jookin swan

This morning I want to share a fantastic collaboration I’ve just become aware of:  Yo Yo Ma & Lil Buck.  These two names do not seem to really roll off the tongue when put into the same sentence, do they?  But they should…

Lil Buck performs an interesting style of dance called jookin (also known as “gansta walking”), which was created in Memphis, Tennessee.  While there are many different forms of this technique, jookin is often characterized by the dancers’ smoother-than-butter body rolls, arm/hand choreography and footwork (watch the video above and you’ll notice that these dancers spend a good deal of time on their toes- not unlike ballet dancers).  Which is why it would come as no surprise to those versed in jookin (you can probably tell by the way I’m describing it that I am not one of those people), that the music of classical cellist Yo Yo Ma inspires such beautiful movement from Lil Buck.  The fact that it all came together with Camille Saint-Saens’ Dying Swan, a piece of music that everyone in the ballet world has an undeniable soft spot for, really is the cherry on top.

Perhaps what I love most about this video, though, is Lil Buck’s interpretation of the music.  It’s as if there are no barriers between his body and the music.  His ears take in the notes and his body produces what his mind makes of them.  I also love his references to classical culture and the original choreography.  Like that “violin playing” sort of step he does at 2:00, or his hyper turned out “first position” at 2:10.  It would be pretty hard to miss that homage to a “swan arm” at 2:44, and if you didn’t squirm/appreciatively smile at his final “dying swan” pose at the end, you have no soul.

This photo was taken at the 2013 Youth American Grand Prix competition finals, where Nina Ananiashvili and Lil Buck performed Dying Swan side by side…935055_10152783608935188_807652483_n

And a gravity-defying still from Lil Buck’s performance with Yo Yo Ma…Yo-Yo-Ma-and-Lil-Buck-LEAD1-560x245125

Aaaand I leave you with a photo I took from the wings as FBPSchool alum and current National Ballet of Canada principle, Greta Hotchkinson performing Dying Swan at FBP’s Together We Dance Gala earlier this season…427971_3856368736238_108261398_n

Who’s the best Dying Swan you’ve ever seen?