The Can Fu Master

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Tommy Franzen and ‘The Five & The Prophecy of Prana’

I’m so happy and overwhelmed by what the reviewers have said about my performance of Wang Tang in The Five & The Prophecy of Prana. Playing a role like Wang Tang has been a dream role for me since I was a little boy. I’ve always been very much into martial arts and if it wasn’t for my passion for dancing, I think I would’ve gone down the martial arts route instead. So mixing my dream role with two of my biggest passions, martial arts and dancing, I’ve really been able to embrace this whole project on a deep level. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Kenrick Sandy and Mikey J Asante has given me.

For people who follows me and my career I wanted share with you the quotes I’ve had from the press regarding this show. I can’t tell you how honoured I am to have some reviewers writing these things about me…

The Times by Donald Hutera

“The troubled Master Wang Tang must whip them into shape. He’s played by the wonderful Tommy Franzén, a dancer whose economy, agility and strength can hardly be bettered. Franzén might be the reason alone to watch The Five & The Prophecy of Prana.

Original article – http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/stage/dance/article3902282.ece

The Guardian by Judith Mackrell

Tommy Franzén as Wang Tang is outstanding. As an actor Franzén is delightful, convincing both as maudlin drunk and wise seer. As a dancer he’s mesmerising, not only in the virtuoso hip-hop routines but in the silken lyricism of his t’ai chi-inspired solos. In his performance alone, you can see a whole new future for hip-hop.”

Original article – http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/oct/24/boy-blue-five-prophecy-prana-review

The Independent by Zoe Anderson

“Delinquents are given a chance to redeem themselves by training with the monk, danced by the marvellous Tommy Franzén. Franzén is heroic, finding both the dignity of an old sage and the quicksilver attack of a warrior.”

Original article – http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/reviews/dance-review-boy-blue-entertainment-barbican-theatre-london-8901108.html#

The Telegraph by Sarah Crompton

“The leading character is Wang Tang – mentor and teacher to the young gang of five, but a man with a troubled past. He is danced by Tommy Franzen, famous both for his television appearances and performances in shows as diverse as Kate Prince’s Some Like it Hip Hop and Russell Maliphant’s The Rodin Project. In everything he does, he has such silkily, weightless skills he is the epitome of grace.”

Original article  – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/10402127/The-Five-and-the-Prophecy-of-Prana-Barbican-Centre-review.html

British Theatre guide

“Winner of this year’s Critic Circle’s National Dance Award for Outstanding Performance in Modern Dance (Male), Tommy Franzén (Some Like It Hip-Hop and Russell Maliphant’s The Rodin Project) is for me the star of the show.”

Original article – http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/reviews/the-five-and-th-barbican-theatr-9550

The Stage.co.uk by Neil Norman

“The dancers combine streetdance moves with martial arts with some brilliance – especially the amazing Tommy Franzen.”

Original article – http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/39085/the-five-and-the-prophecy-of-prana

Dancetabs by Lise Smith

“Franzén is in fine form as troubled hero Wang Tang, melding tutting and b-boying and kung-fu with the elegant fluidity of a tai-chi form.”

Original article – http://dancetabs.com/2013/10/boy-blue-entertainment-the-five-and-the-prophecy-of-prana-london/

Londondance.com by Graham Watts

“The performances throughout the cast were excellent. Tommy Franzén provided depth to the complicated central character of Wang Tang, the sole surviving good Guardian who battles the demons of scandal and drink.”

Original article – http://londondance.com/articles/reviews/boy-blue-entertainment-the-five-and-the-prophecy-3/

By Hugo GlendinningPhoto by Hugo Glendinning

Show finished 2nd Nov 2014 so as of time of writing there is still time to see the show. Book your tickets here!

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MoveTube: the terrific Tommy Franzén – a National Dance awards shoo-in? By Judith Mackrell

With his quicksilver fluency and remarkable range – from B-boy dance to balletic grace – the former So You Think You Can Dance runner-up deserves to win this time.

Judith Mackrell

Tommy Franzén

Monumental … National Dance awards nominee Tommy Franzén performs in the Rodin Project at Sadler’s Wells. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

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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Russell Maliphant Company: The Rodin Project, London – The Guardian

The Rodin ProjectThe Rodin Project. Photo: PR

Russell Maliphant’s 2009 work AfterLight was created in response to the drawings of Vaslav Nijinsky, to the dynamic energy and tension that the great dancer evoked through pencil and paper as well as through his body on stage. Now Maliphant turns to the drawings and sculptures of August Rodin for inspiration. Using a very mixed cast of dancers – skilled in popping and breaking as well as contemporary dance, and including all-round virtuoso Tommy Franzen – Maliphant aims not so much to recreate such famous Rodin images as The Kiss, rather to draw on their physical mass, form and drama. It’s set to a newly commissioned score by Russian composer Alexander Zekke, with a design team including Es Devlin, Stevie Stewart and long-term Maliphant collaborator Michael Hulls.

Sadler’s Wells, EC1, Sun

Judith Mackrell