A few days before Flying Steps will perform their latest Big show “Flying Bach”, I met with two “allstars” at the Beaulieu theatre in Lausanne: Ya-Chun Tsai, a Taiwanese ballet dancer (also perfect in contemporary dance, pas de deux, jazz dance, Spanish dance, Chinese dance and even Tai-Chi) and b-boy choreographer Mikel aka Michael Rosemann. Between a few arabesques and some pirouettes, we spoke about dancing and obviously about Johann Sebastian Bach.
What is your first memory of hip-hop culture?
Mikel: I was raised in a large family and was the youngest of all the kids. My older brothers and sisters were all watching MTV. So I started listening to RnB and, out of sight, practiced a few dance steps that I was seing on videoclips. Then I attended a hip-hop workshop where you could learn the basics of graffiti, MC, DJ and breakdance. I chose breakdance which became a hobby when I was a teenager and a profession as I grew older.
Ya-Chun: as a child, my parents didn’t really allow me to listen to this kind of music. I met hip-hop when I grew up and felt attracted to its freedom and its flow. In classical, you don’t really “flow”.
My own ballet teacher – student of Béjart – used to tell me that once you master classical dancing, then all other dances are easier to apprehend. Ballet requires so much of you. Do you feel that way too Ya-Chun?
Ya-Chun: I think it’s physically easier. But it’s a total different mentality that you need to adapt to.
Do you have something to say to people who are sceptical about mixing Bach with breakdance?
Ya-Chun: you never know before you see.
Mikel: first of all, I think you need to be open-minded in today’s world, no matter what you do. 10 years ago when the idea of the show was created, nobody believed in it. We had a lot of difficulties to find people who’d be willing to join us. It didn’t matter from which side: both sides – classical and hip-hop – didn’t believe in it. We decided to do it anyway with respect; we didn’t put the music in the wrong direction. We left Bach’s music just the way it is and show how we could dance on it. Still, there were so many people who told us that it was impossible.
Once the show was created, we invited the medias to come and see it. And they were thrilled after the show. Our first 15 shows were sold-out within a week. All we asked was a chance to show what we had created.
Are you trying to convey a message through this show?
Mikel: open-mindedness is the message. When the show was taken to America where hip-hop comes from, people said “this is the next level, this is the right thing what you guys are doing, go for it”. We had so much great feed-back that we knew we were on the right way.
Ya-Chun, do you consider yourself as a b-girl?
Ya-Chun: I’d like to but I am not. I am a member of Flying Steps. It took me some time to learn but being with those guys together, it slowly goes to your blood to. The steps were not difficult to learn, it was the groove.
Mikel: each dancer is one beautiful member of Flying Steps. And his or her background doesn’t matter because we catch everything.
And it’s precisely this melting-pot that makes Flying Bach such a special show if you were to ask me. Both artists answered my questions while we were sitting on the floor of the Beaulieu theatre until it was time to play Bach and dance. Ya-Chun and Mikel stood up in front of me and did what they do best. Here’s a little preview if you are still not convinced before I meet you on May 18th for the Big show.
Photography & video © My Big Geneva