Pho­to­graphy by Maurice Van Der Meijs

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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Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.