Express not impress: An interview with Crazy Smooth (Yvon Soglo) of BBoyizm

Bboyizm (Ottawa)

IZM

A DanceWorks Mainstage Event

Enwave Theatre

Fri. Apr 13 through  Sat. Apr. 14, 8pm

Interview by Lucy Rupert

Lucy Rupert:  What is IZM all about?

Crazy Smooth: IZM is about artists — dancers — expressing themselves in a culture. The pureness of the expression, that thing that we call “izm”, subsumes the moment of expression itself, transcending dance and creating dialogue within the culture as a whole.

IZM transcends age, race and gender – reaching below the surface where emotions live.

LR: What do you hope audiences experience at IZM?

CS: I hope audiences experience a rollercoaster of emotions and that the piece tampers with their perceptions of street dance in a performing arts setting.

One thing is for sure, whether the audiences are intimately connected to dance or are simply looking to enjoy something new, IZM will leave them wanting more.

LR: I am intrigued by the part of your company profile online where it speaks of “honest poetry”. How do you work in the rehearsal/creative process to bring the honest poetry out?

CS: Bboyizm’s key artistic principle is: when dancing, your goal is not to impress the audience, but rather to purely express yourself by way of the art, hence honest poetry. With this approach, your final product will be impressive due to it being genuine.

The creative process is approached from the same angle. After the idea and music for a scene is chosen, I must first dance to that music with the theme in mind to bring out the most natural movement before I can organize choreography. The choreography must come from natural movements that I feel to that music. So when I look at it, when I teach it to the dancers, the movements don’t feel forced to them but rather fluid and natural.

LR: How do you approach staging street dance in a theatrical setting?

CS: The theatrical setting enables me to address themes and messages that can’t always be exposed in the traditional street dance context.

One thing that helped a lot [for IZM] is an outside eye. I wanted to have someone who didn’t come from the street dance world; I found the perfect fit in Tedd Robinson. He looked at my work, gave feedback and asked questions that made me re-think certain things and adjust some of my choreography.

I have seen a lot of contemporary dance shows over the past 3 years: Hofesh Shefter, Eastman, and Akram Khan. One thing I always try to observe and analyze is how some of these big companies/choreographers use the space on the stage to convey their themes and messages. By doing so I get inspiration and ideas on how to stage my dance form in a theatrical setting.

LR: I love your International Dance Day message — was there anything else you would have liked to have said in that message?

CS: Yes, I would have liked to add a message derived from hip-hop culture, which says: Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun. Although this message comes from hip-hop, I think it applies to all dances.

LR: What is your dream for BBoyizm in the future?

CS: Within the next 5 years, I want Bboyizm to be an established dance company in both the performing arts and street dance world.  I want to create a good repertoire of works (productions, collaborations) and continue to be involved in my community.

As things are growing for Bboyizm, I am constantly faced with the financial difficulties of the arts world. One of my dreams for the future is to have the right formula in order for the company to be self-sustaining, financially.

This interview has been edited for content and length.

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