Monday, 14 January 2013


Remember how last year I got a little obsessed by this video? Over the weekend, thanks to Dana Stevens' endorsement on the Slate Culture Gabfest, I came (a few years late) to dancer Lil Buck.

Lil Buck (Charles Riley) practises a form of dancing called jookin' - a kind of slow motion hip hop, eerie, weightless, transfixing.

The internet (or a small part of it) went mad for a collaborative performance between Yo-Yo Ma and Lil Buck in 2011, captured by Spike Jonze

A full version of the dance, performed solo, was recorded at the Vail International Dance Festival last year

As Sally Sommer notes in this article in Dance Magazine,
Rather than the clichéd juxtaposition of opposites (fashion model in construction rubble), Ma and Lil Buck are a carefully crafted couple put together by Damian Woetzel. ... 
Riley matches the cello’s notes with unhurried grace, flowing from one point to another, echoing Pavlova with his birdlike toe perches, rippling arms, and, finally, the way he gently melts into the floor. However, because Riley is a well-known Memphis jooker who learned largely on the streets, a question is circulating in the dance world: “Is hip hop going classical?” The answer is: “Sure. Hip hoppers and ballet dancers have been getting it on for a long time.”
Since taking up first yoga and then Brazilian jiu jitsu last year, I've become increasingly fascinated by the human body. I've loved - after years of routine gym work and bouts of interest in running - learning to learn with my body. When I run, it's the odd floating moment you hit that keeps me going; with yoga, and jiu jitsu in particular, its the moment when you suddenly feel your body do something right, not necessarily effortless, but amazingly correct.

When I watch Lil Buck dance, I share a little bit in the way his body seems to escape gravity, but I can also feel hints of the utter steely control he is exerting. When bodies move like this, it is almost like magic.

As lovely as the Dying Swan is, I think I do prefer the dances set to hip hop tracks. This stylised production set to Azealia Banks' Liquorice is a case in point

Or this, which is fluid and controlled and beautiful and strong (and worth waiting out the ending, after the fade)

Self-indulgent, I know, sharing with you the internet wormhole I fell down when I should have been working on my deadlines. But yet - amazing, right?

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