FROM STREET TO STAGE Yesterday evening the Act 2000 festival got off to a lively start with a dazzling performance of rap, hip-hop and breakdance. The rapper Mr Ballantine enticed the largely young audience and urged a group of dancers to perform neck-breaking hip-hop feats such as head-spins and twirls (twisting round one’s axis). ‘Check it out, man’, he rapped, referring to both this show and the dance and theatre festival for the young. The younger part of the audience enthusiastically repeated Mr. Ballantine’s calls (‘Yeah, yeah’). The older ones were rather quieter, but everyone enjoyed the unexpected act in front of the stairs to the auditorium. Once inside, the whooping, whistling and clapping in reaction to this breakdancing simply carried on. This was the response to ‘2Pack’, a dance performance by the Hush Hush Hush group. Seven young and energetic dancers portrayed seven people from various cultures living together in one street. The set is a sort of open box of bricks in which everyone has their own living space. The interiors vary from cool, with fluorescent lighting above white walls and furniture, to warm, with a red leather sofa, coloured walls and soft lighting. Decorated with Bob Marley posters, a portrait of a veiled woman or a wall of mirrors.
The seven dancers are constantly encountering each other. Two macho lads try to seduce two women into intimacy, but they are not interested. In the end one of these horny men goes after a sex-kitten. The emotions fly in all directions. A woman throw things around in anger, the macho reacts provocatively and another shakes his head as he watches. Shrill music thunders over the stage. The dancing is powerful, with tense movements and clenched fists. Kicks fly out in every direction, then there are breakdance antics and lightning spins. The audience reaction is immediate and boisterous. During the quieter passages, when flashes of light give us a view inside the rooms, you could hear a pin drop.
Apart from the above dance styles, the group can also handle contemporary dance and flamenco. The dance in general radiates energy and strength. It is easy to forgive the unevennesses and other minor flaws. As far as the story and the portrayal of the countless emotions (referred to in the programme) is concerned, one loses the thread after about 20 minutes. I also found the end rather abrupt.
Rarely have I seen so many youngsters of every type in the Rotterdamse Schouwburg. The reactions included ‘Really great’ and ‘crazy’. They said the story was not important. They experienced it as a celebration. Spontaneous bursts of dance broke out here and there in the auditorium. In recent years, rap, hip-hop and breakdance have moved from the street to the theatre. And have thereby reached a new audience.