Breaking Stereotypes: The Fusion of Bach and Hip-Hop Dancers in French Performance Art

Byvu lita

Jul 2, 2023

Dancers in balaclavas surprised the audience in Marseille with a performance filled with Bach classics mixed with hip-hop music.

A Bach sonata plays on a guitar to introduce a show meant to counter stereotypes that cripple the lives of young people from working-class neighbourhoods of Marseille.

Soon hip-hop elements as well as “drill” rhythms (a form of rap tinged with electro) and “shatta” (musical style from the West Indies) join the violin sonata by the German composer Jean-Sébastien Bach (1685 -1750).  Then, dancers in balaclavas flood the stage. The show, ‘Bach Nord’ has the whole audience enraptured at the Marseille Festival.

The show puts the vitality of urban cultures at its centre, while deconstructing clichés about violence, multiple segregations and confinement. According to its choreographer, Marina Gomes, the performance was inspired by personal experiences.

Designed ‘as a response to the film ‘BAC Nord’

Ironically, the show sets out to challenge characters and ideas portrayed in Cédric Jimenez’s controversial film, BAC Nord – also known as The Stronghold in English. The movie explores life in the poor and deprived districts of the southern French Mediterranean city, an area with the highest crime rates in the country.

“‘BAC Nord’, like many other artistic and media works or reports, describes young people from working-class neighbourhoods in a way that doesn’t really correspond to us,” says Gomes. “I wanted us to be able to offer a response to this film or at least a different vision.”

The choreographer worked with middle and high school students from the 3rd, 13th, 14th and 15th districts of Marseille and with the dancers of the Hylel company.

“People say that the northern districts are bad, that everybody from there are the same,” says one of the 13-year-old dancers Wiame Ez Zahy. “In truth, before saying anything, know them (the people of the northern districts), do not judge without knowing!”

Watch the video above to see more of this performance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *