The Flying Steps aren’t your average dance group.
The four-time breakdance world champions (2x Red Bull Beat Battle, 2x Battle of the Year) show us what it means to be a dancer in the 21st century as they combine old world and contemporary culture into their sets.
Just how is this done? The group holds a focus on bringing urban dance and ballet together with electronica and classical music (as in Bach). Red Bull Flying Bach will hit Toronto and Montreal in October, and tickets are now on sale.
The 65-minute show features a group synchronized breakdance to the backdrop of a live performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. The goal is to offer a whole new artful approach to breakdancing. It isn’t always done on the street by kids who are up to no good, you know.
As the Flying Steps appropriates Bach, their shows become an attraction for multiple generations, giving the older an appreciation for breakdance and the younger a new understanding of classical music. Meaning you can kill two birds and bring your grandma and your nephew…
More than being experts at shattering traditions, these dancers are also a group of genuine and driven people. Founded in 1993 by Vartan and Amigo, the Flying Steps continue to flourish thanks to their commitment to each other and their fans. They even started Flying Steps Dance Academy in 2007, a school dedicated to teaching the next wave of dancers.
What makes this crew so cohesive is the unique character each of the nine members play. There’s Vartan; The Leader Of The Pack, Mikel; The Coach, Nono; The Prodigy, Lil Ceng; The Young Gun, KC-1; The Fighter, Aldo Style; The Wild One, Punisher; The Rocker, Yamine Manaa; The Spider and Anna; The Globetrotter. Their individual accomplishments range anywhere from winning nearly all titles in the international B-Boy scene to being inserted in the Guinness World Record for the most ‘1990s’ (continuous pirouettes on one hand). With each role so distinct, there’s no falling in anyone’s shadow.
We recently caught up with Michael Rosemann, aka ‘Mikel’, and Anna Holmström via Skype from Germany to hear a little more about it from themselves in advance of their upcoming Toronto and Montreal shows…
On the Red Bull partnership:
“We were going to a lot of competitions in 2000, and at one of them Red Bull was a sponsor and approached us,” said Rosemann. “Here we are 14 years later. So, the brand is no longer a sponsor, but a part of Flying Steps. We work on a lot of projects and competitions on behalf of Red Bull.”
On the idea:
“We had this idea to mix breakdancing with classical music, but we wanted it to be our own project; we wanted to produce the whole thing ourselves,” said Rosemann. “In the beginning, nobody believed in us or really understood what we were trying to do. But we did it anyway. We quickly realized that it wasn’t too easy, and that we would need a lot of help, mainly from Red Bull. Normally, Red Bull and classical music wouldn’t go together, but you have to think outside of the box. They were on board because we believed in it.”
On the audience reaction:
“It’s so nice to be on stage and see that it isn’t about one type of audience,” said Holmström. “It opens new worlds for people who haven’t seen breakdancing in that light before.”
“Being on a world tour makes it interesting to see how people will react in every country,” continues Holmström. “The audience is all different depending on the culture, whether they’re really rowdy or more reserved and polite. If the latter is the case, it’s fun to try to make them laugh or win them over and make them realize that it’s not just supposed to be some serious art. There are serious parts to the show, but there are other parts where you are really allowed to laugh and go wild.”
“You can’t just go into a show and not think about the audience – it’s like a discussion,” she adds.
On classical music:
“We’ve danced the show more than 250 times and people always assume that we will get sick of the music,” said Rosemann. “But I’ve been dancing forever, and for 19 years I danced to hip-hop music. For me, it’s a completely new, powerful world that inspired me to bring all I have on stage. I think, why didn’t I discover this before? Two-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Bach composed the music for a younger generation. Now the younger generation can enjoy it today.”
On new projects:
“A while back, we decided it was time for us to do a new project, but it was hard to determine what would be next,” said Rosemann. “People naturally thought we would move on to Tchaikovsky or Mozart. But that’s the reason why we didn’t want to do it: we don’t want to be typical. Our next show infuses elements of magic and illusion to breakdancing. It’s called the Red Bull Flying Illusion and it really makes the audience question what’s going on in terms of what’s real and what’s an illusion.”