Join us tomorrow morning (25th May) on BBC Radio Saturday Breakfast Show 94.9FM at 8.15am. The show is hosted by Joanne Good & Simon Lederman We’ll be talking about Some Like It Hip Hop. Hope you enjoy!
This is just to let you know that you can get half price tickets to Some Like It Hip Hop this week only! This season I’m only performing 4 shows per week so do get in touch via my email address email@example.com if you are planning to book tickets to make sure I’m performing that day. This week I’m performing Wednesday the 22nd, Friday the 25th and Saturday night the 26th. You can either book tickets online here or phone box office on 0844 412 4322 and use the promotional code ‘PCDWOS’ to get half price tickets this week (excluding Thursday and Saturday). The only two days that I’m performing and you can use the discount code for is Wednesday and Friday.
Hope you can make it!!! xxx
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I’ve been nominated for The Times South Bank Sky Arts Breakthrough Awards and it will be decided by public vote. I would appreciate it heaps if you voted for me now by clicking on this link and follow the instructions. The awards ceremony will take place on the 12th March.
Thanks a lot!! x
3rd time lucky and I receive an Award for my efforts in ‘Some Like It Hip Hop’ and ‘The Rodin Project’. In 2010 I was nominated in the same award and last year an Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Performance in Dance’.
Even better is that Teneisha Bonner also won an award for ‘Outstanding Female Performance (Modern)’ for Some Like It Hip Hop’.
Here is the full list of award winners http://dancetabs.com/2013/01/2012-uk-national-dance-awards-winners-announced/
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Last week, the nominations were announced for this year’s National Dance awards, and it’s no surprise that Tommy Franzén is in the running for outstanding male dancer. Whether touring in Zoo Nation’s Some Like it Hip Hop and Russell Maliphant’s The Rodin Project, or starring in Flashmob during its long Edinburgh run, there can hardly have been a night when Franzén wasn’t on stage during the past 12 months. But its not his stamina that makes him outstanding, it’s the quality and range of his dancing.
This glitzy showreel, culled from his appearance in the BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance, offers a quick tour around his signature skills. On a purely athletic level, there may be other B-boy dancers who execute fiercer turns or hold more heartstopping balances than Franzén – but I’ve seen none to match his quicksilver fluency. He glides and twists through a dance phrase like an eel (0.25-30), yet at the same time moves with a buoyancy that brings air and light to his footwork (0.50–59). It’s the hip-hop equivalent of classical ballon, and Franzén – who has worked with ballet dancers like Tamara Rojo in the past – seems to be consciously working classical elements into his repertory. At 1.27 he slips a brief pirouette in among the B-boy spins, while the climactic tumbling spin that concludes his final routine is like a reckless hip-hop version of the classical revoltade, in which the dancer appears to be vaulting over his own leg.
These clips were assembled to show Franzén’s best, point-scoring moves in SYTYCD. But while the shenanigans of the personality contest element robbed him of first place, what made him the honorary winner of that series was the exceptional musicality of his performances. In the first three routines, every move maximises the surface speed and bounce of the rhythm, yet Franzén still has the time to fill out the larger phrases, carving out his own expressive structure. It’s the secret of great popular dancing (Astaire had it too) and it’s very evident in the Beggin’ clip, where Franzén captures the song’s core dynamic of emotional yearning (the suspended spiral at 0.23) even while hurtling forward on its beat. In the final slow routine, set to Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River, it’s fascinating to watch him experimenting with the natural choppy pulse of hip-hop – slowing it down, stretching it out across the action of his arms and torso.
Franzén’s willingness to push himself against the grain of his genre is even more impressive in this clip from Classical Break, choreographed by Tony Adigun to a fragment of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
The music develops through challengingly slow increments of harmony and melody – if Adigun’s choreographic response occasionally seems a tad gauche (0.58), Franzén’s body gets deep inside it. Here too he rounds out every phrase (O.24), but there’s a floating suspension to some of his movements (0.28-30) and a miraculous, gliding evenness of footwork (1.19) that create an uncanny dialogue with the long, romantic lines of the score.
