CHENNAI: Doors were locked. Curtains were neatly stretched to block the moonlight from narrow slits. No flash photography, it was announced. Egmore Museum Theatre, with each of its seats filled, dissolved into complete darkness. The spell was broken, ironically, by The Black Album — a contemporary and hip-hop dance performance by London-based dance company Avant Garde Dance.
Dressed in black shorts and figure-skating costumes, five dancers from the team used every inch of the stage to display their skill. Whirlwind movements died into stock-still ones in a second, and perfect lines broke into chaotic arrangements. The lights fell on each dancer as if from a keyhole, lighting up the animated expressions and glistening drops of sweat on their bare arms and legs.
The event was organised as part of the eighth edition of The Park’s New Festival, 2014, in association with the British Council. The team, performed in the city on Tuesday, adding a few hundred more fans to the huge number already gathered in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru as part of their first all-India tour.
The 65-minute-long performance by the team, which has previously performed at East London Dance at Stratford Circus, the Barcelona Festival and Madison Square Gardens New York, among others, weaved three distinctly different hip hop choreographies, like a concept album. Tony Adigun, who started Avant Garde Dance way back in 2001, called the choreographies — Omega, Classical Break and Dark Matter — in an interview earlier. During the performance, as one sequence blended into another, neither did the terms matter nor the dance styles. The performance — with hip hop performed to classical tunes and graceful ballet movements in hooded sweatshirts — shattered the conventional way one perceived each style of dance.
Tony, who has choreographed and performed with top artistes from the UK and the US, including Janet Jackson, Usher, Cheryl Cole and Whitney Houston among others, along with his team, had also trained a group of Indian dancers over a span of three days in Bengaluru during their tour. The desi dancers, fresh out of the training, surprised the audience by performing the ‘Avant Garde’ style of dance with ease.