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Review: ‘Red Bull Flying Bach’ at The Warner Theatre

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Not a soft drink, not a circus, Red Bull Flying Bach, with music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, and conducted by Christoph Hagel, and choreographed by Yui Kawaguchi (contemporary dance) and Vartan Bassil (breakdance) is a Hip Hop\Classical de jour playing at Washington, DC’s historic Warner Theatre. This spell-binding show is Bach in tennis-shoes. You’ll burn calories merely watching this first-class, audacious musical experiment.

The show includes some of the best breakdancers in the World, namely the ECHO Klassik award-winning Flying Steps breakdance troupe, which is led by Bassil, the Founder and Creative Director, and includes Michael Rosemann (Mikel); Benny Kimoto (Benny); Niranh Chanthabouasy (Lil Rock); Pierre Bleriot (Punisher); Yamine Manna (Spider); Gengis Ademoski (Lil Ceng); Khaled Chaabi (KC-1); Rymon Zacharei (AKA Rayboom); Nordine-Dany Grimah (Nono); Uwe Donaubauer (Bboy Real); and Timothée Andriamanantena (Bboy Tim). The head-spins, leaps, popping, and locking in the show will leave you with a pleasant vertigo.

Following Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier,” the show began with the contemporary dancing of , amid the backdrop of Warner’s impressive proscenium stage, including a black floor with two golden bulls painted on it and an upstage-projection screen. Holmström’s classical pirouettes graced the stage, quickly followed by several member of the Flying Steps; indeed, the story centers around a crew performing a dress rehearsal at a studio who then get interrupted by a mysterious woman; from there breakdance meets contemporary dance—with a dash of romance. Will the two worlds prove to be compatible? Will they somehow harmonize?

Flying Steps perform during opening night of Red Bull Flying Bach at The Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois September 25, 2015. Photo by Carlo Cruz, Red Bull Content Pool.

Though there were no spoken words, the dancers told a story, and even produced a few laughs via body language. Amid a purple backdrop Manaa’s Spider and Anna (Holmström), fell in love. At times, Visual Content Managers Pfadfinderei and Marco Moo made use of filmed clips of breakdancers and contemporary dancers on the upstage screen. Hagel’s piano kept things lively, as did the occasional techno and Hip Hop music.

Chanthabouasy’s Lil Rock stood out as the fedora-wearing leader of the on-stage pack. His character channeled Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. Donaubauer’s Bboy Real impressed as well. There were too many hand, head, and back spins to reasonably count.

The Flying Steps, decked out in black sweaters and bowties, thanks to Costume Designer Mascha Schubert, absolutely slayed the stage in their sizzling redition of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor”. The number, which included Holmström, ever-so-briefly touched that rarified air of unified perfection not found in musical dance routines except for the likes of films like 1961’s West Side Story.

I enjoyed myself—I could do those moves thirty pounds and thirty years ago (not really). You’ll enjoy the show too. If you miss this one, the Flying Steps’ next Red Bull Flying Bach will be in Baltimore, on Tuesday, January 10th. Prepare for wonderment.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Red Bull Flying Bach plays through January 8, 2017, at the Warner Theatre – 513 13th Street NW, Washington, D.C. For tickets, purchase them at the box office, call ticketmaster at (800) 551-7328, or purchase them online

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