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The olive Dance Theatre at the Contemporary Arts Center

Written by  InthekNOwla.com Staff

(InthekNOwla) -- NEW ORLEANS | In the world of break dancing, Ken Swift is a superstar, "the Epitome of a B-Boy." He is credited with the creation of many of the moves and terminology present in breakin' today. Breakin' is a culture all its own and truly American. Last Saturday, InthekNOwla was able to see what all the hype was about at the olive Dance Theatre's "Swift Solos: The Reconstruction of Ken Swift's Century Breakin." Through a series of solos and ensemble pieces entertwined with breakin' and contemporary theatre, the audience was brought back to the 1970s and 80s: Addidas track suits, Kangol hats, boom boxes, old kung fu movies, and just plain ole fun. You could the passion in these performers and the reverence they had for Ken Swift.

"Pivotal to the globalization of the American folk form known as breakdancing, Swift's work as a master choreographer spans over 30 years crossing borders of race, age, culture, genre and venue. oDT's reconstruction of Swift's work focuses on presenting [the audience] with a comprehensive retrospective outlining the breadth and magnitude of this Breakin' Master" (provided by olive Dance Theatre).

From beginning to end, we were kept on the edge of our seats, not knowing what to expect next. One of our favorite parts during the performance was when Ken Swift came out onto the stage. From there, he proceeded to call out a series of breakin' vocabulary words, of which his faithful dancers completed without hesitation. We were also treated to some awesome footage of Swift in his younger days, battling it out on the street, in the gym, on the concrete, basically where ever his feet could move.

Another part of the performance that we enjoyed was the use of the audience in the show itself. Before the performance even started, a man, dressed in a suit with a bandana tied around his head, proceeded to come into the audience and ask some tough questions while recording them. "Who is Ken Swift?" "What have you lost?" "What inspires you?" "What do you dream about?" And right before the intermission, as the performers were finishing up the scene, the recording was played for everyone to hear. It was extremely moving and beautiful to hear each other's answers: "I've lost hope...Love inspires me..."

We feel very privileged to have witnessed one of the greats of American culture. Through Ken Swift, we are able to preserve a part of American culture and teach our young people to not only embrace and respect the old, but to also find the confidence and passion to push break dancing beyond its limits so as not become stagnant and unrelatable. So if you have some free time, put some of those old movies and songs on, and feel the culture. It's all around us and it's here to stay.
 

Last modified on Monday, 21 June 2010
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