You can call Britain’s Got Talent lots of things, but one fact about Simon Cowell’s television contest holds true: it does highlight talent. Evidence of that can be seen in Flawless, the streetdance group which left the three judges open-mouthed when it demonstrated its moves on the competition in 2009.
Since then this group of 10 finely-honed, besuited dancers have impressed crowds with their unique brand of dance, attracting legions of new fans to their shows and opening the public’s eyes to the spectacular abilities of streetdancers. Since that appearance on Britain’s Got Talent they have become World Dance Champions, worked with some of music’s biggest names and hit the big screen with a film, Streetdance 3D.
Nevertheless, though Flawless has helped make streetdance more popular than ever before, there are still some among us who don’t know the difference between popping and b-boying. With the group currently at the Peacock theatre performing its latest show Chase The Dream, we asked Flawless’s founder and choreographer Marlon “Swoosh” Wallen to explain streetdance to the uninitiated.
Can you give a definition of streetdance?
Streetdance for me is an umbrella term used to describe various dance styles that are often improvisational and social. Streetdance encourages interaction and contact with the spectators and between dancers and that can take place anywhere from the streets and parks to dance parties and playgrounds.
Are there specific moves that are usually included in a streetdance routine?
Streetdance is pretty much free and you can fuse all different styles of dance to express yourself. The overall term for this, freestyle, comes under streetdance.
Do you ever actually perform on the street?
Not often, but occasionally there are launch events or promotional events that take place on the street.
Who/what are your streetdance inspirations?
The members of Flawless are all inspired by Michael Jackson, James Brown, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Nicholas Brothers and the Clark Brothers.
What do the following streetdance terms mean?
Popping – This is based on the technique of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to cause a jerk in the dancer’s body, referred to as a pop, a tick. It was created in Fresno, California during the 1960s/70s
B-boying – A b-boy (meaning break-boy) is a male dancer who practices breaking or b-boying, the acrobatic hip-hop dance style commonly known as breakdancing.
Breakdancing – The same thing but in the dance world a breakdancer is more commercial and a b-boy is more about the art.
Tricking – More a combination of martial art and acrobatics and is recognised by flashy kicks and complex flips.
Gliding – A push and a pull to cause the feet to glide over the floor, taking up more space and creating a bigger illusion, also demonstrated by Michael Jackson and Usher.
Waving – Known as a related style to popping but composed with a series of movements that give the appearance that a wave is traversing through a dancer’s body.
Can anyone learn streetdance and what skills/abilities do you need?
Anyone can learn to street dance but the first step is to have the willingness to learn.
You often wear suits to perform, but what clothes should a streetdancer wear to rehearse?
For Flawless dancing in suits is our style and image. We were the first to streetdance in couture suits. But to streetdance I would normally suggest loose clothing and trainers.
Do you need to do any other form of exercise to keep in shape for dancing?
Running, sit-ups, push-ups and a lot of stretching! You need to build stamina as it is a very athletic dance form.
What about food? Are there specific things you should eat on a performance day?
I tend to stick to protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruit. A good diet helps a great deal towards your performance.
How many hours of training do you need to do before performing a new routine publicly for the first time?
Minimum 4-6 hours a day.
If someone wants to get into streetdance, how should they start?
Head to a beginners class at a local dance studio or fitness gym. Streetdance is very popular now and it’s easily accessible to anyone who is interested in starting to learn. You can find streetdance beginners classes in almost every dance school as well as in fitness gyms or keep fit studios, so my advice is don’t hold back – get involved as it’s never too late!
You all have nicknames – like Swoosh and Steady – is that essential for being a street dancer?
It’s not essential but it does give you a dance personality which you can work on and develop a character and style.
What’s the best thing about being a streetdancer?
It’s a way of expression and you can release all your energy – positive or negative – through dance.