Gwen Pew chats with the choreographer and founder of The Flying Steps, Vartan Bassil.
17 Jan 2014: Following their sold-out tour around Europe in 2011, Germany’s breakdancing crew The Flying Steps will be in Singapore this month for their debut performance here. Rather than showing off their fancy footwork to hip-hop beats, however, the group has decided to set their choreography to something decidedly more traditional: classical music. Specifically, it’s JS Bach’s collection of solo piano pieces, ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’. But it’s not simply a dance showcase either – there is also a storyline, which centres on the fights and successes of a group of six b-boy dancers and their teacher, who are later joined by a mysterious woman who sparks off the show’s spectacular dance battle climax.
1 Bassil founded The Flying Steps 20 years ago: ‘I am a B-Boy and as I started with breakdance it was usual to have a crew to go to the battles. So my friends and I formed a crew. Over the years the crew changed a little bit and we grew bigger. In 2007 we opened our Flying Steps Academy, a place where people who like to dance can take classes.’
2 JS Bach’s ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ was selected as the backing track because of its precise, contrapuntal rhythm: ‘With the sharp breakdance moves you have the ability to visualise the music. It matches [the dance style] better than modern dance or ballet – breakdance and Bach actually interpret time, visually and musically, in a pretty similar way.’
3 The idea of The Flying Bach had been in the works for a while: ‘For a long time, I had entertained the idea of dancing to classical music. I had all these pictures in my head and I knew it would work, because what a ballerina can do with her feet, a pirouette for example, we can do on our heads.’
4 The most difficult aspect of the show is the choreography: ‘Breakdance mainly consists of four steps that fit to a certain rhythm, but the classical rhythm follows a different logic, so we had to change our step pattern.’
5 They believe that their fearless attitude is what sets them apart from other dance groups: ‘We are different because we are not scared of any challenges. As our motto goes, “everything is possible!”’