Natalie Meziani interviews Lebanese break dancer Vartan Bassil of the Flying Steps…
NM: Hi, ok, so…I know that break dancing and B-Boy dance originated in New York, but The Flying Steps members are from all around the world – how did you all discover dancing here in Berlin?
VB: Yes, good question! The Flying Steps have been around since 1993. The first time I saw break-dancing was on the TV, so I started to practice this, found some friends who did the same thing, and together we did break dancing and then made the crew, The Flying Steps. We started then.
NM: So you didn’t know each other before?
VB: No, no.
NM: How do you feel on stage, what is it like dancing up there?
VB: You are free. You know when you can do something that you can offer people, and you show them this and every time you do it they say ‘Wow, how does he do that?’ and it’s so nice, it’s so good, it gives you confidence and respect.
NM: Has anything changed within the group as you’ve become more successful? Has one person taken control, have you organised things differently…?
VB: No. Not at all. In break dancing every dancer has his own style, he needs to find his own personality in the dance. It’s different because you don’t steal from the other dancers in the group you just create your own flow. So we’ve all kept ourselves. That way we have respect from the public, from the scene, and nothing needs to change with us. It’s very important that with everything we do we gain respect from other dancers and the people.
NM: And you have a music label with that too?
VB: Yes. We have two different things. There are the music records and the music label. We formally made music but it was a feature project…the work today with Christopher Hagel is something new and different and not related to that.
NM: Yep, and it’s amazing! So…what about the Playstation games?
VB: Aaah yes! One of the guys from us, you know Benny?
VB: He does the Playstation games. It is very nice for the scene to have games where people can play, but…we are not the people who create the software or hardware. It is nice, it’s ok, but I think…I don’t know.
NM: I want one!
VB: Haha yes, maybe!
NM: Tell me a bit about your dance school? It’s here in Berlin right?
VB: Yes, yes of course, this is very important to us.
NM: Do you teach there or…?
VB: Yes we all do. It’s so important to share the knowledge and also teach people the urban dance style, we want to bring all these people together and share the passion we have.
NM: Do you have any other projects you’d like to pursue with the Flying Steps, or even without them?
VB: Our wish for a long time was to do something with classical music, you know? So we have already done the project we wanted. Many people think break dancing is something from the street, it’s not so good, it’s rough… And for us we wanted for a while to do something with classical music, make the street art and classical come together to show that we are not just break dancing like a sport, we are artists too.
NM: Exactly, that’s the view I had and now after the show I’m completely converted! So it’s being well received by everyone?
VB: Yes, yes, it’s just so fantastic to see how the audience react because there is kids, there is old people, bringing them all together. It is a little dream to have everyone in one place and show them things, and see everybody love it. They think ‘Have you changed your style for this?’ and we say ‘No, we’re just dancing with the music – if the music is fast, we are fast; if the music is slow, we are slow.’ Some people asked us if we’ve practised ballet or modern, and we say no, we are break dancers, we’re still practising the hip-hop style, but it looks like ballet because of the music.
NM: That’s so true, it’s very elegant.
VB: Thank you.
NM: No, thank you, thanks for your time, it’s been a great opportunity to see and speak to you.
VB: Thanks a lot, we appreciate it.
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