Contemporary hip-hop dance delves into deep struggles

“BLKDOG,” an award-winning hip-hop dance that delves into depression and the struggle of marginalized youngsters, will make its China debut at the Shanghai International Dance Center Theater this weekend.

Co-produced by Sweden’s Norrlandsoperan and England’s Sadler’s Wells, “BLKDOG” was choreographed by Botis Seva and presented by dancers of his Far From The Norm company.

The name of the dance is inspired by English journalist and writer Sally Brampton’s 2008 memoir “Shoot The Damn Dog,” a partial reference to Churchill’s description of his depression as a “black dog,” which recounts Brampton’s experience of the condition and periods as an in-patient.

“BLKDOG” is Seva’s haunting commentary on surviving adulthood as a childlike artist, exploring the inner battlefield of an aging artist who tries to retain his youth while searching for coping mechanisms in the ultimate hunt for acceptance.

Integrating street dance, body language, and contemporary dance expression, “BLKDOG” pocketed the Best New Dance Production at the Olivier Awards in 2019, a monumental moment for hip-hop dance.

Contemporary hip-hop dance delves into deep struggles

Ti Gong

“BLKDOG” won the Best New Dance Production at the Olivier Awards in 2019.

Born in south London, Seva’s talent as a dancer and choreographer emerged from experience nurtured on the street. Using dance as a personal means of responding to systemic racism and social deprivation, he established Far From The Norm at the age of 19, a company steeped in black pop culture.

In their padded hoodies, the “BLKDOG” dancers appear as a feral street gang on stage, and the work can also be considered a discussion on urban black youth and their ways of coping with hopelessness and fear, though the theme is presented in a humorous and vigorous way.

The performance is part of the ongoing China Shanghai International Arts Festival.

Contemporary hip-hop dance delves into deep struggles

Ti Gong

The dance features hip-hop body language and contemporary way of expression.

Performance info

Dates: November 10 – 11, 7:30pm

Tickets: 180-680 yuan

Venue: Shanghai International Dance Center 上海国际舞蹈中心

Address: 1650 Hongqiao Rd 虹桥路1650号

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