the AU interview: Christoph Hagel (Artistic Director) and Vartan Bassil (Choreographer) of Red Bull Flying Bach

  • Jamie Cockburn
  • January 9, 2013
  • Comments Off on the AU interview: Christoph Hagel (Artistic Director) and Vartan Bassil (Choreographer) of Red Bull Flying Bach

Following a sold-out European tour and shows in Russia and Japan, global sensation, Red Bull Flying Bach is set to land in Australia for the first time next March. In the ultimate clash of cultures, Red Bull Flying Bach fuses breakdance crew, Flying Steps and their unrestricted and explosive dance style with the elegant music of visionary 18th century composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. We chatted to Artistic Director Christoph Hagel and Choreographer Vartan Bassil about the event and here’s what they had to say:

Christoph Hagel (Artistic Director)

Where did the concept of Red Bull Flying Bach come from?

I saw the dancers (Flying Steps) in a show some years ago and was fascinated by the genre “breakdance” and by these dancers. Then I met them, and we decided to develop a whole show with breakdance and classical music. Some weeks later after studying the different possibilities of breakdance, I proposed Bach because of the sharpness, freshness and “coolness” of his preludes and fugues which in my opinion corresponded very well with this dance style. In fact, the dancers and me, we wanted to work together, that is all.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

Well, I am an classical conductor, specialized in Opera, with some experience in cross-over projects. Studies in Vienna, Berlin, Munich and with Leonard Bernstein and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, conducting all over Europe and South and North America. In Berlin I presented some big Opera events in special locations and with cross over elements, so “magic flute in the metro”, “Don Giovanni in a techno club”. Already in former projects I been involved with breakdance and acrobatics.

Were there any difficulties in pitching the idea of a show that features classical music and modern urban dance?

In this special case it was not so difficult because this dance style is so creative by itself and these dancers have been so incredibly creative by themselves. Of course, every time you have a new project you are nervous about the reactions, but this time less than others.

How well does Bach’s music translate into breakdance?

It depends how serious and exact you translate it. Here the dancers have been interested in this music, and I was interested in this dance. Maybe this is the reason it has worked so well.

Did you try it with any other composer’s music?

No,Bach was my first idea.

How did people react when first seeing the show?

Explosively! Even if there have been arguments against it or some points, the energy and positive appeal of the performance inspired the public in a very strong way.

How does it differ to each country you visit?

It depends not so much on the country, but on the venue we perform and the mixture the public, i.e. of the different scenes(party people and high culture lovers). But even when this mixture and also the mix of the generations happens, the reactions are very similar in very different countries. Especially when families are visiting the show, they react similarly in every country – family entertainment is of a very special appeal.

Will the Australian show feature any differences from previous tours?

No,I hope not.

How do you think/hope Australian audiences will react to the show?

For me it is important to show that breakdance is a form of art and that J.S.Bach is a music which can be fascinating for everyone. I hope that this the combination of “party” with deep and strong feelings will be convincing also in Australia.

Vartan Bassil (Choreographer)

How did you get involved in Red Bull Flying Bach?

We had the idea to perform a full length show to classical music for quite a long time. When we met Christoph Hagel we decided to cooperate and he chose the well tempered clavier as it fits great with urban dance.

What are the challenges in choreographing breakdancing to classical music?

Choreographing urban dance to classical music takes a lot of time, if you want to achieve a proper result. It was a new challenge for us to visualize the fugues and preludes and to mix contemporary and urban dance on a high level.

Are there any other types of music you would like to try out breakdancing with?

That would be telling. The concepts of our future productions are confidential. 馃檪

What was the reaction like when you first got to showcase it all?

Unexpected success. 24 hours after the premiere all tickets for the upcoming shows were sold out.

How did Flying Steps come together?

My partner Amigo and me founded the crew in 1993. The cast has changed over the years, new members were added and we worked with various dancers from all over the world. An international network of world-class urban dance athletes was formed – the Flying Steps Company. We always try to think different and to come up with new concepts.

What has been your favorite part of Red Bull Flying Bach?

My dreams did come true with Red Bull Flying Bach. It would be great to run the production for many years.

What are you expecting from the Australian performances?

I am really looking forward to visit the country and to see the reactions of the audience.

What can WE expect?

Opposites attract! With Red Bull Flying Bach, the breakdance legends Flying Steps and opera director Christoph Hagel have proven, that breakdancing and the music of famous German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach fit perfectly. Their creative performance visualizes and revives Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier crossing the borders of serious music and youth culture. Note by note. Step by step. With piano, harpsichord and electronic beats. With headspins, powermoves and freezes. With visuals and a storyline, 70 minutes long.



Ticket information: Sydney
Where: State Theatre
路 Wednesday 6th March, 2013 – SOLD OUT
路 Thursday 7th March, 2013 – SOLD OUT
路 Friday 8th March, 2013 – SOLD OUT
路 Saturday 9th March, 2013 – SOLD OUT
Price: Tickets start from $59.15 (including booking fee)

Ticket information: Melbourne
Where: Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall
路 Wednesday 13th March, 2013
路 Thursday 14th March, 2013
路 Friday 15th March, 2013
路 Saturday 16th March, 2013
Price: Tickets start from $59.95 (including booking fee)

Purchase Melbourne Tickets Here.