Chicago in the late 1990s. A new youth culture trend is making its way from the streets and corners into the mainstream: It is called Footwork. As with other forms of street dance, these footwork sessions are group events, and dancers challenge each other in “battles”. In time to the music, often played at breathtaking rates of 155 to 165 beats per minute, footwork is primarily an exercise in speed.
The dancers’ feet disappear in flowing, flickering movements underneath a static torso – in the hypnotic eruption of the rhythms, the upper body keeps a motionless balance. The best footworkers read the music like a map, never failing to incorporate the subtle variations of dynamics and rhythm into their movements. DJs produce the music, influenced by house, drum and bass and Detroit techno, specifically for these dance sessions.
Together with London-based director Simon Vincenci, the Italian performance group Barokthegreat, led by dancer Sonia Brunelli and musician Leila Gharib, explores footwork culture and intensifies the experience of street dance on stage. They are mainly interested in the ghostlike appearance of the dancing bodies’ limbs that seem to take on lives of their own, driven by a music that is based on separation and detachment.