Franzén can also do stillness, and in the concluding moments of this solo you can see him daring to use the full force of his physical presence. It’s a quality that made him a natural dancer for Maliphant, even though the latter’s choreography owes far more to the meditative dynamic of t’ai chi than the urban gregariousness of hip-hop.
In this section of the wall duet from the Rodin Project, Franzén and his fellow B-boy dancer Dickson Mbi perform the extraordinary feat of dancing on a vertical plane. It takes strength and balance (Franzén is also a dedicated rock climber), but their graceful, molten manoeuvres combine a fusion of the human and the monumental that’s powerfully affecting – and a true homage to Rodin’s art.
Click here to view original article on The Guardian website.
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Tommy nominated a Critics’ Circle National Dance Award “Outstanding Male Performance (Modern)” for the 2nd time.
I have for the second time the great honour of being nominated in this category. This time for my efforts in Some Like It Hip Hop and The Rodin Project. Last time it was for Blaze and Goldberg.
Kate Prince got nominated for Best New Modern Choreography for Some Like It Hip Hop. Although it was also choreographed Carrie-Anne Ingrouille and myself, they have chosen to just mention one choreographer.
Teneisha Bonner was also nominated for Outstanding Female Performance (Modern).
That makes it 3 nomination for Some Like It Hip Hop this year!! Very pleased
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The Daily Express
Sunday November 4,2012
5 stars by Jeffery Taylor
RUSSELL Maliphant is now Britain’s leading modern dance creator. Two years ago his AfterLight won awards right left and centre and I believe his Rodin Project will top even that.
Franzen, Gulgec and Dickson Mbi appear and join up in an erotic adagio, portraying inanimate statues into which Maliphant magics flesh and blood. Irresistible.
In the second half, the action is modernised. Held up for closer inspection is the harsh reality and hidden soul of Rodin’s work.
Then there is another extraordinary duet between Franzen and Gulgec. In slow motion they glide up and down, sometimes in a question and answer fugue, others harmoniously together, always searching, endlessly listening.
Maliphant’s The Rodin Project is a unique contribution to the art of dance.
The Evening Standard
Russell Maliphant’s new work opens, appropriately enough given the artist who inspired it, like a fin de siècle fantasy of classical Greece.
In a sumptuously sleazy atelier, hung with fabrics, six figures arrange themselves on what looks like a huge bedsheet flung across a mountainous heap of cushions. The symbiotically responsive glow of Michael Hulls’s lighting is already starting to fragment their bodies, isolating muscles, limbs and lines of tension in a way that gets more aggressive as the dance evolves.
The men are dressed like fighting slaves in diaper-loincloths, and the women like racy priestesses. As Alexander Zekke’s specially commissioned cello score slowly yearns for something it can never quite place, they model as athletes and wrestlers, sirens and waterbearers.
Tommy Franzén, a human rubber ball recently seen in Some Like It Hip Hop, engages Tomasin Gülgeç in a circling, capoeira-style contest just after being puppeteered across the stage by Jenny White, using rods of the sort on which sculptors impale clay limbs to hold them in place. The sublimation of piercing and control, as coldly erotic as it is beautiful, would have thrilled the heart of J G Ballard.
At the start of the second part the clothes are modern and the fabrics stripped away, revealing metal walls and ramps, like a brutalist playground in a nursery school for free runners. The dancers hang, slide, tumble and contort themselves, while the choreography shapes a language of delight from a vocabulary of torment.
With The Rodin Project, Maliphant has made something formal enough to satisfy the Académie, and sexy as (the Gates of) Hell.
