Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Give Me Love"...Kyle Hanagami

Kyle Hanagami represents the next generation of hip hop choreographers, a new breed of dancers who are open-minded and curious about all forms of movement and styles. One minute, Kyle can be seen throwing down fatal beats and accents, and then switching things up smooth and fluid. And then, as if to challenge anyone's doubt as to his versatility, he creates a video like "Give Me Love." This piece is pure, contemporary beauty, with a sophisticated eye for detail and nuance. There are truly only a hand-full of choreographers who have such a solid range of skills, working with equal ability across multiple genres.

MUSICALITY: Sometimes a musician is asked to play a note for all its worth. This level of intensity is known as FORTISSIMO, and the opposite quality is known as PIANISSIMO. These two extremes are the bookends of a musician's spectrum, sometimes they play it LOUD and sometimes it is soft to the touch. In a similar way, dancers have this same range of intensity within their movement. If you are dancing for Justin Timberlake at Madison Square Garden in front of 30,000 screaming fans...your movement will probably be big, loud, bold, and FORTISSIMO. However, this video explores the softer, more intimate end of the spectrum. Look at (2:56-2:58) where Kyle translates the lyrics into simple hand contact that moves up the body from the knees, to the hips, to the chest, and finally to the sky. Its neither brash or presentational...but simply alive and floating on top of the breath. Also, many hip hop choreographers feel the need to choreograph every beat possible. Notice the effective pictures that Kyle creates simply using the first beat of the 6/8 time signature (3:01-3:14) and how it helps spotlight the quick tempo change we see at (3:15-3:17). To vary the tempo in this way, is an excellent example of Kyle's keen musicality and choreographic maturity.

DANCER SYNC: This aspect of SERVINGCHOREO is based on the ability of a choreographer to work within his dancers' physical and technical limits. If a someone were working with a wheelchair non-walking dancer, and asked them to do a split jump...we would say that the choreographer doesn't understand the concept of synching the movement to the dancer's body and ability. This is an important point to make when discussing Kyle's work. The majority of the dancers in this video demonstrate a high pedigree of hip hop talent and vocabulary. This training emphasizes body control and precise isolation, instead of the extreme flexibility and extension that is typical in ballet or lyrical. And yet, Kyle is still able to create a complex, layered texture that is beautiful and authentic within the specific skill set that this group of dancers possess. Look at (1:49-1:50) and notice the round sweeping leg move. In classical ballet we call this a "ronde de jambe en l'aire" (which is French for "round of the leg in the air"), and it is typically executed at or above hip height, with a perfectly straight leg and fully arched foot. The point is, in this context the "classical" or "correct" form of this element would not have served these dancers. Whether it was a stylistic choice, or dictated by physical, technical limitations, doesn't matter. The important point is that Kyle chose a modified version of "ronde de jambe en l'aire" that best served the dancers' body type and ability. It was perfect synchronization!

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: I truly believe that dancers have the ability to say those things that words can never express. There are many times when I experience a situation or emotion which are ambiguous and undefined. However, in those moments of inarticulate writer's block, a physical expression through dance can provide lucid clarity. I felt that the prologue of this video did an excellent job showing the set up and purpose of this project. Dancers who are able to transcend the music-video-commercial-mentality and utilize their talent for a social cause, is uplifting and exemplary. As someone who is active in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer, I have nothing but humble gratitude and appreciation for Kyle's work.

KUDOS to Kyle for honoring human struggle through a deft and touching piece of art. For more info, check out Kyle's Website.

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