by Marcie Sillman
Marcie Sillman breaks down Opposing Forces at her arts and culture blog, And Another Thing:
"I freely admit I don't know heaps about hip hop culture or b-boys. But I do know when a dancer is technically skilled with a full-on commitment to his, or her, art form. That commitment was on full display on the parts of the performers in choreographer Amy O'Neal's 'Opposing Forces' at On The Boards, Saturday October 25th, 2014.
O'Neal assembled five of the Seattle area's most respected b-boys, along with musician/DJ WD4D, to create a performance that both opens the door to hip hop culture for a (mostly) non-hip hop audience, while at the same time allowing the cast members to explore both their art form and themselves as artists. The result...
by Margo Lauritzen
I think I’ve got the address wrong; I don’t know anyone at this party. I look at my invitation, it’s clearly stated that this party is my birthright.
The hostess is not present so I wander about. Each room houses a starling showcase of masculinity. Theatrical moves rule in the ballroom. At the top of the stairs a man, Houdini-like, attempts to escape a padded box, while in an adjacent chamber a muscle man rips off his clothing to reveal a beating heart. In the corridors, there are exquisite pas de deus where the partners keep shifting who is strong and who is weak, who is led and who is the initiator. The pantry has been transformed into a photography studio. In the garden, games of geometric tag are interrupted by flashes of lightening. And then, a masked troupe of com media dell arte players approach amid heckler’s cries, graceful, and mesmerizing.
In the courtyard a young man builds himself from the ground up, showing us his shaky legs, his tremulous nerves, his...
by Dylan Ward
I got a little angry at a friend last night; not uncommon for me in the evening because I get grumpy; suffice it to say the conversation turned to the subject of gender and Amy O’Neal’s piece.
Well, I get real defensive of boys. I’ve been accused of being defensive of boys in the subject of gender talk because I’m a boy or male privilege or that I’m gay and find men attractive.
I am gay and I find men physically attractive but no that’s not why I’m defensive of boys.
Let’s talk about Amy’s piece “Opposing Forces” and see why: the movement was exemplative of why.
Very simply, the alternation between hard and soft movement on a male body which, in order to be perceived as operating “correctly,” usually operates on a level of hard movement.
“Male” movement is perceived as bigger, larger, stronger, by and large. A man moving softly or delicately illicits a response that...
by Eric Pitsenbarger
Wow! I accompanied Wade to a dress rehersal for Amy O’s “Opposing Forces” and I’m so glad I did, though I'm rather envious of the lucky folks who will get to see the actual performances this week-end, as I expect they will be nothing short of miraculous. This is just crazy good shit. Elegant restraint is not what I’d expected but damn! If Amy and her amazing dancers haven’t performed some sort of miraculous translation with this incredible bridge project. Taking a popular street culture in revealing pin sharp story telling and seamless, nuanced staging beyond it’s sources and into it’s next incarnation. This is one of those shows where everything and everyone works overtime to perfect the message and I kinda want to say: that for me, they’ve so successfully stretched the medium in such a subtle yet powerful way that the form is lifted higher. Without sacrificing anything of It’s blunt street cred, with a deft smoothing here and there we get to see more fully represented people...
Tickets are going fast for Amy O'Neal's Opposing Forces. Please note that there is an extremely limited waitlist capacity for Amy. Wait list is available in person or on the phone during daytime box office hours. Get your tickets today!
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"Amy O’Neal’s newest dance explores gender and race from a different angle. Opposing Forces is a work for five acclaimed Seattle area b-boys: Fever One, Alfredo "Free" Vergara Jr., Brysen "JustBe” Angeles, Mozeslateef, and Michael O’Neal Jr. It's the first dance she's created for an all-male cast.
O’Neal says this new dance initially came out of her desire to work with male dancers. But she was also inspired by her increasing affinity for hip hop culture.
'I had been thinking a lot about the value systems between competitive dance, commercial dance, contemporary dance,' she says. 'B-boy battling and hip hop specifically.'
Her ideas started to take shape when O’Neal met Brysen Angeles at The Beacon, a dance studio and school Angeles co-founded with other members of his award-winning Seattle dance crew, Massive Monkees. Angeles had seen one of O’...
"The productive tension between individual spontaneity and the conversational, social elements of b-boying culture is a key element of Opposing Forces. Breakdancing performances—called 'ciphers'—can be planned or impromptu, a battle for domination or a playful exchange, but they're always explosive communications between dancers and spectators that both echo and ignite powerful emotions. B-boy audiences aren't passive—they surround the performers, cheer and jeer, and sometimes step in to dance themselves. The rehearsal I attended was similar: While Lateef practiced a solo under O'Neal's watchful eye, the others playfully improvised around the stage, sometimes flowing with each other's steps and bouncing off one another's movements, anticipating and responding to directional changes and weight shifts. 'Play with things that are awkward,' O'Neal told Lateef, and his tall...
Meet the experts: MozesLateef, Michael O'Neal Jr., Alfredo "Free" Vergara, Fever One, & Brysen "Just Be" Angeles
Learn more about the Opposing Forces performers/collaborators: their crews, histories, favorite moves, and favorite songs.
photo by Steve Korn