By Jann Parry
Rodin, like Degas, frequently sculpted dancers in action, leaving the statuettes roughly finished rather than sleekly polished (unlike some vile modern figurines of ballet dancers). They were trying to capture transient moments in solid, static images – far harder than a choreographer turning those frozen forms back into movement.
Rodin’s art and life have been the subject of many ballets – at least four in recent years, inevitably involving his love affair with the sculptress, Camille Claudel: all too easy for a choreographer to recreate her as the model for The Kiss, or for a Muse or Nymph. Russell Maliphant mostly avoids the obvious in The Rodin Project by insisting in a programme note that the piece isn’t biographical: ‘It’s about the inspirations that we take from Rodin and what inspired him’.
In Afterlight, Maliphant and his lighting designer, Michael Hulls, animated Nijinsky’s obsessive circular drawings into a remarkable swirling solo for Daniel Proietto. Nijinsky’s troubled musings were spun into dance. In The Rodin Project, Maliphant and Hulls transform dancers’ flesh into plaster, marble or bronze as they assume poses from Rodin’s sculptures. Spectacularly top-lit, their lithe bodies lack the rough-hewn power of Rodin’s creations (or Claudel’s). Only in the second part of the piece, referring directly to Rodin’s The Gates of Hell, do the dancers accomplish the feverish, off-balance movement the sculptor worked for 30 years to immortalise.
The Project is split into two halves: white, soft and slow; dark, hard and fast. In the first half, Es Devlin’s sloping set suggests an artist’s studio. Heaps of cloth used for clay and plaster modelling are piled high; swathes of suspended fabric are pulled aside to drape women’s bodies. Since the women already wear mini-togas and the men are in loincloths, they presumably represent the classical statuary that Rodin studied. Alexander Zekke’s assertive score sounds like the scrapings and tappings of chisels.
The choreography seems to evolve from conventionally graceful arm-wavings for the three women to warrior-like encounters for the men . En route we see the erotic intertwining of The Kiss couple and the incarnation of statuesque Dickson Mbi as The Thinker. Everything happens hazily in slow motion, preparing for Rodin’s monumental vision of the chaos of Dante’s Inferno in the second half.
Now the six dancers are either in street clothes or virtually naked. The set, stripped of its sheeting, is all hard angles with a steep wall at the back. The unyielding surfaces serve as slides and diving boards for parkour acrobatics. In The Gates of Hell figures writhe and tumble in high relief around the frames of doors Rodin designed for a museum entrance. The effect is so destabilising that it’s hard to tell whether the damned souls are climbing or falling. Rodin recycled some of the figures as stand-alone statues, including the crouching Thinker – maybe originally intended as Dante.
Maliphant isolates his dancers in sequences punctuated by blackouts, as though featuring different aspects of Rodin’s creations. After a virtuso group display of leaps, spins and rolls over each others’ bodies and the set, there’s a sudden stillness. Hulls’s golden lighting sculpts a nude female body in sensual curves and dusky folds. The men come forward to arrange her positions on a plinth – a lapse of judgement on Maliphant’s part. They’re wearing cloaks that make them resemble The Burghers of Calais, or Rodin modelling Camille. Once they’ve gone, the music goes soulful for her fluid, lonesome solo: beautiful but verging on dance as look-at-me-art. (For a spectacularly bad example, see Boris Eifman’s Rodin ballet on YouTube.)
Then it’s the turn of Dickson Mbi to become a Rodin bronze, which he does heroically. He’s the most anguished soul of all, striking knotted poses and bringing different muscles into play, burnished by light from above. Tommy Frantzen springs into action in an athletic solo, fusing breakdancing and capoeira as though he were molten metal. The music, harsh for the group’s tumbling, eases into jazzy droning. The women, three graces or shades, mark time by the back wall, three muses or shades.
