ZOOThere’s noth­ing like watch­ing some highly tal­en­ted and skilled young dan­cers to remind you, you have no tan­gible tal­ent. Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to attend the open­ing night for ZooN­a­tion Youth Company’s new work Tales of the Turntable.

ZooN­a­tion Youth Com­pany was foun­ded in 2002 and is known for its work in the theatre, cre­at­ing full-length nar­rat­ive dance pro­duc­tions influ­enced by Hip Hop cul­ture and music.

The Tales of the Turntable show centred on Eric, a young bud­ding DJ who is some­what an out­cast amongst his peers, and his grand­fath­er George, a sleepy (but as we soon learn) music con­nois­seur. Eric’s interest lies in the mod­ern urb­an music of today where­as his grandfather’s know­ledge is in the old, old school. Togeth­er they take a jour­ney back in time for Eric to learn the influ­ences of today’s mod­ern music.

Open­ing to a nearly sold-out crowd, the show kicked off with an elec­tric open­ing per­form­ance with the dan­cers mov­ing through the ven­ue and crowd and onto the stage to begin the first act. Eric is bul­lied and har­assed by his peers who are unable to under­stand his pas­sion for listen­ing to music and DJing, but he does have one fan, a female friend who reg­u­larly comes to his defence.

There was min­im­al dia­logue dur­ing the per­form­ance with speak­ing parts com­ing from a voi­ceover through the speak­ers, this allowed for the focus to be on the expres­sion and move­ment of the dan­cers, and the music.

Eric spends his time alone always with his head­phones on and he wants to use grandpa’s vinyl for DJ prac­tice, but grandpa George wants Eric to know about the his­tory of the music. George is des­per­ate to have a con­nec­tion with the grand­child he lives with and it is through music they bond. Grandpa knows a thing or two.

Using grandpa’s gramo­phone to tele­port through time, the pair travel through his­tory to revis­it influ­en­tial times in music.


Their first stop is a 1940’s jazz club where they see the first strains of influ­ence on mod­ern urb­an music. The jazz sing­er, remin­is­cent of Bil­lie Hol­i­day, arrives to the staged, flanked by her backup sing­ers, she belts out a tune and every­one is up doing the swing.

Next era is the funky 70’s, where Eric learns how his grand­par­ents met. You can’t men­tion 70’s music without men­tion­ing Chic and it is at the record store where he works, whilst I Want Your Love is play­ing, that George first spots his love, Eric’s grand­moth­er. Every­one is mov­ing and groov­ing to the bass heavy beats, and Eric can sense an even more obvi­ous inspir­a­tion for mod­ern urb­an music.

Even­tu­ally, they end up in the 90’s where the cul­tur­al phe­nomen­on of Hip Hop is in its infancy. The crews are doing a new style of dance, break­ing and bat­tling. The DJ is mix­ing and scratch­ing old vinyls from 70s and 80s, some­thing nev­er seen before. Eric learns the ori­gin of Hip Hop and the begin­nings of the cul­ture he is greatly influ­enced by. Even con­tem­por­ary R&B gets a look in, with Eric’s friend’s appre­ci­ation of the sound and a drop of Boyz II Men’s Motown­philly, which had many of the ladies in the audi­ence singing along.


This all cul­min­ates in the school tal­ent show where Eric shows up his naysay­ers with his music­al acu­men and tal­ent on the turntables. Impressed by his skill, his peers show their appre­ci­ation by dan­cing, a mod­ern fusion of the swing, funk and break­ing styles seen through his­tory, an illus­tra­tion and clos­ure to Eric’s jour­ney.

Tales of the Turntable was a trans­fix­ing show with the young dan­cers show­ing up and show­ing out to the icon­ic music genres. Des­pite the min­im­al dia­logue, the show was cap­tiv­at­ing through dance and humor­ous and enter­tain­ing through the per­formers’ expres­sions and move­ment. I couldn’t scratch the smile off my face.

Pho­to­graphy Cred­it : Takis Zontiros


Zoon­a­tion’s ‘Tales Of A Turntable’ is show­ing at South­bank Centre until 27th August. Grab your tick­ets here to see it! 



The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
Kylie de vos

Kylie de vos

Self-pro­claimed Hip Hop nerd, Kylie dis­covered the genre through her older cous­ins in the mid-90s. Since then her interest in the genre has been on the psyche of artists: the how and why artists make the music that con­nects with so many people on so many dif­fer­ent levels.

About Kylie de vos

Kylie de vos
Self-proclaimed Hip Hop nerd, Kylie discovered the genre through her older cousins in the mid-90s. Since then her interest in the genre has been on the psyche of artists: the how and why artists make the music that connects with so many people on so many different levels.