AN award-winning folk group has fused with a hip hop crew to stage a high-octane show that is touring the country.
Electric folk band The Demon Barbers has got in step with urban b-boy dancers – breakdancers – to produce Time Gentlemen Please.
“Think of it as stomp dance with bells on,” said the show’s artist director Damien Barber, lead singer with the band The Demon Barbers.
“It’s a humorous extravaganza which takes clog, sword and Morris dances and finds similarities with hip hop styles such as b-boying, popping and krump.”
The Demon Barbers, which feature three musicians from Huddersfield, were winners of Best Live Act at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2009.
They were nominated for the same award this year and have, over the last 10 years, brought together young traditional dancers from across Yorkshire as part of their touring music roadshow.
The maverick folk band, consisting of fiddle player and singer Bryony Griffith and melodeon player and dancer Will Hampson, both from Skelmanthorpe, drummer Ben Griffith from Clayton West, and bass guitarist Lee Sykes from Guiseley, have built up a wide following at the progressive edge of the English folk scene.
Damien, 40, from Haworth, who plays on concertina and guitar, said: “The three hip hop dancers were new to the other artists.
“There were definitely some reservations, no-one really knew what was going to happen.
“It didn’t take long however for mutual respect to show.”
The three hip hoppers – Bobak Walker, Laura Simpson and Dan Didge Ovel – are seasoned b-boy dancers from Leeds.
Bobak, 29, a graduate of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, is choreographer for the show.
He said: “During research and development there were some amazing moments where the similarities between the two styles became clearer and more overwhelmingly obvious than either group of dancers had expected.
“One of our tasks was to take an existing morris dance, study it by using the same foot patterns, tweaking the styling, use of levels and arm positions and morph it into something that looks like a street piece.
“We went into the task with very little expectation about the results but it turned out to be much easier than I envisaged.”
Damien added: “Out of the blue, our sword dancers were asked to perform at the British Dance Edition, the UK dance industry’s leading showcase event.
“We were well-received and this led to two pilots exploring the relationship between English traditional dance and street dance.
“They went down a storm so this idea to fuse b-boy hip hop with morris took hold and led to the production of the current show with 16 musicians and dancers backed by four stage crew,” said Damien.