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Sunday, 23 May 2010

Choreographing Streetdance 3D

A selection from the Streetdance 3D production notes with an emphasis on the street dance aspect.
Read our Streetdance 3D review here.

“I had met Kate Prince soon after her show Into The Hoods,” explains Richardson, producer of Streetdance 3D. “I loved the show and wanted her and Kenrick Sandy involved from the start. The idea was for Kenrick to cover the key street dance scenes, while the ballet would be overseen by Will Tuckett, an internationally renowned ballet dancer and choreographer who Kate Prince brought in, best known for his work with The Royal Ballet and films such as the acclaimed Channel 4 series Ballet Hoo. Then Kate would be responsible for the other scenes: all the dance storytelling and the finale when the two dance forms are fused.”

Kate Prince, who is the founder of ZooNation UK dance company and recently choreographed So You Think You Can Dance for the BBC, knew that working on her first film would throw up some new and exciting challenges.
“Working with non-dancers was by far the greatest challenge,” she says. “And the 3D element was very new for me. I had to think about the camera shots and what moves would come out of the camera more.”

Kenrick Sandy established Boy Blue Entertainment in 2001, along with his friend Mikey Asante, when they realised there was a hunger for dance in East London.
“It was never an ambition to create a company,” he explains. “It was more to facilitate our love for dance, and other people’s love for dance.”

Since then, Sandy has seen how street dance has transformed the lives of the young people he has worked with.
“Dance enables people to be stronger characters,” he says. “Whether people dance as a career or as a hobby, they take away a sense of discipline and enhanced self-esteem from dancing, and they’re able to apply that to other areas of their lives. We show people how to express themselves and allow themselves to let go.”

Sandy was excited about the project from the moment James Richardson approached him with the idea. “This is the very first UK street dance film,” he grins. “America has had lots of them so, for me, it felt important to be involved in it. I’m happy that it’s happened, even more so because the market for dance has grown ridiculously. It’s coming out in the right year, at the right time, when dancers are getting more exposure. Plus, it’s an opportunity to show how different styles of dance are actually very similar to each other. When you think of street dance, you think of working class kids on the street and youth centres. With ballet, you think of the upper classes. And what this film shows is that, ultimately, dance is dance. We’re all the same. It’s about breaking down those boundaries.”

Nichola Burley as a street dancer 
Sandy admits that, at first, he was wary about working with Nichola Burley, who had previously had no street dance training.
“I thought Nichola was a very big gamble,” he says. “As the main character, she had to be top class in dance. So I told her to come down to all my sessions and classes before we started rehearsals for the film. She was always there, at the back, training with the Boy Blue dancers. She even did a performance with us at Hackney Empire because I wanted her to understand what it’s like to be in front of an audience. She felt the pressure because she’s the main girl so she was worried about letting everyone down. There were quite a few times she felt like giving up and there were tears. But I was not playing. I told her: ‘Stop crying. You’re the star. Even at your lowest, your troupe cannot see you like this.’ I had to speak to her numerous times on set. But, by the end, people will be surprised to know that she wasn’t a dancer before this. I’m really proud of her.”

Ballet vs Boy Blue?

Will Tuckett has worked with some of the best ballet dancers in the world, but he was still blown away when he saw the street dancers do their thing.
“I’ve been in dance for a long time, as a career, and it’s rare that you sit there and a grin comes across your face because you can’t quite believe what somebody’s actually doing in front of you,” he says, in awe. “They were just extraordinary and, not only that, but they were completely lovely.”

Was he tempted to try out a few of the street dance moves? “I did try,” he laughs, “but I looked like a tit. I’m past 40 now, and that’s the age I should have stopped trying to do that kind of dancing.”

In an echo of the film’s plot, the two experts in very different styles of dance forged an unlikely bond. “Kenrick is a total dude,” laughs Tuckett. “He’s annoyingly good-looking, really cool and basically all the things that I wish I could be but never will. I wear tweed and generally look like a bit of a git. Then he comes in, all laidback and softly spoken. And, when he starts dancing, he’s a complete knockout. Also, he’s incredibly positive and never loses his cool.”

But it won’t be the last that the two choreographers see of each other.
“Kenrick and I have been talking about working together again, which was totally unexpected,” says Tuckett. “It would be lovely to do something else with him. And if I hadn’t have done this film, with its whole hybrid dance element, then we would never have crossed paths. It was a fantastic experience.”

Richard Winsor - Ballet boy to breaker
“There’s a scene where I do a bit of breaking, which I have never done before in my life,” he laughs.

“It’s actually given me a passion for it. The music is so gripping. When you have that beat on really loud, you can’t not move. Obviously I’m not the best street dancer, but I can see why people become really passionate about it. Working on this film has completely transformed my view of street dance. I mean, I’ve always loved watching that kind of dance, and acts like Diversity or Flawless, but actually being part of it and learning about the history and origins of it. It’s been a real pleasure.”

For all the ballet dancers’ hard work, Jennifer Leung, who plays Bex, admits that she was impressed by the dedication of the street dancers.
“Street dance is very technical,” she remarks. “It’s actually more similar to ballet than you might think, because both styles are about strength and discipline. The street dancers were constantly working out and practising in between takes. Then there’s me, Sianad and Rachel sitting around drinking cups of tea and eating biscuits!”

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