Thurber Theatre at Drake Center – Ohio State University
January 10, 2010
By Steve Sucato
Hip Hop, while still a young dance style, has over the past few decades shown it can have many faces from head-spinning break dance moves to the gyrating hips and butt shaking of music video dancing. Yet another of hip hop’s faces was on display in Grupo de Rua’s H3 , presented by the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University’s Thurber Theatre.
H3, the latest work by choreographer and artistic director Bruno Beltrao, presented the audience with an amalgamation of hip hop and contemporary movement styles that defied singular categorization.
The work, performed by the Brazilian company’s all-male cast began on a stage devoid of any curtains or set pieces with two dancers costumed in street clothes and sneakers standing at the front of it staring out into the audience.
After several long moments one of the dancers lit into a flourish of dancing flavored with pop and lock steps that came off as spastic at first but then decelerated into slow-motion twisting and turning movements that were precise and measured in their delivery.
Full of bravado and posturing the two dancers then advanced on one another circling, ducking, dodging and nearly colliding with each one another as their sneakers squeaked as if on a basketball court. This brand of competitive and combative choreography continued as several other pairs of dancers took turns in similarly constructed riffs of movement; some barking audible puffs of air at their partners causing them to recoil backwards. Beltrao’s choreography for these sections and for the rest of the first half of H3 took recognizable hip hop movement and distorted it into something wholly unique.
In the second half of H3, the troupe’s testosterone-fueled dancing was directed at running as fast as they could in reverse.
Launched into breakneck speed runs backwards by two fellow dancers standing in the wings, a third sprinted blindly in an arcing circle within a rectangular area marked off on the stage. Similarly another dancer was catapulted into a backwards run in the opposite direction. The two dancers then narrowly missed each other as flew around the stage.
The backward runs, all to a jazz score, continued with the remainder of Grupo’s dancers taking turns in the space. This unique movement exercise wound down with the dancers adding break dance, capoeira, modern dance moves at the end of each run.
In a dance world where originality comes at a premium, Beltrao’s H3 proved a refreshing drink of it. It’s blend of dance styles, dancer machismo and raw energy left a unique and lasting impression.
Copyright Steve Sucato