The climax of the entire piece is a breathtaking duet for Franzen and Mbi, treating a vertical surface as though it were the floor – the disorienting device of Rodin’s doorway. As if magnetized, they cling to the wall and each other’s bodies, changing places and defying gravity until Frantzen hangs down Mbi’s back. The duet starts and ends with Frantzen perched on top of the vertiginous wall. The piece should finish on the high note of the duet. Instead, there’s a group finale with supplicant hands (Rodin sculpted lots of pairs of hands) picked out in light.
The Rodin Project suffers from the same structural problems as Maliphant’s expanded Afterlight. He’s poured his and his dancers’ creative energies into a superb solo or duet. Then he’s added sequences for more dancers based on improvisation around an artist’s life and work in order to make a ‘full-length’ evening of dance. Though Hulls’s mesmerising lighting skills help make the various aspects cohere, they still have the feel of workshop segments filling out the music until the real reason for the piece arrives.
5 Stars by Alice Audley
Inspired by the controversial French sculptor Auguste Rodin, award-winning choreographer Russell Maliphant has directed yet another extraordinary dance performance – The Rodin Project.
Opening in Angel’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Maliphant’s production was both fascinating and exhilarating, while also deeply unnerving. Gentle stroking, elegant spinning and torsos intertwining romantically one minute were harshly juxtaposed with jutting spines, angled limbs, writhing bodies and rasping rib-cages the next.
In particular, dancer Dickinson Mbi’s (who was spotted by Maliphant just last year at Sadler’s Wells) manipulation of his body made for addictive viewing. His shoulders parted from his neck, his legs wandered from his hips, his back curved from his stomach in a series of completely disconnected, yet utterly connected human expressions. His body appeared possessed, lost and out of control, yet he was controlling it.
Designed by Es Devlin and Bronia Housman, the set had three main changes. At the performances’ opening, the audience were softly brought into a white calm space. Four large drapes hung from the top of the set to the bottom (upstage) – their ends tickling the stage floor happily, behind which rested a jigsaw of blocks: some smooth, some edged and all white.
The three female dancers stepped on to stage in costumes, designed by Stevie Steward, that directly reflected the set – white togas, tied loosely around their shoulders, midriffs and waists. They looked like Vestal Virgins as they slowly peeled back the four giant pieces of cloth. Peeling aside the purity, calm and relaxed pretense of human nature for the demonstration of the raw actual interior of being that Maliphant was about to thrust us in to.
The second set was black – all cloths, drapes and white material were removed. The jigsaw centerpiece, that had been softened by its cover, now stood stark and angular. The dancers surrounded it, not so much approaching the stage but hunting it. Eerie, inverted and tumultuous, the dancing predators preyed on each other, replicating segments of movements in a perfect organisation of the disorganised.
The third set still had jigsaw-effect cubes and remained black, but it also featured an eight-foot wall, on which the homoerotic laced, anti-gravitational routine of dancers Tommy Franzen and Dickinson Mbi performed a routine that rendered the audience mute and gained a standing ovation. A testament to the physical and mental strength of the human being, the piece, tinged with rejection and resilience, was exceptional.
Visible throughout the entirety of the production were the fleeting bodily reincarnations of Rodin’s works – The Thinker, The Walking Man, The Age of Bronze and most hauntingly, The Gates of Hell – were all scattered among the dancers and were brought ever so much more to life by the ethereal lighting of Michael Hulls.
This lighting combined with the scratching, uncomfortable and brilliant music from Russian composer Alexander Zekke, unfolding Maliphant’s story further than pure dance ever could. Near the end of the performance, the six dancers stood by beams of thin white light and desperately grappled with their hands trying to take a hold of it. It was as if the light was divine understanding and, like the dancers unable to contain it, it was as if Maliphant was saying that although we can get glimmers, we will never be able to control or fully understand life.
From poised, chaste Vestal Virgins, to a naked temptress; from a testosterone-fuelled, neanderthal-esque fight, to a homoerotic scene of repression – Maliphant’s The Rodin Project captures the contrasts and angles of human nature, in a performance that is truly magnificent.
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