BMX Riders + Ballerinas FT Keelan Phillips

Keelan Phillips features in this “pioneering spin on the famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker Suite”. This brings about the discussion is Flatland like Ballet, isn’t our artform a lot more subtle and more difficult to master? What is the best way to describe what we do? What do you all think?

11 thoughts on “BMX Riders + Ballerinas FT Keelan Phillips

  1. i was talking with will redd about this just a few sessions ago…. we considered to say ballet, as often mentioned by others observing the sport from the outside. but also its probably more like breakdance because there are no rules really and you are not judged on specific moves you must make of specific difficulty.

    great post, thanks effraim.



  2. Well, since you’ve asked… I’ve been riding flatland for at least 15 years and have been involved in producing dance for at least the last 10 years. Also, my partner is a choreographer and has her own contemporary dance company. I’ve thought about this a lot and could probably write a long piece on the topic.

    Effraim – I think you haven’t quite asked the right question. I think it’s more a question of how does Flatland compare to Dance, rather than just comparing it to Ballet. I think modern flatland is more like contemporary dance, whereas you could argue that older styles of flatland could be more aligned with Ballet.

    The change from “Classical” flatland to “Contemporary” or “Modern” flatland can, in my opinion, be identified as the latter part of Nathan Penonzek’s career. Here the type of movement shifts from established, codified forms to primarily using unnameable tricks. Of course the traditional movements in both Flatland and Dance enable the subsequent forms which seek to break with that tradition to have meaning.

    To answer your first question, I don’t think Flatland is more subtle or more difficult to master. To the second question, I think both should be thought of coming under the broader category of movement. I think the similarities are extensive, I could go on and on…

    • Chris & Ben Q – Interesting topic, that always gets people talking. I often get told flatland is like ballet, whereas aside from the obvious spins comparing to how a flatlander spins there isn’t much to suggest they are the same. And in my opinion like everything, its hard to get to the top in whatever chosen art form/sport you choose to do, that takes something extra. I was more interested in describing what we do, when someone asks you to describe flatland, describe what you in a more detailed way than “flatland is like ballet or breakdance”…

      Chris was quite right, what I meant was this: “Keelan Phillips features in this “pioneering spin on the famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker Suite”. This brings about the discussion is Flatland like Ballet, isn’t our artform a lot more subtle and more difficult to master? What is the best way to describe what we do? What do you all think?

      Glad you enjoyed Nikola!

  3. Both use moves from forever ago, but at least people still enjoy watching ballet and it has a regular stream of new people participating and making it grow.
    You really can’t compare the two. To belittle the time, skill and talent that a ballerina puts into their craft by comparing it to a twirly bike rider is plain silly.
    Flatlanders quit overstating your importance in the world.

  4. Effraim – your question of how to describe it is hard. Maybe consider flipping it round and image having to describe Ballet or Dance to someone who had never seen it. I suppose you would say that it’s about developing a discipline of physical movement within a small number of rules and by practising that discipline and in sharing it you can generate infinite possibility and meaning. I guess that definition applies to all art.

    Jo my partner just said she thinks you don’t know what flatland is until you’ve tried it. And she thinks that training in ballet helped her a lot with learning flatland, particularly the ability to visualise a movement clearly before attempting it.

    • Yes is a tough one to really tie down and explain without sounding really cheesy, and if flatlanders cant explain it with any depth who can? I agree what your saying about the physical movement, because you are in effect training your muscles to perform the tricks/movements you want them to do. Thats why contest riders go over and over to get the tricks/combos down without a second thought.

      • What I wanted to add here – dancers control their bodies and the movements they want to make. A flatlander has to control their body and the bike, and the harmony between the two is what makes flatland so hard.

  5. my favorite demos/sessions have been with breakdancers, all taking turns busting real freestyle… have a hard time freestyling with a group of persons shredding ballet lol..although i’m def not saying it couldnt happen, and in my expierence it prob will lol…

  6. We know this for sure, both take a ton of body control, practice and commitment. They both are contributed to and made possible by the contributions of many, from distant lands and divergent perspectives. I would argue that they are both linguistic in that they are the result of sharing, and are the product of constant refinement by lots of different groups. It should be noted that I have never been to the ballet or watched more then a few moments of any performance on TV. That said, that it doesn’t appeal to me doesn’t negate the similarities between the two. I would argue that, the lack of “popularity” in the most common sense, has prevented BMX from becoming “indoctrinated” like ballet has been and has allowed it to remain freer. That said, it has also prevented bmx from reaching the levels of financial independence that ballet has and, as a result, the same kind of development. In the end,there are similarities and differences between the two, but they are far from identical. Thats my two sense!

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