Spectrum News NY1: It's Showtime: Subway Breakdancing Meets the Middle Ages

Spectrum News NY1: It's Showtime: Subway Breakdancing Meets the Middle Ages

It's the kind of dance most often seen on the streets or the subway.

But on a recent night, a brand of hip-hop dancing turned up in the Arms and Armor Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where dancers dressed in medieval warfare gear moved to the sounds of the 21st Century.

"You're putting on what feels like another persona," said Rhea 'Wiildkard' Nance, a dancer with It's Showtime NYC. "And you're adding that to your movements."

It is called "Battle Hip-Hop in Armor," a collaboration between the Met and "It's Showtime NYC," a dance troupe featuring former subway performers like Nance.

Met curator Pierre Terjanian told us the idea is to bring to life artifacts that now sit behind glass.

"I have feeling that a lot of the objects can be studied, can be enjoyed, almost like still lifes," Terjanian said. "But in reality, it's not about study, it's also about enjoyment. I think the dancers bring a completely different feel to the objects as they are in movement."

The dancers don't perform in the original armor, but replicas, like these gauntlets and chain-mail shirts, some of which weigh 20 pounds and affect how the body moves. […]

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Pictorial: Geniuses at the Met Museum of Art Got Showtime Dancers To Perform Wearing Armor

Pictorial: Geniuses at the Met Museum of Art Got Showtime Dancers To Perform Wearing Armor

In a truly inspired strategy for demonstrating how their collection looks in action, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has invited dancers from the organization It’s Showtime NYC! to do a series of performances in their Arms and Armor gallery.

The Met sent us some footage from a recent rehearsal, which you can see above. The collaboration melds two New York institutions—perhaps the city’s most famous museum, and tradition of subway performances that begin with the loud announcement that “It’s SHOWTIME!”—and the result really does give you a new appreciation for what these pieces looked like in their original context. It’s an infinitely better way to understand armor than slowly circling a fully-assembled suit muttering “now how in the hell...” like some of us have found ourselves doing. […]

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The New Yorker: Goings on about town | Dance

The New Yorker: Goings on about town | Dance

It’s one thing to draw an analogy between the competitive face-offs in hip-hop dance and combat between knights. It’s another to outfit hip-hop dancers in medieval armor. In the Arms and Armor Court of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the talented street and subway performers of It’s Showtime NYC! wear replicas of some of the battle gear on display—gauntlets, helmets, breastplates—and experiment with how the extra weight affects their moves and swagger.



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MEDIUM - Stand in Their Shoes | Syhem Belkhodja’s Dance Workshop

MEDIUM - Stand in Their Shoes | Syhem Belkhodja’s Dance Workshop

“Can I give you something?” asked Rhea “Wiildkard” Nance as she eased her way through a crowd of people pushing up the stairs from the basement theater at New York’s French Institute, where Nance had just performed. She handed a woman in a cherry-red blazer and matching skirt a black and white headshot of a woman, printed on plain paper.

In a packed elevator headed for the Skyroom, the woman in red looked up intently at Nance as she told her the story of the woman in the picture, a dancer Nance had encountered in a workshop taught by Tunisian choreographer Syhem Belkhodja and conducted over four days in the week before the show. The elevator was headed for act three of the performance, which was presented by local street-dancers from It’s Showtime NYC, like Nance, and a troupe from Tunisia led Belkhodja. […]

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Dance Enthusiast - IMPRESSIONS: The 17th Annual River To River Festival with Cori Olinghouse, Catherine Galasso and It’s Showtime NYC!

Dance Enthusiast - IMPRESSIONS: The 17th Annual River To River Festival with Cori Olinghouse, Catherine Galasso and It’s Showtime NYC!

[…] It’s profound to see a collective of men and women of color celebrating and thriving in front of Federal Hall and George Washington’s statue  — both markers of government and institutional slavery. Equally interesting is that this site is one block away from the historical slave market (corner of Wall Street and Pearl Street) designed to keep minorities from assembly and possible rebellion. It’s Showtime NYC! temporarily transforms this space into one of liberation. […]

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ALL ARTS: SUBWAY DANCERS PERFORM IN BATTLE GEAR AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

ALL ARTS: SUBWAY DANCERS PERFORM IN BATTLE GEAR AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

In an effort to liven up its Department of Arms and Armor, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has invited 29 freestyle dancers from the South Bronx to perform in replica battle gear at the museum throughout the first half of the year. The dancers hail from It’s Showtime NYC!, a group made up of artists who cut their teeth performing on New York City subway trains and platforms. As part of the commission, members of the troop will don traditional chain mail, leather and armor while dancing to their own selection of beats and music. The goal, according to museum curators, is to reveal “unexpected parallels” between historical combat tradition and hip-hop dance culture. Of course, the series also highlights the ways in which armor moves with and protects the body.

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JFK International Air Terminal: “Heavy metal” meets hip-hop

JFK International Air Terminal: “Heavy metal” meets hip-hop

If you’ve visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Arms and Armor gallery, you’ve probably wondered what it was like to walk, ride a horse, or fight under the weight of all that metal. But performers from the South Bronx arts organization Dancing in the Streets can tell you what it’s like to execute hip-hop moves while wearing armor. Replicas of real medieval armor from the museum’s collection. 

Battle: Hip-Hop in Armor gives us a glimpse of what it would look (and sound) like if knights of old stepped to a modern urban beat. The dancers, who have been featured on It’s Showtime NYC!, are collaborating with the Met on a series of live shows.

