Decadancetheatre: Brooklyn Breaks at the Arsht
Decadancetheatre, an all-female crew based in Brooklyn, is all about staying true to hip-hop culture. They use old-school styles -- breaking, popping, locking, and house -- to tell stories on stage.
In their 2004 performance, Decadance vs. the Firebird, the company remade Stravinsky's classic ballet. For their Miami debut at the Adrienne Arsht Center, they will perform When the Sky Breaks 3D, a live performance set in dimensional video.
Regardless of their experimental attitude, these dancers never forget their ties to the underground. As artistic director Jennifer Weber was warming up in the Miami sunshine, we got a chance to ask her about her company's philosophy.
New Times: Tell us about Decadancetheatre and what you do.
Jennifer Weber: Decadance is an
all-female hip-hop crew based in Brooklyn. We basically experiment with
hip-hop to push it in new theatrical directions. So we're looking at
hip-hop as a language, and as a culture. We're looking at ways to use
that language to tell stories that don't necessarily have anything to do
with hip-hop itself.
From your perspective, what is the original culture of hip-hop?
talk about hip-hop as a culture based on four elements: DJ-ing, MC-ing,
graffiti, and dance, and a lot of people talk about a fifth element of
hip-hop culture, which is knowledge. When I think about hip-hop culture,
I think about participation and community, and the people who keep the
culture alive. Which is very different than the commercial rap industry
that's being sold.
I think people get confused about what hip-hop actually is.
lot of people feel that way -- and a lot of people confuse hip-hop and
rap. The simple way I think about it is that hip-hop is a culture you
participate in, rap is something you can buy, like sneakers or
champagne. If you can buy it, it's not a culture. It's just an industry.
What is the Brooklyn style?
New York is very based in
foundation and technique. The further you get away from New York, the
more experimental people get with hip-hop, in my opinion. Especially in
Europe, they're doing some crazy fusion work. But I think that what is
the same, everywhere, is that it is the language of people making
something out of nothing-- where people who feel their voice is not
heard come together to be heard.
Why do you think hip-hop is so big in Japan?
spent a month there; it was crazy. Hip-hop in Japan is huge. In Tokyo
alone, there must be 40 different studios that focus on hip-hop, where
in New York, there are one or two. I think it's because Japanese culture
is so restricted, it's all about following the rules, or the path that
your parents set out for you.
Back in New York, where is hip-hop culture growing and happening?
think it's growing in so many different places. The club scene in New
York is unbelievable -- the parties and what's happening in the clubs
with people coming together. People from all over the world come to New
York, so we get this crazy mash-up of global voices. But it's not just
in the clubs. It is also on the streets, it's also in dance studios and
in theaters, it's in all these places. It's growing simultaneously
underground, above ground, mainstream, counterculture.
And you bring it to the theater.
Yes, that's our main focus, bringing that underground energy, and rhythm, and heartbeat and vibe to the stage.
to the Carnival Studio at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
on Friday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and
Saturday, Feb. 4 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $35; go to
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