The Streetdance Spy’s interview with me about dance.
Tommy Franzen ‘Blaze’ choreographer: “I want to produce my own show.”
Twenty-eight year old B-boy and commercial dancer Tommy Franzén started out copying dance moves from sister when he was little back in Sweden. He took up a few classes and he’s never looked back.
Since those toe tapping days Tommy has gone on to star in musicals, appear in films, adverts, and dance talent shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ (SYTYCD) U.K. If you’re still trying to place where you may have seen Tommy – think back to the ‘Pepsi Can-Fu’ advert.
The ‘Urdang’ Academy graduate has achieved so much already, and is in talks to create his own dance show featuring ‘dancing and choreography’. He seems so passionate about this idea, he beams; “I really want my own project that I can put all my experience and heart in to.” I ask if he is worried that as a result of all the success and coverage of street dance in recent years, whether audiences will get bored of it. Tommy explains “Yeah it’s possible but that’s the risk with everything, choreographers could take things so far that there’s no room to improve, but I think that’ll take at least a couple of years.”
The life of a dancer is certainly not all glitz and glam, Tommy recounts jobs where he has had little or no time to prepare and warm up “you’re just on and you go ahead and do it and you don’t have much time to take care of yourself.” While Tommy was in the bubble of SYTYCD he claims he had to ‘block out everyday life’ he said “you need to do that in order to do well, you can’t have your mind anywhere else but in that place.”
I imagine one of the hardest things about a dancers life is the constant physical pressure. Tommy explains there are other less obvious aspects where dance can test you; “it’s also the mental pressure that you go through, it’s the panic of whether your brain has got enough capacity to take in any more information.”It appears, not only do you have to be a positive healthy performer but you also need to be mentally strong. Tommy drives home the point “it’s such hard work to keep training all the time, you need to keep on top of it all the time even if you’re not working.”
No sooner had Tommy finished filming SYTYCD, then he was then snapped up by the smart people of Sadlers Wells to choreograph and perform in ‘Blaze’ the West End Street dance sensation. Used to dancing 10 hour days, the b-boying prince took it all in his stride. He explains that the unpredictability of dance is something he enjoys “you don’t know how much the next project is going to pay, but I kind of like that.
“The thought of not really knowing, I kind of buzz off that.”
When it comes to preparing for dance shows Tommy has rather unorthodox approach. Unlike most dancers he doesn’t hit the gym, oh no, Tommy prefers things a little more risqué, a spot of ‘cross training, rock climbing and sometimes gymnastics’ is more his thing. Despite Tommy’s penchant for dangerous pass times he makes sure he looks after himself and knows that dance injuries don’t just disappear, he laments; “injuries that you pick up are always with you.”
I ask Tommy what he thinks of starting to dance at an early age, he agrees that training earlier means you’ll get more practise at the dance style, however ‘it could mean that you get bored of it earlier.’ You often hear people reminiscing about the past, sighing ‘I really wish I’d kept that up’. Tommy himself is one example of picking dance up at a young age and has years of experience.
One dance forum suggested that all dancers who want to go pro are expected to commit to about 15 hours a week of technique training i.e. ballet, and anything up to twice that during summer months. Tommy explains that taking up technical dance styles that are designed to ‘train your body to look unnatural’ at an early age can be ‘tough on the body in later years.’
The qualified massage therapist, yes you read correctly, feels most comfortable b-boying and conceptualising hip-hop choreography. We start discussing the topic of b-boying, or rather b-girling. He agrees that it is still very much a man’s game “I can’t really think of any female b-girl pioneers off-hand, it would be nice to see more women in that style” adding “you get a lot of b-girls that dance like men.
“It is nice sometimes to see men dance like men and women dance like women.”
Most of the male pioneers of B-boying are old school battlers who stand for the East coast or the West coast of America. The U.S. soul and funk movement is where b-boying was given birth. From the hot stepping feet of James Brown, to battle-zone’s like ‘Harlem World’ of 116th street, Harlem. “I Love dancing to old funk tracks, and I look up to East coast and West coast greats like Mr. Wiggles and the guys from Rock Steady Crew.”
Original Article http://www.streetdancespy.com/?p=34#more-34
This entry was posted on June 12, 2011 by Tommy Franzen. It was filed under Uncategorized and was tagged with 2011, bbc, bbc1, bbcone, bboy, bboying, blaze, breakdance, breaking, choreographer, dance, dancing, ella darlington, franzen, hip hop, so you think you can dance, spy, street, streetdance, sytycd, Tommy, tommy franzen.