Bodies breaking and coming together
Mar 04 2022
By Amy Kenny
Even if you’ve never been a street dancer, you’ll relate to the theme of In My Body. The production, coming to the Yukon Arts Centre on March 10, investigates the evolution of self and the effects of aging, using dance as a way of posing its questions and relaying its answers. Though the focus is on street dancers, the experience is universal, says dancer and choreographer Crazy Smooth.
“Any kind of physical activity where you repeat the same movements, over and over, there is going to be a certain level of wear and tear that's just impossible to avoid,” Smooth says. He’s calling from Edmonton, where In My Body is preparing for one of many shows on its cross-country premiere tour. “You get wear and tear sitting down in an office and typing, you know? You'll get wear and tear from standing on your head, jumping up and down, doing squats, you know? So, in that sense, I think that's what the beauty of the show is. Yes, we are talking specifically about street dancers, but aging and putting, quote unquote, mileage on your body is a universal theme … it’s a human condition.”
Smooth knows about putting mileage on the body. Since his first performance at a high school talent show in 1997, he has founded and worked as the artistic director of Bboyizm, Canada’s premier street dance company. He has coached Cirque de Soleil acrobats, and performed throughout North America and Europe. In 2020, he was awarded the Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award by a panel of jurors at the Banff Centre.
In My Body is his newest project. Smooth put it together during a residency at the Centre de Création O Vertigo in Montreal, from 2019 to 2021. It also received a CanDance Creation Fund grant (of which the Yukon Arts Centre is a contributor), as well as investment from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund, and support from the Canada Council for the Arts. The show is both a commentary on aging and, in a way, a product of aging.
Smooth says he’s been thinking more and more in recent years about the aging process. At 41, he’s not yet old, but he’s no longer young. Being at that middle ground gives him a unique perspective on the experiences he’s had and the experiences he’s yet to have. Bringing them all together was one of his goals with In My Body.
That’s why the crew features DKC Freeze and Tash, first-generation street dancers in their 50s (Smooth calls them “the OGs”), as well as middle-generation dancers such as Smooth and Nubian Nene. Then there are the youth, including Jayson Collantes, Tiffany Leung, Julie Rock and Vibz.
He says it’s a historical moment, to have so many generations of dancers collaborating this way. If you go to a jam, that kind of intergenerational mixing happens all the time—the OGs act as judges, the middle generation will be there, maybe competing, and the youth are there too. In My Body has them collaborating in a different way, but a way that still mirrors a dynamic that underscores a simple fact—the three generations can’t do anything without each other.
“If the OGs aren’t there [at a jam], then it's a circus, people don't know that they're going, there’s no wisdom; if the youth isn’t there, then there’s no energy, there’s no sky’s the limit; and when the middle generation isn’t there, there's not that bridge, so communication doesn’t flow as well,” he says. “That’s the uniqueness, I think, of street dance. Where we are always constantly interacting with each other. The fact that that's how we are in our natural habitats is something that I wanted to put a magnifying glass on and bring it onstage.
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Download full show programme here.