How much did Bristol shape your understanding of dance and music?
At 18, I moved to Bristol, and immediately, I could gauge why great music continues to emerge from here (Massive Attack, Portishead). It’s a creative, left-thinking place. The city is, somewhat isolated from other scenes in the UK, so music and culture has been able to develop uniquely. This was evident with the B-Boying scene. It was proud of its identity and its diverse influences. Bristol also has a strong film and graphic industry, and mixing among artists from these fields inevitably led me to think of art in a multi-disciplinary way. This offered me the networks, confidence and skills to create White Caps that draws from and has incorporated diverse artistic elements.
How much has changed since you began B-Boying?
In the 15 years since I’ve been B-Boying, the change has been massive. In the late 1990s, it was an underground movement in the UK; it wasn’t on TV, or the adverts, and B-Boys were few. Back then people learnt moves and styles from those around them — before YouTube arrived. The technical ability was lower, partly due to lack of access so people were less all-rounded and more specialised in characteristics or moves. In the last five years, B-Boying has exploded as a popular dance form; everyone has access to lessons and the Internet and what the rest are doing. Naturally, technical levels have risen. But B-Boying, these days is more all-rounded, with different styles. But there is a balance of good and bad in this resurgence. Another significant development has been its movement onto stage. This is challenging as it renegotiates its place with a new setting, and audience.
What can Mumbai expect from the White Caps?
The show is called White Caps. It’s presented in film form where the entire show is framed in a cinema-like surrounding. The story is narrated through a mix of live dance on stage and film, projected in front of performers on a gauze (netted fabric that gets transparent when lit from behind). It’s shot in natural environs that contrast with the barren abstract staging for live sections. The root emerges from B-Boying, but the narrative deals with
vulnerability, shame, companionship and aggression. So, it presents a wide range of emotions that aren’t often approached with this dance form. This is also prominent in the emotional score by seven composers who drew from different genres.
Champloo will perform on February 9, at Cross Maidan, Churchgate.
White Caps is the finale to Impulse, British Council India’s season of Contemporary dance.