Breaking convention presents Pierre Rigal’s Scandale
September brings the beginning of a beautiful quest for Breakin’ Convention, to regularly programme longer Hip Hop theatre pieces. BC artistic director and founder, Jonzi D, talks to us about French choreographer Pierre Rigal’s Scandale, which is the first of many hour long Hip Hop theatre shows storming the main stage of Sadler’s Wells. Investigating the beginnings of choreography, Breakin’ Convention marks the UK première for Pierre Rigal shamanic work Scandale, at Sadler’s Wells on Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 September. Scandale combines six agile Hip Hop dancers and a musician to allow rhythm, sound and music to come together as one and to ask ‘is music or movement the mother of dance?’
How is Peter Rigal connected to BC?
I am really interested in Pierre Rigal as an artist. His previous work at BC was indicative of his dynamic use of lighting and his strong understanding of the scenography of space. He has worked with a variety of different companies; from classical ballet to contemporary dance. In terms of his visual aesthetic, he has incredible idiocrasies to his work. I’m interested in him for Breakin Convention Presents… (a new initiative presenting feature-length Hip Hop theatre works at Sadler’s Wells) because he is working with a breakdance crew by the name of Yeah Yellow. He pulls out from them something that they don’t normally do. You can see that Yeah Yellow trust and believe in his vision. It’s really good because it can be a challenge for a breakdance crew to work with a contemporary dance vision. Sometimes it’s a bit like oil and water but I think that Pierre Rigal works with these dancers in particular, really well. I also love the fact that there’s live music for this piece. Just recently we did a collaboration with Jazz re:freshed. So, for me, there’s a connection with the idea of live music being part of a Hip Hop dance performance, which I would like to continue to involve in the work that I programme.
How did you meet Pierre Rigal and why did you chose Scandale for BC presents?
I went to see a show in France and I saw his work there. I immediately booked it for Breakin Convention.
Scandale feels timely. It has a lot to do with the live music and this approach to producing Hip Hop theatre. It’s important for BC to present this work because I feel Hip Hop theatre’s artistry can be restricted by recorded music. I think that some interesting work is emerging via experimenting in the space and the music at the same time. The music is bespoke, rather than the track imposing itself on the vision. Hip Hop theatre has used the recorded music format for a while and it’s been successful, but I think we would be limiting our vision if were to continue to not push the boundaries and move into other realms of experimentation.
Is Breakin’ Convention Presents… a one off or is this something you wish to continue?
This is the first of many … I haven’t necessarily cleared it with Alistair Spalding (artistic director of Sadler’s wells) yet but yes this is the first of many! I was getting fed up of telling people to cut their work in order for it to fit the criteria of Breakin’ Convention festival, which predominantly supported short length pieces. This way of presenting feature-length work seems to be the natural progression for Hip Hop Theatre. I felt that the festival wasn’t big enough for the vision of the choreographers that are working on longer bodies of work, therefore, with Breakin’ Convention presents it seemed like a necessary development to accommodate this. I think the format of Breakin’ Convention presents will definitely have a long legacy, not only because of this progression but, because of what it means for the audience. As well as pushing further the possibilities for how Hip Hop theatre is presented in Sadler’s Wells, it opens up opportunities for the audience, as it allows for more space to enjoy a larger vision.
Which audience do you think this show is for, Hip Hop or Contemporary dance?
I used to think there were two different audiences. I think there’s a third audience and I think that audience is quite savvy with theatre, Contemporary Dance and Hip Hop. Fifteen years ago, when we first started Breakin Convention, I wouldn’t have said that. Now we’ve managed to cultivate this audience. I think Hip Hop has split up. Rap is polarised from dance and graffiti and djing even. I think Hip Hop theatre, is another option to get into Hip Hop or theatre as it allows space for the elements to unite. Fifteen years down the line there is kids that understand that Hip Hop is theatre because that’s their experience. Sadler’s Wells already has a contemporary dance audience that is used to this choreographic set up but not the movement language. I think this will bring a new audience for BC.
What do you want people to leave with?
I want people to leave with questions, as the piece proposes them rather than an obvious narrative structure. It’s a piece that’s looking to explore the ‘beginnings of choreography’, which I think is crazy. Pierre is questioning whether music at inspires the choreography or does the movement inspire the choreography and the music come after. My upbringing, as a result of studying at London Contemporary Dance School has made my approach to choreography about the translation of information and identifying the best way to present it. I think that sometimes no music is the best way of translating the idea, so I am interested in Pierre’s work as it deals with these questions. It’s something that the Hip Hop community can learn from, as, if I were to generalise, most people would contest that it’s the music that inspires the movement. Is music the way to create movement? I don’t think so. We’re in a different space now. There are different motivations and it’s great that this particular piece is looking at that. To what extent people will pick that up I don’t know but I’m interested to find out.
Breaking Convention Presents…Pierre Rigal’s Scandale is on 5th & 6th September 2018
Sadler’s Wells, EC1R 4TN
Performances at 8pm
Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 or www.sadlers.com