Hip hop is one of the fastest growing dance styles in the UK, but sometimes it’s given a bad rap. ZooNation Dance Company is here to show the world that hip hop has a role to play in engaging, motivating and inspiring young people and providing them with positive role models and opportunities.
ZooNation is bringing their latest show Into The Hoods : Remixed to London’s Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre. It’s a story set in the ‘Ruff Endz Estate’, where two lost children go on a journey to find an iPhone as white as milk, trainers as pure as gold, a hoodie as red as blood and weave as yellow as corn. This remixed production has been co-created by Associate Director and choreographer Carrie-Anne Ingrouille.
WWOD: Can you tell us about ZooNation Dance Company…
Carrie-Anne: The company has been going since early 2000’s and was set up by the wonderful Kate Prince, who’s the Artistic Director of the company. It started as a group of individuals who all shared the same love of street dance and Kate, who has always had a huge interest in theatre and telling stories, wanted to join the two together to make hip hop dance theatre. ZooNation does just that to create what I call user friendly, hip-hop theatre where everybody from children of 4 yrs to your Grandma can come and see the shows.
WWOD: How would you describe the hip hop dance scene in London?
Carrie-Anne: I think when you say hip hop people are still quite naive about hip hop dance. Sometimes there’s quite negative associations that come with hip hop and ZooNation very much tries to promote the great side of hip hop culture that is fun, fresh and exciting along with the knowledge of hip hop culture.
Hip hop is one of the fastest growing dance styles in Europe and there’s also major influence from America. Hip hop is a really great outlet for a lot of young people who might find it hard to express themselves in other ways. It’s something that they can relate to, whether it’s the music, the movement, or something to enjoy and watch. Hip hop is something that is very special and can be shared with everybody.
WWOD: As a dancer and choreographer, how do you approach choreographing new works?
Carrie-Anne: It depends on the work and who it is for, with ZooNation there’s always a very clear story. There’s always clear direction from Kate Prince about what she wants from a scene, or parts of the story we might be working on and what is needed to be expressed.
I get a lot of inspiration from the music and with ZooNation that’s something that is discussed very early on in terms of what the scene needs, the sounds, how it might look, so that all of the elements – the movement, the music and the direction – all comes together and marries up completely. That gives me a very clear line of how the choreography needs to come out.
When I’m choreographing my own work I’m more led by the music. I’ll have the music on shuffle and something will pop out for me – it might be the story that’s within a certain song, or it might be the way I’m feeling or I feel like the song has amplified that for me. That’s what starts the cogs turning and what makes me freestyle and what makes me create the piece.
WWOD: Can you tell us about the Into The Hoods : Remixed…
Carrie-Anne: Into The Hoods was originally created in 2005 and everybody absolutely loved it. And after touring the show for a few years Kate Prince decided to remix the hits, update it, and change some of the music and choreography.
Into The Hoods premiered in London last November and ZooNation just finished a UK tour which finished off in Manchester, so they’ve had a little bit of a break but we’re back 4–21 May at the Peacock theatre. And it will basically be the last run of it for now so if anybody wants to catch it then they’ve got those three weeks in May before we take a slightly longer break from it.
WWOD: After Into The Hoods, what are you working on next?
Carrie-Anne: With ZooNation there’s always something bubbling away, and we’re hopefully going to do some more works in the summer. We’ve got the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party coming back at the end of year which is really exciting because I performed in that show and was one of the choreographers. We’ve only performed it once before so I’m dying to get back to that as it’s such a fun show, really hard, but really fun.
For me personally, it’s just seeing what I would like to do creatively in the future. I’ve got a few ideas in my head that I’d like to thrash out, which I try to do whenever I get any free time because as much as I love working with ZooNation and colleges and other companies, I very much also want to be able to do something myself. I’ve got support from Kate Prince and ZooNation, my friends and family to do that, so it’s just deciding on an idea that I would like to take forward.
Into The Hoods : Remixed is showing at Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre for a limited time from 4 – 21 May.