When Street Dance Hits the Avant-Garde Stage, the Beat Breaks Down


Bill Shannon’s strides are as long and smooth as a panther’s, but his turn as a comic MC and choreographer fell short in Sketchy, a series of vignettes using technology and talk to deconstruct street dancing. When the super-stylish Shannon glided in on his customized crutches to live-mixed beats from DJ Excess, we were hyped for some sweet moves. Instead, we got a verbal spin on the “Shannon technique” and, with the help of the Step Fenz Crew, a visual history of street dancing. A highlight was a dance version of the Olympics. Performers entered, described the tricks they would attempt, tried them, and failed (except one). Using Dartfish sports motion capture software, they ran an instant replay; each dancer analyzed his mistakes. This was fascinating, but overall Sketchy broke street dance down too much. Shannon scarcely performed his virtuosic moves, the challenging tricks didn’t make it past analysis, and the group choreography rarely used the talents of the dancers.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 1, 2005

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