Interview with Gersch and Rox - Hip Hop Cabaret
You’ve met our rather-wonderful friends, Gersch and Rox, before – and we’re delighted to say they have one heck of a show coming to the Underbelly this season, which is a little bit different…
Get this: Cabaret… meets… Hip Hop! I know right, why didn’t someone come up with this sooner? – it’s genius! We sat down with the pair this week to find out how it came about and why it is such an important show.
The way it all came about, they say, was simple. “It was all thanks to our mutual love of the music!” Gersch states, “There’s not a day that goes by that doesn’t involve me listening to Hip Hop!" It grew gradually, however, as they began incorporating acts such as beatboxers, rappers and break dancers into their events, alongside their traditional burlesque & cabaret performers. “Eventually we thought- why not have a Hip Hop-themed show, celebrating Hip Hop only from start to finish?”
So that is what they created: a show in the style of traditional cabaret, but peppered with performances influenced by a different world entirely. But was it difficult to marry the two styles? Surprisingly, not at all! “A cabaret’s main purpose is to entertain its audience - so, simply by choosing the right MC, the best performers and using plenty of Hip Hop’s most beloved anthems, this show came together magically.”
The glittering world of feathers and sequins may seem miles away from the grimey streets which gave rise to Hip Hop as a genre – but both cabaret and Hip Hop came into being in areas of relative poverty, with artists and creators looking to make something from what they had. “You just have to look back through history to understand the social significance of Hip Hop. At its birth, the genre expressed black youth culture in 1970s New York City, but since then it’s given rise to art forms such as graffiti and street art, b-boys (breakdancing) and rap.”
This show also gives the pair the opportunity to further their mission to make the world of cabaret a more inclusive place. “For us diversity is mandatory. A great show and a great party mixes people from all backgrounds on the dancefloor, in the audience and on the stage. This is how you truly create. Hip Hop Cabaret is so exciting for us to produce as it brings different art forms together – meshing things like burlesque and pole dancing with twerking, breakdance, and our cast is a petri dish of different backgrounds and performers.”
And it turns out the two art-forms have a thing or two they could learn from each other. “Hip Hop is traditionally a male-dominated genre, in contrast to cabaret which is a traditionally female-dominated genre. Straight away this creates an interesting topic of conversation. With Hip Hop Cabaret we are looking forward to celebrating females within Hip Hop via burlesque and moving forward and away from any misogynistic attitudes.”
And it looks like this is exactly what the people want. The response from hardcore hip hop and cabaret fans alike has been overwhelmingly positive, taking the event from the basement of a private members’ club to on stage at this year’s Underbelly Festival, in front of 500 people.
And they’ve even got some true Hip Hop gold involved: “We are super excited to collaborate with a Hip-Hop legend to pioneer this show and introduce it to the masses; an artist straight from New York city whose commercial success will drive and introduce cabaret to a new audience. We can’t reveal his identity just yet, but he will be our host for this show, and we could not be more thrilled.”
Their biggest show to date, this has only whetted their appetite for bigger and better things still. “The ambition is to get more of the greatest Hip Hop legends on board with the show, tour it and keep pushing the envelope of what it can do and how big it can be; how about the Hip-Hop equivalent to Cirque De Soleil with real Hip Hop legends?”
Now there’s a show I would queue up for. Hip Hop Cabaret is at the Underbelly on Thursday 24th May, and we pity the fool who doesn’t get a ticket. Now.