Red Bull Flying Bach blends classical and hip-hop

Break dance is performed to Bach is a show seem by 400,000 people worldwide

Hip-hop style and classical music don't seem like an obvious match, but the two come together in a show called Red Bull Flying Bach, which will be in Prague on Sept. 23 and 24 at Hudební divadlo Karlín and on Oct. 1 in Ostrava at Gong.

The show, which has been seen by over 400,000 people in more than 35 countries since 2010, combines Johannes Sebastian Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier,” a series of preludes and fugues from the early 1700s, with modern break dancing. The dancing, which tells story of six students and a teacher plus a mysterious woman, is performed by Berlin-based b-boy group Flying Steps. The music combines the original piano and harpsichord music with new electronic beats.

The group puts on about 50 to 80 shows each year, according to Michael Rosemann (Mikel), one of the dancers in the show. He became interested in break dance when his older siblings were watching a music television station. After trying to learn how to do it on his own in his room, he heard of a workshop in a youth club and joined in 1991.

There, he met Vartan Bassil and Kadir Memis (aka Amigo) two of the people that would eventually start Flying Steps. He was in his own group at first, but Vartan and Amigo asked him to join Flying Steps in 1994. “It was an honor for me; at that time Vartan and Amigo had a big name in Germany,” Mikel told Prague.TV.

The show has been quite successful. “To travel around the world was not new for Flying Steps. We have done a lot of different shows before. But to have such a big success as with the Red Bull Flying Bach was really new for us. You know this show is for everybody. There are a lot of families in our audience,” he said.

“It is always hard work, but we love it, it is fun, and we like it. It is interesting to see so many cultures, countries and cities, and it is always a pleasure to share it with our partner Red Bull,” he said.

The approach was new to Mikel, as he was not a fan of classical music. “I knew J.S. Bach a little from music lessons at school,” he said. He also sometimes listened to breakbeat remixes of classical music.

The show helps to break down cultural barriers by bring classical fans to hip-hop and conversely bringing hip-hop fans to classical music, Mikel added. “Both sides can learn so much from each other, and you can feel and see this in the show,” he said.

Mikel also says it is important to teach the next generation, and he co-manages the Flying Steps Academy in Berlin. “Here the whole dancing scene comes together. This is the place to be if you want meet us or learn urban dance. We support the younger generation in dance and are looking around for young talent,” Mikel said. “This is hip-hop — each one teach one. We want to show everybody how nice our culture is and how artful break dance is.”

Flying Bach will be touring Europe from Sept. 8 to Nov. 6, with stops in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and then be in the US from Dec. 2 to Jan. 22.

For more on Flying Bach,

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