Monday, May 21, 2018

Dance Review: HipOCrit W.I.P. -Progressive Hip Hop Dance and Culture

Joilynn 2 Love New York for how in each borough of this creative city there is a happening community of creative types, -artists, activists, and industry socialites- that band together and have their own sty-lo uniquely characteristic of their own nook within this illustrious cityscape. Tonight, I’m at the free-feeling artist space at the Irondale Center taking in Brooklyn’s urban arts scene of the conscious, dred-locked, “one love” culture. On the program tonight is the JoiLynn Productions’ W.I.P. showing of HipOCrit, a multimedia dance theatre experience fusing hip hop movement, modern dance, and art.

In a large spacious room with tall ceilings and walls covered with peeling green paint, and JBL speakers bangin’ Bob Marley and some low, hip hop grooves, I get to feast my eyes on some intriguing artist installations of child-like macabre, courtesy of Halima Cassells. Inset within the audience, there is an easel with a bleeding American Flag and a set of Yaffa blocks stacked with giant-sized Leggos and half-butchered baby doll skulls pasted to the artwork. On the mirror, you see the red-painted words, “You Are Ugly.” In the entrance, there is a Crayola-colored kiddy tunnel that reads, “Life This Way.” Placed right next to me is a magnifying glass on a toddler table with two Black dollies seated in wooden chairs disturbingly covered in Silly String… Oh, my! After seeing this display of expression, I can only sit in anxious suspense intrigued by what is to come next…

HypOCrit’s first scene’s trio is dope! Holla… Featuring choreographer, JoiLynn, and freestyle artists, Cartier, and Raymond “Spex” Abbiw, the threesome show off their mad skills- which are nothing less than mad hot. Spex is the truth; he comes out and breaks it down with his clear “Kat Kat” hits and smooth transitions. And, Cartier, well… He’s just sick.

Are You Fierce  Join iDANZ Today! As a contrast to the men, Miss JoiLynn pops through with her own style and dances her aaaaass off! Here, we see JoiLynn’s versatility as both a contemporary mover and hip hop dance artist. Her movements are performed with clarity, passion, fully committed to every step. I watch and I BELIEVE! Here, she extends the energy out passed her fingertips, passed the ends of her toes with movement characteristically all her own –no tricks, no gimmicks, no Xerox –just pure “Joi”Lynn… Khack, khack, spin… smooth shape, reach… Ya, girl, I see you… Get it!

Flanking JoiLynn as she goes, Spex, one of New York’s finest hip hop veterans (responsible for teaching hundreds of New York City newcomers the real steps of hip hop at Broadway Dance Center –yes, I said it) and Cartier, a dance artist with some of the illist percussive stylings, lend individuality and power to some of the more unison sections. I love how Cartier works his way down his body -like a human xylophone – chest, chest, knee, knee, invert…down, down, down… It’s like watching him create hip hop music with his body in motion… NICE!

Throughout the show there are a group of five ladies, the corps, which are also known as “The Hipocrits.” These ladies perform the bulk of JoiLynn’s choreography. Every dancer in the group individually appears to be very well-trained; however, due to the possibility that they have only been together for eight weeks before performing this W.I.P., their precision and overall commitment to artistry and JoiLynn’s urban contemporary style have yet to gel.

Other than that, I love how JoiLynn’s choreography uses modern dance shapes with street jazz dance sensibilities in the construct of her group numbers. Being that the steps are rooted in hip hop, it is great to see that modern dance is only used to compliment the street vocabulary. By loosely borrowing elements from the modern construct, JoiLynn uses such things as “blocking-for-concert-dance” and the technical prowess from her classical training to solely provide a smoothness to her movement transitions from one “crack” to another rather than the opposite -starting with technical modern movement and throwing in a couple wave arms and chest pops for no other reason but to appear “contemporary.” Unfortunately, I find (time and time again) that most modern and contemporary dance companies, that abruptly break form into hip hop moves or elements of popping, locking and waving, merely just look like they’re trying too hard to be “cool.” However, in JoiLynn’s case, her dance company, already rooted in hip hop (a pop culture standard), is already “cool” and is simply adding another layer of difficulty with technique, a contemporary construct that makes her sty-lo WORK.

JoilynnIllustrating this, one of the sections most potent is when “The Hypocrits” (dancers) run, very modern-esque, into the audience one by one, slamming towards the artwork. Once they all arrive, they are split into two halves within the room facing each other with about a fifteen-foot gap between the two groups. They then proceed into a dance combination, that just breathes angst of young street culture. As the pulse of the beat rides, a splatter of technique peeks throughout the phrase to provide effortless transition from move to move.

Another one of my favorite sections is a part that I personally like to call the “Live Hip Hop Culture Montage Collage.” It begins with the bounce of a dope hip hop loop played by DJ Lumumba AKA Revolution and the award winning actor, Cactuz..?13 (character name: The Truth), wheeling out a portable graffiti painted wall. The Truth continues to add words and design to the wall with his fat magic marker as he bebops his head to the beat, Stepping out second, Spex comes correct with his wicked freestyle where here, we see what really Spex can do… knee, knee, beat, beat, slide, who wee- Yaas, Spex.. That’s what’s up! On Spex’s exit, Cartier chimes in with his taps and breaks it down with his hip hop hoofin’ style. He sounds great and he looks hot too, I want to see more. Although the staging is simple, this section is most effective… JoiLynn has graffiti drawn live by an artist, a sick hip hop freestyler, a dope hoofer, and a DJ spinning a wicked beat on the one’s and two’s, and at the end, she has the piece come full circle as you see The Truth rip away the Mylar “mirror” off the wall to reveal the hypocrite inside the mirror. Whew… I love it!

To sum it up, JoiLynn redefines urban movement and how to use its evolvement in what we currently call modern dance. Because of JoiLynn’s range as both a modern dancer and a hip hop artist, her personal freestyle in which she builds her movement phrases upon lends itself to creating an original vocabulary, an urban contemporary vocabulary, that is totally all hers, and, can I say… totally Brooklyn.  I can’t wait to see her company perform in the future as it matures together and masters the exciting sty-lo that JoiLynn has to offer.

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iDANZ Critix Corner
Official Dance Review by Candice Rox
Performance: JoiLynn Productions’ HipOCrit
Choreographer: JoiLynn
Venue: Irondale Center, Brooklyn, NY
Show Date: November 4, 2009
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