by Liltera Williams
Groovaloo has drawn comparisons to popular dance musicals such as A Chorus Line and Stomp,, and is even being touted as the “Hip Hop Chorus Line” of our generation.
The founder of the smash hit dance troop came from an unlikely place- Calgary, Canada. There, Bradley Rapier had dreams of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a doctor. But a dream deferred became a dream come true when he was introduced to dance.
With influence from his mother, sister and a fellow schoolmate, Rapier realized a hidden passion that he was eager to share with the world. Friends encouraged him to compete against other local dancers to boost his confidence as well as build the hype for his name in the community. He eventually joined Streetscape, a local street dancing group, and later went on to win first place in the Canadian Talent Search.
In ‘99, Rapier relocated to Los Angeles and the Groovaloos dance troupe was formed. As founder, artistic director and director of choreography, Rapier is the mastermind behind a group of about 25 talented individuals who live to tell their stories through dance. Built on a strong bond of friendship, the Groovaloos have accomplished in 10 years what some may never be able to do in a lifetime. With appearances on So You Think You Can Dance, The Ellen Show and NBC’s Superstars of Dance, to the beat of each step, the Groovaloos are striving to make their mark on the world.
They are embarking on a national tour in January, stopping here in Jacksonville on the 14th. In the bonus interview footage of the Groovin’ with the Groovaloos DVD series, Rapier recalled the pivotal moment that brought him to the decision to give these dancers a chance to share their stories with the world. He asked the dancers to explain why they do what they do and what dancing means to them.
“For some of them, this is all they know. It’s life and death for others,” he says. Rapier found himself amazed because for him, an untrained dancer who just happened to be a quick learner, it was never that deep.
The live stage show is based on true life events that each member of the troupe has experienced. Rapier wants audience members to be able to “sense beauty in the dance,” describing it as, “powerful, inspirational and electrifying.”
The Groovaloos have garnered a slew of positive reviews for their performances, but have also faced a bit of criticism due to the fact that the live show doesn’t fit the exact format of a typical Broadway musical. Rapier describes it as a “totally backwards hybrid theater piece.” There’s poetry, voiceovers, music and dancing, but no acting or singing. Rapier believed it was important to protect the idea of freedom of expression, which is evident in the motto he lives by: “Life isn’t always choreographed. Sometimes you gotta freestyle.” The Groovaloos do just that by letting their bodies adapt to the music, creating their own choreography as they go. Rapier is a strong believer in integrity and character. In one word, he describes himself as a storyteller, with the goal of motivating and inspiring people to follow their dreams by executing the five P’s: perseverance, patience, perspiration, positive attitude and prayer.
Though Bradley Rapier appreciates the many awards and recognition, he believes the true triumph lies within the Groovaloos ability to be themselves and still have an effect on people lives. And I’m sure he’d agree that freestyle dance with no manipulation is the ultimate way to groove.