Scorpiones (2009)

Digital urban mix with additional music by DJ Pogo
Choreographed by Jonzi D
First performed at the Castle Hall, Hertford as part of the 2009 Ballet Central national tour

Sometimes writing music for Ballet Central throws up unusual and exciting challenges, and working with the brilliant hip-hop choreographer, Jonzi D, was certainly one of these. Feeney knew Jonzi from his days at London Contemporary Dance School, and welcomed his refreshing approach to working with the Ballet Central dancers. His creative strategy was to create a kind of fusion between contemporary dance and gestural hip-hop. Working with four dancers he created an entertaining and imaginative piece, that began by anthropomorphizing strange insects and ended up as an entertaining competitive dance-off between couples.

While Feeney is no stranger to uptempo rhythmic electronic scores, this foray into the world of hip-hop was a new departure for him. So it was fitting that the score should be compiled hand in glove with the choreographer. Indeed, much of it was written after the choreography had been set, taken from the dancer’s counts and the videoed rehearsal sessions. After an atmospheric beginning, the gestural second section has an almost cartoon quality, and leads in turn to the extract of music by DJ Pogo that Jonzi had brought in for the battling.

The extraordinary closeness of the musical gesture with the movement gesture was intentional, and could be said to be characteristic of the whole hip-hop style. Music that follows the action too closely is generally held to be ‘mickey-mousing’, in danger of merely reiterating and commenting on the action in a cartoonish way, ultimately weighing the choreography down. But in this case the music was not so much tautological, as underlining, punctuating and reinforcing the visuals to good effect.

For the rehearsals Jonzi provided an entertaining vocal commentary during the choreography, and for a while we toyed with the idea of overlaying them across the score, even getting as far as a recording session in the Ballet Central basement. In the end we didn’t use it, but for those of us who were there, it remains an unheard commentary.