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The New York Times: The Dance Battle Is Joined

The New York Times: The Dance Battle Is Joined

Two dance teams go to war in “Battle! Hip-Hop in Armor,” part of It’s Showtime NYC’s residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

#SPEAKINGINDANCE | “It’s us comparing and contrasting the art of battling in dance and on the field,” said @ _wiildkard_, a member of @itsshowtimenyc, a company of street dancers in residence at the @metarmsandarmor through June. “We went over details of battle prep, and we were like, that’s us. It’s all or nothing.” As part of “Battle! Hip-Hop in Armor,” the dancers present “The Champion’s Battle” on February 8, in which 2 teams go to war — naturally, in armor. “We got to choose our own pieces that fit not only to who we are, but our dance styles as well,” said @flexx_wit2x

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The New York Times: Subway Break Dancers, Clad in Armor, Go Medieval at the Met Museum

The New York Times: Subway Break Dancers, Clad in Armor, Go Medieval at the Met Museum

Out of nowhere, the clang of armor and the beat of hip-hop music boomed through a gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tourists who had been peering at filigreed shields and wrought-iron broadswords swung toward the sound.

There, beside a cluster of horse statues in armor, a dancer moved into a handstand — one-handed by necessity. On his free hand, he wore a gleaming silver gauntlet, which he shimmied off and placed on the floor so that it stood upright like the disembodied hand of a knight.

Above the medieval-style metal glove, he spun, he kicked, he flipped.

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The New York Times: Review: Faustin Linyekula’s Twin Peaks of Mourning and Joy

The New York Times: Review: Faustin Linyekula’s Twin Peaks of Mourning and Joy

[...] The same could be said of the cast of “Festival of Dreams,” a presentation of Crossing the Line and Dancing in the Streets directed by Mr. Linyekula and Moya Michael. Twenty-one dancers from It’s Showtime NYC, a program that supports the professional development of subway dancers, each had moments to shine, breaking out backflips, handstands, gliding footwork and spidery contortions. But more indelible was how fluidly they worked together, passing energy to whoever was in the spotlight. When they formed a circle, the edges were never static.

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Epicure & Culture: Where To See NYC’s Best Street Dancing (While Giving Back)

Epicure & Culture: Where To See NYC’s Best Street Dancing (While Giving Back)

Street and subway dancing may be seen by onlookers as either a form of expression or a talent showcase. Yet others consider one or both as more of a hindrance.

It’s Showtime NYC is focusing on the former.

It’s Showtime NYC was created in 2015 as a pilot program of Dancing in the Streets — a public performance program in the South Bronx. The aim of the program is to provide a supportive and developmental infrastructure for street and subway dancers in NYC, to be able to practice and develop this unique NYC art form without being arrested. The program also advocates for the value of hip-hop as a powerful and expressive art form and lifestyle, and seeks to create viable, remunerative, and legal careers in the arts for street and subway dancers.

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The Guardian: New York subway breakdancing goes above ground – and gets legit

The Guardian: New York subway breakdancing goes above ground – and gets legit

Commuters on the New York subway are accustomed to the sight of lone breakdancers bursting into the carriage to flip down the aisle or swing from the poles. On any given week, it is estimated that hundreds of performers strut their stuff in the city’s tunnels. Though the most talented can earn a living and a sizeable social media following, they risk arrest on a daily basis in order to practise their art. Crackdowns have landed more than a few in jail, including some with no other criminal record.

Enter It’s Showtime NYC, a programme that recruits top talent by offering them the chance to stop dodging the cops and take their act above ground and above board.

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MEDIUM - Arts, Culture, Beats: From Subway Cars to Festivals

MEDIUM - Arts, Culture, Beats: From Subway Cars to Festivals

It’s Showtime NYC, a city-funded program, offers train performers a route to above-ground stages.

“Remember, ladies and gentlemen, dancing is not a crime. It is art.” The presenter uttered this phrase on Sunday, as he ushered the crowd along a lean, wooden platform near the back end of Weeksville Heritage Center’s garden, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Behind him, spread across a lawn, 20 hip-hop dancers popped, flexed and curled their bodies with ease, seemingly oblivious to the 90-degree heat drenching their bodies in sweat. The hour-long spectacle concluded a two-week residence undertaken by the performers with the famous Congolese choreographer, Faustin Linyekula, as part of the Crossing the Line performance festival. What’s more, it was the direct outcome of a greater effort, led by the nonprofit It’s Showtime NYC, to offer street dancers legal alternatives to dancing illicitly in subway cars.

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MEDIUM - Arts, Culture, Beats: Breakin’ in the Bronx

MEDIUM - Arts, Culture, Beats: Breakin’ in the Bronx

The intersection known as the Hub in the Bronx’s Melrose neighborhood is the second-busiest place in New York City. Only Times Square sees more foot traffic. It’s where East 149th Street, and Willis, Melrose and Third Avenues converge. In the center of the Hub, flanked by busy streets, rests a large swath of concrete known as the Roberto Clemente Plaza. For the homeless, it’s a place to sleep. For dealers, it’s a place to push product. For most, it’s a shortcut on their daily commute. But on Saturday, it was a stage where the It’s Showtime NYC! street dancers, under the guidance of the world-renowned choreographer, Faustin Linyekula, performed “Festival of Dreams.”

...

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The New York Times: Instead of Arrests, Subway Dancers Are Getting a Stage Above Ground

The New York Times: Instead of Arrests, Subway Dancers Are Getting a Stage Above Ground

For years, it was the sight that stopped “showtime”: a plainclothes officer, rising to identify himself aboard a New York City subway car and greeting tip-seeking break dancers with handcuffs.

Arrests for performers onboard trains more than doubled last year. The “acrobats,” as Police Commissioner William J. Bratton called them, were held up as a signpost of disorder underground; enforcement against them, the commissioner said last year, was “soaring.”

But in recent months, police officers underground have quietly begun delivering a sharply different message on small palm cards handed to the scofflaw showmen they encounter.

“Make money,” the cards read. “Avoid arrest. Dance!”

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