The Rapper and the Bboy

Juncture – Day 14
Sunday 18 March

Nathan Geering (pictured below in the grey sweatshirt) is a New Associate Artist of Yorkshire Dance, and a bboy. So we were delighted when he signed up for Juncture’s English Folk Dance workshop with BrightFurnace’s Harry Theaker. Here’s what he made of it… which, as it turned out, was a real two-way experience.

“I find myself running up the stairs at Yorkshire Dance as I’m cutting it fine for the beginning of the English folk dancing workshop, ready to ask all the questions I needed to get exactly what I wanted from the workshop. Which was simply to gain an understanding of the essence of the dance form and how it works.

“The first thing Harry asked me was if I had any hard-bottom shoes. My initial thought was, “hell no – I’m a bboy,” then I remembered my tap shoes were in the boot of my car. So I grabbed them badboys and I was all set for the session. Harry decided to keep the workshop informal by delivering it in the reception area over a cup of coffee.

English Folk Dance workshop (c) Yorkshire Dance“So here we were – a bboy, a folk dancer and his musician who played the accordian. Harry began by expaining the use of the double handled sword known as a “rapper” which resembled that of a palette knife with a handle on each end. Unfortunately, due to there being only two dancers, we couldn’t really explore much with these as most rapper dances have 5 performers who weave in and out of each other in interesting and sometimes intricate formations. This was illustrated with a DVD he put on showing what the dance fully looked like.

“He then talked about the dance’s history and began to teach me some basic steps. The steps were quite similar to that of tap dance so it looked like my tap shoes were going to come in handy. They certainly did but only because you could easily pick out my mistakes from uneven sounds my tap shoes made as I tried to keep in time to the accordian player’s rhythm. There was me struggling to keep in time with basic 4 and 8 count sequences and there’s Harry doing crazy intricate steps making all kinds of rhythms while easily keeping in time to the accordian player. It was at that point that I realised that this art form doesn’t just train you to be a dancer but it also to be a musician! This inspired me greatly and after gaining an understanding of how the dance worked I wanted to see how we could play with some concepts and principles to push the boundaries.

“So I asked Harry to try dancing in 5s and 7s instead of 4s and 8s. So accompanied by his accordian player Harry began to try something he had never done before. After about 2 minutes, though, he had got the hang of it and looked like he had been doing it all his life! He seemed to enjoy the new challenges that working in 7s and 5s bought. So as a result I then asked him to incorporate sliding movements in his dance as a means of travelling as in his style they mainly travelled by stepping. It was great to see such a proficient practitioner explore new concepts to push the boundaries of his dance that could potentially take his style into a new direction. The synapses in my brain just kept firing as I had so many new concepts for him to try out. I even ended up teaching him some house dance for him to incorporate in his clogging. Once he learned them he just flipped it into a next level move so much so that I was like “imma take his version of the moves to improve my house dancing!”

“Now before I mentioned that I had trouble making basic rhythms and keeping them even and in time. This was a weakness I identified within the session that I needed to work on. That is until I decided to flip it and take those steps and rhythms to the floor! From then on keeping in time became much easier once I gave the moves a ‘bboy’ twist. I was suddenly able to perform his upright moves on the floor as they were now in a bboy context. This was great as it opened a great many possibilites to me.

“What was even better though was, what had started out as a workshop ended up as a jam session with 2 dancers and one musician bouncing ideas off eachother. Hopefully we will keep in touch and meet up again to see if we can take our styles even further by collaborating on something in the future. All in all a wicked workshop and if u missed it u missed out!”

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