Amirah Sackett, center, with her dancers. Photos by Rohan Preston
They came onstage in burqas and Adidas shoes, three severe-looking dancers with expressive hands and eyes. Their enveloping black outfits would seem inhibiting, yet they moved with strength, clarity and power, using their bodies to form recognizable figures that could have been lifted from the tombs of pharaohs or the temples of India.
The trio, led by Twin Cities hip hop choreographer and dancer Amirah Sackett, was one of the many highlights of “Rooted: Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening.” The show opened Friday at Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis. Sackett previewed her choreography for the video for an upcoming single by rapper Brother Ali.
Performer Camryn McNeal (center) is at the other end of the experience spectrum. She is all of six years old, and full of both passion and skill. Her turn was another highlight of "Rooted." She moved confidently with Minneapolis-based dance studio, the Art of Dance. The troupe proved to be colorful and vivacious, delivering with passion, precision and verve.
"Rooted" was started in 2009 by curator and host Maia Maiden as a way to celebrate the varieties and types of hip hop-influenced dance. This stage anthology, which has the expected b-boys and b-girls popping and locking, is noteworthy for its energy and range.
The show, repeated Saturday, consisted of about 20 acts, including soulful singer Gabrielle Samone accompanied by guitarist J Smooth, and fierce spoken word artist Tish Jones. At Friday's performance, Jones did an update of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not be Televised."
All performers delivered five-minute sets.
There were African dances, performed by Oyin and a crew assembled by Kenna Cottman, that plugged into the drums and beats that form the foundation of hip hop.
There also were Christian outfits, including a church ensemble and the male duo Christ Up, literally flipping in religious praise.
There were tap dances, delivered both by Art of Dance and by the Rhythm Tappers. The latter, like Savion Glover, made made beats with their feet while a beat-boxer rocked the microphone.
There was spastic, leering dance performed to crunk music by an athletic trio known as the Midwest Kingdom.
As if to nod to reggaeton and dancehall, in movement if not in sound, the evening also includes Cuban dances by Rene Thompson.
Much of the evening consists of fast and furious razzle-dazzle in a Gay Pride weekend show noteworthy also for its inclusiveness. Lots of of physical wit delivered by different levels of talent.
Friday's show concluded with a witty, subtle duet by B-Boy J-Sun and Dancin' Dave. The pair complemented each other's movements to form vivid stage pictures and added to the energy of a room that was bursting with electricity.
It is likely that that buzz has caused Saturday night's closing performance of "Rooted" to be sold out. Call the theater. 612-724-6273.