's first-ever shows from September 5 to September 6. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.

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