We speak to Roché Apinsa and Ruben Chi, the founders of the Ghetto Funk Collective, about their passion for funk culture, the importance of music to their creative process, and how they pay homage to the legends of funk music and dance in their performances. They discuss their upcoming performance, “It’s on the one,” at Breakin’ Convention 2023 , which is in London and touring the UK, and the significance of the platform for dance groups like themselves.
How did Ghetto Funk Collective come together, and what was the inspiration behind creating a funk-fuelled movement?
Ruben Chi and Roché Apinsa, two top notch dancers / choreographers from the Netherlands, created the Ghetto Funk Collective. We first came together for our love for dance & funk culture, after a while this love for what we do turned into a vision. We wanted to fuel the dance style “Locking” by making new noise in the dance scene back then, we felt that the global Locking scene was going in a specific way and we wanted to do it differently, we went our own way and did that unapologetically. Recognizing the significance of sharing our vision with others who shared the same passion and purpose, we reached out to our people to join our movement, culminating in the formation of the Ghetto Funk Collective. With a passion for creating and sharing dance, music & art that makes people move, the Ghetto Funk Collective from Amsterdam is a group of creative individuals who became family.
Can you describe your creative process for developing your performances, and how do you work together as a collective of artists?
Roché: When we create, we work from music, and it’s all about feeling for us. Defining our creative process can be challenging since it’s often intuitive and spontaneous. It’s not always easy for someone who’s not part of our collective to understand. We always start with the music, and it sets the tone for our creative work. It gives us a certain feeling that fuels our creation.
Ruben: For us, music is the foundation that brings us together, whether we’re dancing, organising an event, or teaching. It acts as the glue that binds us and inspires us to create.
What can audiences expect from your performance of “It’s on the one” at Breakin’ Convention 2023, and how did you develop this particular piece?
Roché: It’s on the one” is inspired by the essence of Funk music — The One. It’s a homage to James Brown, a big inspiration for our dance. And how we use this in our dance, and in our connection with each other — first and foremost We want to share our connection with the music and how this intimate relationship with the music is fuelling our dance We really want to leave a feeling behind that makes people want to jump out of their chairs and enjoy the dance with us So, expect one hell of a funky party.
How important is the history and cultural heritage of funk music to your work, and how do you pay homage to it in your performances?
Ruben: I think we always try to work from the essence and learn from the greats that came before us.
Roché: The feeling of the performances from that time infused to the present.
Roché & Ruben : We draw a lot of inspiration from legendary figures like James Brown, the Nicholas Brothers, Ghetto Brothers, Don “Campbellock” Campbell and the legendary original Lockers. They are our sources of inspiration and our foundation. We pay our respects to them by learning from them and incorporating their ways of moving into our own unique approach. At the same time, we honour them by being true to ourselves and pushing the boundaries of our craft. We strive not to imitate, but to innovate and put our own spin on things while keeping their legacies alive.
How does Ghetto Funk Collective incorporate different art forms, such as music and DJing, into your performances and overall artistic vision?
Ruben: I believe that our collective creativity is first and foremost a result of our individual strengths in our respective disciplines. By coming together, we exchange ideas and all these different forms of art converge to create something unique. Sometimes, our creativity is sparked by events or parties that we organize, while at other times, it stems from the foundation of a movement and a community. From there, everything grows and evolves.
Can you talk about the role that dance plays in funk music, and how you incorporate different funk dance styles into your performances?
Ruben & Roché: I think funk is more than just music, it’s an expression, a feeling. The original funk artists created a movement that was fuelled by the energy and intention behind it, not just only the music. Watching James Brown, for example, you can see that it’s not just about the music but also about the message, the energy behind it and how it all comes together. You just know when it’s that funk, you can’t fake it When we dance, we pay respect to the roots and traditions of locking, but when we dance to funk, we don’t limit ourselves to specific moves or styles. Instead, we let different styles come and melt together and for those brief moments, it’s just us and the music.
How did you get involved with Breakin’ Convention, and how important is it as a platform for dance groups like yourself?
Ruben: We have been familiar with Breakin’ Convention for a long time as it is a leading convention in our genre. It pushes hip hop culture deeper into the theatre world and status quo. Last year, I had the opportunity to shadow and talk with Jonzi D, the artistic director of Breakin’ Convention, to broaden my own artistic perspective, which was really eye-opening. And now, to participate with the collective a year later is fantastic.
What are your plans for the future, and how do you hope to continue to develop and evolve as a collective of artists?
Roché & Ruben: We’re excited about the upcoming Breakin’ Convention tour. Besides we are currently working on a new performance called “GROOVE” with The Ruggeds, one of the sickest breaking crews in the Netherlands,. We will also continue organizing our own party where all elements of our collective comes and thrive together, during the SummerDance Forever festival in Amsterdam, August 2023. Additionally, we have some amazing collaborations in the works that we can’t wait to share with everyone. But most of all, to keep on evolving ourselves as artists, to represent the spirit of funk in the 21st century and to keep on pushing the boundaries of funk music & dance. To keep on elevating this unique sound, movement and experience. We commit ourselves to make a positive impact on this world — Like Funkadelic, we want to bring “one globe under a groove.
Catch Ghetto Funk Collective live at Breakin’ Convention 2023 (London) 28th April — 1st May
Tickets available here
Breakin’ Convention 2023 UK Tour Dates and Cities
17 May — Poole at Lighthouse, Poole Centre for the Arts
20 May — Canterbury at The Marlowe
23 & 24 May — Plymouth at Theatre Royal Plymouth
27 May — Norwich at Norwich Theatre Royal
31 May — Nottingham at Royal Concert Hall
3 June — Brighton at Brighton Dome
7 June — South Shields at The Customs House
10 June — Blackpool at The Grand
13 & 14 June — Birmingham at Birmingham Hippodrome
Tickets available here
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