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Benji Reid: winning body popper

Benji Reid

Benji Reid Benji Reid
Once regarded as a short term pop phenomenon, hiphop has multiplied into communities across the world and a multi-million dollar industry that powers on, showing no sign of fading. As with anything on this cultural scale and complexity and its association with race and dignity, power and defiance, controversy is ever present. There are moments however when hiphop opens up to debate and analysis. In Sydney the time is ripe with the Eminem movie 8 Mile currently showing, the imminent release of Mike Broomfield’s documentary, Biggie and Tupac (about the murders of US hiphop rappers Tupac Shakur and Christopher ‘the notorious B.I.G.’ Wallace in 1996), a new show at Performance Space by local exponent and hiphop teacher Morgan Lewis in April, and a season of works by UK break-dancer Benji Reid at the Sydney Opera House’s The Studio in March. Hiphop is a popular artform—in some bodies more artful than others.

The award-winning Reid, who has toured the world with Soul II Soul, will combine his “body-popping, b-boy style and poetic text” in 3 works at The Studio over 5 nights in March after running workshops with young dancers from Sydney’s western suburbs.

After taking up dance to combat school bullies, Reid quickly became skilled at robot dancing and break-dancing, trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance then joined a Scottish company and TAG Dance Theatre where he combined text with movement. Later he worked with Soul II Soul, featured in pop videos and studied mime with the David Glass Ensemble. In 1996 he won the European body-popping championship and came second in the World Dance Championships Manchester-based Reid’s current work samples texts from Kung-Fu films and cartoons and features the illusionary movement of body-popping. He will perform The Holiday with Jim Parris on double bass, The Pugilist about a retiring boxer and his ring-side confidante and Style 4 Free, a slapstick, improvised work inspired by jazz with text and muffled beats. RT

Benji Reid, The Studio, Sydney Opera House, Mar 25-29.

RealTime issue #53 Feb-March 2003 pg. 38

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