INTERVIEW | ROY OVERDJIK CHOREOGRAPHER FOR THE RUGGEDS DISCUSSES UPCOMING SHOW AT SADLER’S WELLS FOR BREAKIN’ CONVENTION

Photo cred­it — Emile Vrolijk.

Cel­eb­rat­ing the most innov­at­ive and inspir­a­tion­al artists work­ing in hip hop today, Breakin’ Con­ven­tion Presents brings world cham­pi­on break­ing Neth­er­lands based col­lect­ive The Ruggeds to Sadler’s Wells Theatre with the UK première of State Shift on Fri­day 26 & Sat­urday 27 May. State Shift is an intim­ate even­ing of two pieces from The Neth­er­lands-based dance col­lect­ive, both of which are cho­reo­graphed by Roy Over­dijk, includ­ing solo Turns and duet Water­broth­ers. The even­ing is accom­pan­ied by music by Jessy ‘Boi Beige’ Kemper.

We catch up with Roy Over­dijk to find out what to expect.

What inspired you to cre­ate the cho­reo­graphy for The Ruggeds per­form­ance at Sadler’s Wells, and how did you approach the cre­at­ive process?

The rela­tion­ships I have with Lee and Vir­gil were the main inspir­a­tions for this piece.

I felt the need to zoom in and cre­ate some­thing that was more intim­ate and per­son­al. To really extract the essence of the indi­vidu­al dan­cers instead of try­ing to find com­mon grounds all the time. I wanted to show how crazy the cap­ab­il­it­ies of my broth­ers were and how we under­stand each oth­er not only through move­ment but also in life.

We grew up togeth­er, work togeth­er and travel the world togeth­er so this bond we have is very spe­cial. The cre­ation pro­cess was very organ­ic and felt nat­ur­al, the way we inter­act, how we com­mu­nic­ate and come up with ideas and make con­nec­tions is some­thing we do every­day, in the stu­dio but also at the office and when we are chilling or travelling.

Can you tell us about the concept and themes behind Water­broth­ers and Turns, and how they relate to the broad­er theme of State Shift?

In the solo Turns Vir­gil shows how he adapts and over­comes what seems like restric­tions but turn out to be tools for find­ing his free­dom. With Water­broth­ers we show how to adapt to your sur­round­ings and what it’s like to have someone by your side who fully under­stands you. Through our con­cepts and move­ment, we show dif­fer­ent shades of the human being’s adapt­ive ability.

How did you work with the dan­cers to bring your vis­ion for the pieces to life, and what
were some of the chal­lenges you faced dur­ing rehearsals?

The biggest chal­lenge was to choose the mater­i­al because we made a lot… like a lot a lot.
I think we maybe used 20% of all the Water­broth­ers mater­i­al we’ve cre­ated. It was simply too nice to really dive into the ideas and con­cepts and this is end­less. The same goes for Turns where we had a lot of help from Shailesh Bahor­an. His way of cre­at­ing and his approach opened anoth­er realm of move­ment and ways to cap­ture the import­ant moments.

What role does music play in your cho­reo­graphy, and how does FORTBEIGE’s score enhance the performances?

Music is key in set­ting the mood and we use it in dif­fer­ent ways. Where it some­times has the lead and we adapt our move­ments to it, we also use it to amp­li­fy the mater­i­al’s emo­tion­al lay­er and as a part­ner in dia­logue. Why FORT­BEIGE is the per­fect per­son for this piece is because he is a dan­cer him­self and under­stands us like no oth­er. Also being a part of our child­hood and upbring­ing, he can pre­dict where someone is going, why and how he can guide or high­light it with his music. With sound­scapes cre­ated by per­cus­sion­ist Domi­n­ique Vleeshouwer and his own cre­ations he paints a land­scape we move in. Everything is live, in the moment and in sync with the dan­cers and that makes it so amaz­ing to hear and watch.

What do you hope audi­ences will take away from see­ing State Shift, and how do you think it fits into the wider con­text of hip hop and break­ing in theatre?

I hope it adds col­ours and fla­vours to every­one’s pal­let. To spark an interest of the people inside our bubble to see and exper­i­ence what is pos­sible in the realm of theatre, and for people out­side our bubble to get a bet­ter under­stand­ing and appre­ci­ation. That every­body sits next to someone they nor­mally would nev­er meet but can have a good con­ver­sa­tion about the even­ing with and inspire each oth­er to try their favour­ite theatre or companies.

Can you talk about the sig­ni­fic­ance of the Indone­sian cul­tur­al influ­ence in Water­broth­ers, and how it informed the cho­reo­graphy and performance?

With a his­tory of col­on­isa­tion, both of our fam­il­ies came from dif­fer­ent islands of Indone­sia to the Neth­er­lands. Totally dif­fer­ent envir­on­ments so the ele­ment of adapt­a­tion is rooted in our fam­il­ies. The We is some­thing we put above the I, this togeth­er­ness and fam­ily feel­ing is some­thing we carry with us and is what you see when we per­form together.

With theatre typ­ic­ally being High Brow, how import­ant is it for you to be in a space like Sadler’s Wells?

Sadler­’s Wells put­ting their trust in Breakin’ Con­ven­tion and with that in us, is some­thing we appre­ci­ate and celebrate.

With theatres and com­pan­ies like them we can cre­ate bridges between worlds, inspire and get inspired which all are a huge plus for theatre and art in gen­er­al. I know how crazy and highly skilled every­one is, with qual­it­ies that you’ve nev­er seen and moves you can­’t ima­gine pos­sible. This should be seen espe­cially on a stage like this who show­cases the most innov­at­ive and unique per­form­ances. Steps like these bring every­one in the theatre realm more togeth­er to enjoy all kinds of dope things instead of the usu­al split. So if you ask us how import­ant it is…it’s very.

What are your favour­ite moments from the per­form­ance (without giv­ing away spoilers!)?

In Turns I really like how Vir­gil takes you on a path from being very tense and not able to stand prop­erly, to find­ing his way to turn everything around and releases all the ten­sion in his body. The grace­ful­ness and how he uses restric­tions as tools to move more freely is some­thing I really admire and like to watch.
On top of that, I’m off­stage and am able to see FORT­BEIGE and Vir­gil at the same time. How they are con­nec­ted and react to each oth­er is prob­ably my favour­ite thing to see.

What are some of the most mem­or­able moments from your time with The Ruggeds, and how have you seen the collective’s style and approach to break­ing evolve over the years?

I think most of our first times doing some­thing are the most memorable.

Trav­el­ling for the first time, win­ning our first battle, cre­at­ing our first show, get­ting booked for our first inter­na­tion­al tour(S/o to Breakin Con­ven­tion), get­ting our own spot, first time we got fun­ded by our city and our coun­try, doing our first big com­mer­cial job and becom­ing world champions.
Everything we do has an effect on the crew and the way we are as dan­cers and as human beings. We learn from all the dif­fer­ent exper­i­ences and from each oth­er, how we know how to cre­ate, how to per­form, take our time, hurry up, how to organ­ize and how to be organ­ized, help and sup­port every­one’s needs. All these tools made our crew evolve and became part of how we approach our craft and life in general.

Breakin’ Con­ven­tion Presents: The Ruggeds                       
State Shift
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, EC1R 4TN
Fri­day 26 & Sat­urday 27 May                                                         
Tick­ets: £15 — £48 
Tick­et Office: 020 7863 8000 or www.sadlerswells.com

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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.