Neos Dance & Akron Symphony Collaborate with Hip Hop Performers


Fri 3/17 @ 8PM

Sat 4/22 @ 7:30PM

Hip hop has its roots in African-American music and the African-American experience, but it is eclectic, inclusive and innovative. So can Hip-Hop successfully collaborate with classical art forms? And do emerging artists — young performers from Akron-area ArtSpark Team TNT — have the movement skills, energy and commitment to realize that collaboration, so often attempted but seldom achieved?

That’s the question in two upcoming performances in Akron, when ArtSpark Team TNT joins forces with a DJ (DJ Funk Shway aka Byron Eulinberg of Cleveland), graffiti artists, a tattoo artist, Akron Symphony Orchestra and Neos Dance Theatre in dance r. evolution, a brand-new piece.

Dance r. evolution is set to composer Clint Needham’s Urban Sprawl, which is a percussive, progressive piece in its own right. DJ Funk Shway collaborates with the Akron Symphony  to provide Hip-Hop beats during Urban Sprawl. In addition, choreographer Mary-Elizabeth Fenn tells us that dance r. evolution includes vignettes showing how urban artists create.

In the 3/17 performance at EJ Thomas Hall, the Akron Symphony performs live. In addition to Urban Sprawl/dance r. evolution they’ll play Sibelius’ Suite from Karelia and Enesco’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 for new choreography by Neos artistic director Bobby Wesner. In addition the symphony will perform Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat and excerpts of Leroy Anderson’s Irish Suite, including Irish Washerwoman. Music without dancing? What a strange idea.

Neos and ArtSpark Team TNT will reprise dance.r.evolution Sat 4/22 @ 7:30pm at Akron’s Goodyear Theater. Also featured is the world premiere of Holly Handman-Lopez’ new work created during Neos’ Oberlin College residency this spring. Inspired by marriage customs and rituals such as handfasting and bundling, it includes video content rated PG. In addition, they’ll perform Flight, an excellent contemporary dance piece we discussed in a review last year. Go here for tickets.

Never mind us. We’re die-hard fans of Neos and we’ll happily drive for an hour or two to see anything they’re a part of. But even if you’re not a fan of dance concerts or symphony performances, you might give dance r. evolution a look just to see if it represents hip hop as the art form, subculture and social movement that it is.

On Fri 3/17 @ 8PM ArtSpark Team TNT performs with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and Neos Dance Theatre at E.J. Thomas Hall. Tickets are $20-$55.


Learn more about Neos Dance Theatre at neosdancetheatre.

[Written by Elsa Johnson and Victor Lucas]





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