Daniel Bernard Roumain Last Night at ASU Gammage

My name is Benjamin and I'm a classical music lover. I grew up in a household where Pachelbel's Canon, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, and Handel's Messiah were played regularly. 

I'm also a big fan of hip-hop, although not to the degree of some of my colleagues (who can craft outstanding blogs devoted to N.W.A. and its posse members).

Both of these musical loves were mixed and mashed up into a dynamic audio and visual feast last night during the world premiere of Daniel Bernard Roumain's distinctive Symphony for the Dance Floor

Before the show, the Haitian-American violinist and composer described his creation as a combination of "what happens in a concert hall and what happens in a dance club."

It was also equal parts stylish, dynamic, and emotional, and effusive, as well as ne of the more unique concerts I've ever witnessed.

First off, a majority of the audience was situated on stage in rows of stadium seating on either side of a runway-like performance area. The certainly got an eyeful as the show alternated between a mix of bombastic hip-hop soundscapes and poignant classical compositions.

The event started in dramatic fashion when the house lights lowered and a crescendo came from Roumain's electric violin. He performed soulful solo and was eventually revealed by spotlights to be performing a composition entitled "Begging for Your Affection" up in Gammage's balcony while dressed in a yellow motorcycle jacket and blue jeans. After returning to the stage and attempting to fire up the crowd, hype man-style, by shouting "Where the audience at?"

White lights began flashing, electronic beats began playing, and the show kicked into hip-hop mode. Roumain's collaborator DJ Science began working his turntables and laptop. A quartet of ASU dance students came onto stage and busted out with moves that were a graceful mix of b-boy styles, capoeira, and ballet.

The show also took on the feel of a dance club as a multitude of colored lights started flashing while Science provided a grandiose hip-hop tune and the stage filled with dancers dressed in urban streetwear and Roumain bounced his bow on the violin strings to give off beats.

Symphony of the Dance Floor also got back to the roots of hip-hop in a sense with one number, when he and Science performed a rather lo-fi tribute to old school rappers. While Roumain created a sound akin to a turntable scratching, Science grabbed a mic and began beatboxing.

The show also contained some rather arty moments set to classical music, such as the finale entitled "The Loss." While Roumain played a slow, dirge-like elegy while a single dancer dressed in black writhed about the stage. The two figures interacted with one another in languishing fashion to bring the show to an emotional finale.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Daniel Bernard Roumain's Symphony of the Dance Floor at ASU Gammage

Personal Bias: I switch between KBAQ and Power 98.3 while driving in my car.

The Crowd: A diverse mix of ages and races. The older theatre crowd mixed with aging classical music buffs, young Latinos, b-boys, and hipsters.

Overheard: "The one dancer reminds me of my ex from college."

Random Notebook Dump: DBR rocks the violin harder than Itzhak Perlman.

One More Thing: The second show of the evening supposedly featured more mature content, although no one at Gammage was able to tell me exactly what that entailed.