A former principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater teams up with a physics-defying “flex” dancer from East Brooklyn to create a mash-up of traditional ballet technique and limb-bending hip hop fusion. Yes. This is a real life Save the Last Dance (minus Julia Stiles really unfortunate cornrows).
Photo: Ian Douglas
This fabulous collaboration is the brainchild of Jay Donn and Michele Wiles, the former of the flex documentary “Flex is Kings” and the latter of her own Ballet company, BalletNext. The two met via a mutual acquaintance who yearned to see the chemistry between the very different styles of dancing. There is no Romeo and Juliet aspect to this story. However, these two styles — different as they may appear at first sight— have found an important piece of common ground: storytelling.
Flex originated in Jamaica in the 1990’s, and developed in the streets of Brooklyn thereafter. The movements, which are jerky and contortion-like, illustrate qualities of pain and hardship endured by the performer. To the same degree, ballets have for centuries been an enactment of one fantastical tale or another.
The show ends with a supercharged duel between the two in something akin to a scene in Mortal Combat: over-the-top, dramatic moves that serve the purpose to kill with style. So You Think You Can Dance has nothing on this very real, very emotional mixing of dancing genres.