Boundless vitality permeated the Ordway Center on Sunday, and the venue shook with energy.
Since 2009, Maia Maiden Productions has produced Rooted as a way to celebrate hip-hop dance’s African roots and the community’s ever-evolving innovation. This year, Maiden expanded its ‘Routed’ performances into a multi-day festival, culminating in an ‘Hip-Hop Choreographer’s Evening’ at the St. Paul Center for the Performing Arts.
Maiden, who goes by the stage name Ra Fear, was an accomplished host. She and her DJ Dizzy, who competently handled various styles of soundtracks and transitions, exchanged quick banter that helped liven up the show.
The Titanbe Dance Ensemble opened with Ghanaian rhythms as four drummers and one dancer took to the stage with folding fans. All five performers sang beautifully. Titanbe closed out the set with her second song featuring two of her dancers, one blowing a whistle and dancing at the same time.
Rooted sent off competitive dance troupe Dance City to the Starpower National Talent Competition in Las Vegas this month. With somersaults, cartwheels, precise synchronicity, and a little bit of booty shaking, the group looked poised to take Nevada by storm.
Babatunde Akinboboye’s hip-hop opera mashup was a special treat. A Nigerian-American baritone, the baritone has performed in opera troupes across the country and has amassed an internet following with her rap operas, aka hip hopera. Singing an aria from Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” over a hip-hop beat, Babatunde delighted the crowd with a masterful rapping of his own version of the dark classic.
The 612 Crew performing at a Timberwolves game impressed. Changing tempo and direction with ease, the group moved in unison while also sharing solo moments where individual dancers could shine.
The local group Klava also looked tight. The dance style of the Hmong ensemble was to breathe with each other while keeping the knees bent and relaxed with smooth movements.
The most special moments in the show were when solo performers improvised and other dancers joined in their movements. Judith McCarty’s solo in the second act was especially magical. It was as if the French, Congolese and Cape Town-bred choreographer’s move was so contagious that other performers were compelled to join.
Such an energy characterized the whole evening. During intermission, the audience took to the stage and began dancing with DJ Digie. It was a sign of a good show that people watching would want to be a part of.