Covid-19 doesn’t stop Rikkai from showing his dance moves
Rikkai Scott weighed up the opportunities for BDblaq Dance – and saw the future in film.
It’s a route that many companies are taking at the moment thanks to the limitations brought on by Covid-19.
“Everyone is on the internet right now,” he said. “Everyone is bringing out films. Everyone is doing dance stuff. We had to work around that. But we are not here to compete. We are here to showcase our work.”
Tapout, the eight-minute dance film BDblaq put out in November, is part of that effort. Mr Scott and his team, Agata Olszewska, Ayten Goksan and Ashley Goosey, were halfway through making it when the coronavirus pandemic hit and England went into lockdown.
“When you are an artist, you don’t take a break,” said the 30-year-old, who lives in Colchester, Essex and founded BDblaq in 2016. “Or at least you try not to. I just had to go with the flow.”
For six months all they could do was practice together online, three hours a week.
“We were bouncing off each other and training as much as we could,” Mr Scott said. “We did a lot of fitness, a lot of hip hop and a lot of tap fusion but we couldn’t really do tap because it is a loud noise and I can’t teach that in my house.”
Apart from that he was busy with work from 5am at Savers, a local drugstore, and teaching dance classes online.
When restrictions eased for a bit in August the group was able to come together to complete the film. Three months later they released it on social media.
“We got a good reaction from that,” Mr Scott said. “People enjoyed it. We got some supportive messages from people in Bermuda.”
He is now waiting to hear back from various festivals on whether Tapout has been accepted into their programmes.
It follows Watch This Space, with Bermudian dancer Dawnita Smith, which the group released in 2016.
BDblaq is now in collaboration on a third film with an English rapper called Hippy.
Originally from Bermuda, Mr Scott relocated to Amsterdam to join de Kiss moves dance company. Twelve years ago he moved to England looking for greater opportunities.
BDblaq took the stage here last March, just before the start of the pandemic, for the Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts.
In England he teaches with DanceEast. Moving from in-person to online classes because of the pandemic was more difficult than he expected.
“Transitioning to online teaching was different,” he said. “It was a new challenge for me. I noticed that I had to really plan ahead.
“When you are home it is different. Even though you are dancing, you are by yourself and the atmosphere is different; you just woke up out of your bed and you have to take a class. It is a whole different feeling.”
But he said it was a good challenge.
“I had a whole new set of students, so I had to really adjust to their abilities and what they could do. I had to figure out how I could deliver classes the best way I could. They have a group called Encore, made up of students who are 40-plus. I had a few of them when the pandemic started. I also had university students and I had a few outsiders. I had to adjust to their ability.”
The plan is to travel this month to La Roche University in Pennsylvania for a weeklong residency where BDblaq will make a 60-minute film highlighting the efforts of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and other tap dance pioneers.
“It is personal to me because when I came to England I didn’t see any tap opportunities,” Mr Scott said. “I wanted to bring awareness to tap dance and how it has affected the world as far as race, style, music and entertainment.”
While in Pittsburgh, BDblaq will also take workshops with Bodiography Dance Company, a group led by Maria Caruso.
“I met her in Bermuda a few years ago when I worked with the Bermuda Civic Ballet,” Mr Scott said. “I told her about the project and she invited me to come to Pittsburgh.”
He is not particularly worried about travelling to a city during the pandemic.
“Sure, it’s bad in the United States,” he said. “But it is bad all over.”
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