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Concert:nova teams with Elementz for Hip Hop

Laura A. Hobson
Posted: Apr 13, 2015 - 2:59:42 PM in news_2015

Members of concert:nova rehearsing with Elementz
Talk about stretching the boundaries.

Elementz Studio KRE8v hip hop dancers and Spoken Word artists will perform "John's Book of Alleged Dances" by John Adams with musicians from the chamber ensemble concert:nova at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (April 14) at the Woodward Theatre, 1404 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine.

“These two worlds that don’t often meet have a wonderful chance to play together, create together and explore the sounds and motions of Adams’ work together,” said Ixi Chen, managing artistic director of concert:nova.  Different hip hop styles subtly weave through various movements of the piece.

While Adams is famous for his large-scale operas and symphonic pieces, "Dances" lends itself to chamber music and dance steps. Written in 1994 for the Kronos String Quartet based in San Francisco, the composition will be presented with original choreography by experienced hip hop artists.

According to Chen, “Much of the piece is rhythmic, percussive and angular; reminiscent of more modern street styles.”

Built in 1913 in a beaux arts style, Woodward Theatre offers a raised stage which allows clear sight lines.  There is also a balcony that wraps around three sides. Connecting performers and audience in celebration of the music is part of the vision displayed in the intimate theatre. Woodward was used previously as a movie theatre, a furniture shop and a Kroger store.

Chen said several of the concert:nova members became aware of the Elementz group and unanimously felt hip hop dancers would be a perfect fit. “We were very happy they accepted our invitation,” Chen said. Elementz choreographers are Derrek Burbridge and Julius Jenkins, who explore the vast, random mind of the artist. Said Jenkins, “Each scene will touch on the various things we deal with, internally and externally, as artists. Ideas of companionship, confidence, fantasy, motivation, acceptance, growth and others will be explored in the piece.” Also, Elementz Spoken Word artists will provide reflections on some of the works.

Chris Rivers, 20, a student in graphic design in the division of theatre arts, production and arts administration the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, found the group by chance. He saw a big
“E” on a building as he walked down Main St. He investigated further and found a role in Elementz as a hip hop dancer. Rivers said he is “excited about the piece” because he is able to do a break dance. “I’m comfortable with it,” he said.  

Formed in 2007, concert:nova performs fresh and dynamic chamber music that blends the traditional and contemporary with a visual twist to explore a modern, kinetic and powerful concert experience. The ensemble embraces the philosophy of artist as citizen, to reinvent the stage and charge the atmosphere with a relevant and meaningful perspective on music performance.

Founded in 2001, Elementz operates under the principle of using hip hop to help inner-city youth find their creative voices and provide an outlet for that creativity. The group is led by executive director Tom Kent, who said, “This is our first collaboration with concert:nova, but it follows and builds on our collaboration with the Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Boychoir. In both of these previous collaborations, we found a way to build a confluence of classical and popular culture that uplifted both.”

“I can, I can.  You can too, just take my hand,” is from the song “I can,” written by Elementz youth.

Also on the program are "Chansons madecasses" by Maurice Ravel, "Fast Flows the River" by Timo Andres and Bela Bartok's Duos for Violin. Performing will be violinists Eric Bates and Rachel Frankenfeld, violist Christian Colberg, cellist Ted Nelson, flutist Randolph Bowman, pianist Julie Spangler and soprano Karen Slack.

Admission is $20 in advance, $30 at the door, $12 for students. Tickets available at concertnova.com/2014-15-season/alleged-dances/