In the rain-slicked and neon-lit streets of Tokyo, three masked dancers are introduced by the melancholic sounds of the Chinese song “What the Pipa Says”. Wearing matching silk-woven traditional Chinese attire, black boots, and straw hats, the veiled trio performs a brilliantly choreographed routine in the empty street. The fluidity and finesse of their movements almost appear to be giving a subtle nod to movements seen in Taichi and Chinese kung-fu. This unique street dance performance was the debut appearance of the Dancing Strawhats.
As their name suggests, the conical straw hats are an integral part of the Dancing Strawhats’ image; combined with their perpetually masked faces, the dancers are purposefully shrouded in an air of mystery. The only thing immediately obvious about the group are the Asian influences in all of their performances. Their outfits, location choices, music, and movements all borrow from various Asian cultures. For example, in “Kimono”, they collaborated with famous Japanese choreographer Koharu Sugawara and his dance crew to create a surrealistic video set in Kyoto’s Shaolin Temple. In “The Heroes”, the Dancing Strawhats collaborated with Korea’s Jingo Crew and performed in front of Seoul’s Gyeonghuigung Palace.
Dancing Strawhats，顾名思义，以斗笠为标志性形象元素，总以神秘的蒙面形象现身。从服饰到场景，从音乐到动作，他们的舞蹈作品里融合了众多东方元素。例如: 《Kimono》中与日本舞者以及编舞师菅原小春以及她的团队一起，在京都少林寺中身着和服进行了一场完全超现实的尬舞；在《The Heroes》中与韩国舞蹈组合Jinjo Crew在首尔庆熙宫崇政殿前的合作…….
The most surprising aspect about the Dancing Strawhats might be where they’re from – all three team members are actually Norwegian. The trio consists of two brothers, Suleman Malik and Bilal Milik, along with their friend Nasir Sirikhan. Under the name Quick Crew, the three won Norway’s Got Talent in 2009 and established Quickstyle Studio shortly after and subsequently were often invited to teach and perform all over the world. So by 2015, when their Dancing Strawhats video went viral, the three were already no strangers to fame.
但出人意料的是，这个组合里的三位成员，Suleman Malik和Bilal Malik两兄弟，以及好友Nasir Sirikhan，均来自北欧的挪威。事实上，他们在2015年开始Dancing Strawhats这个三人舞蹈项目之前便早有名气。在2009年的Norwegians Got Talent电视节目中，他们以Quick Crew之名一举夺得冠军，并于随后成立了Quickstyle Studio，获邀至世界各地进行表演和教学。
But besides just dance, their music choices also sets them apart from other street dance crews. For example, in their “Tokyo Night” video, they decided to use “What the Pipa Says”. The song features a Chinese lute as the primary instrument, with other traditional Chinese instruments playing supporting roles. Chinese musician Linhai composed the song using elements from many different of genres, and by incorporating Western musical instruments, this contemporary reinterpretation of traditional Chinese music was born. In the “A Concept” video, the trio went with the song “Wamono” produced by Japanese breakbeat musical duo Hifana. The electronic heavy sounds are mixed with traditional Japanese instruments, like the samisen. The song even features Japanese festival drums, imbuing an even more authentic traditional Japanese feel throughout. At the same time, the song still retains its modern vibes.
在Dancing Strawhats这个项目中，这个团体在音乐的选择上，也是十分有趣和高明。比如《Tokyo Night》中那支《琵琶语》，虽是中国传统乐器琵琶为主，其它传统乐器为辅，但是音乐家林海应用了多种音乐流派的编曲手法，并结合了诸多西洋乐器，可谓是一次相当成功的传统的当代演绎。又如《A Concept》舞蹈中，日本电子音乐组合HIFANA的《WAMONO ~和モノ~》，利用电子乐配合人声再加入传统的三味弦等乐器，甚至还有祭典伴奏，可谓和风十足，又不失当代节奏。
Under the name Quick Crew, they never considered themselves to be solely a hip-hop dance crew. Instead, they believe in being open to all kinds of dancing and finding inspiration in it. This belief clearly extends to their performances under the Dancing Strawhats name. Their performances are closer to storytelling than mere choreography. Every performance not only showcases them as skilled dancers, but truly presents them as artists, and a breath of fresh air in the stale state of modern street dance.
作为Quick Crew，他们声称从不自称为hip hop舞蹈组合，相反，他们信仰的是从各类舞蹈中汲取灵感创作的自由。显然在Dancing Strawhats这个项目中，这个信仰也得以贯穿。相比时下主流的街舞，Dancing Strawhats以带有故事情节的编舞和演出、独到的技艺和创意的概念成为街舞团队中的一股清流，他们的作品总能让人惊叹尖叫。
Contributor: Banny Wang
Images and Videos Courtesy of Dancing Strawhats