"Flashdance." "Fame." "Footloose." If you loved em, you need to watch this.
The dancers are from The Urdang Academy, a dance and musical theatre college in London, where artistic director Paul Hack choreographed a routine called "80's Flashback" for the students' performance at Move It, the UK's biggest dance expo.
But the routine has far surpassed the audience of the three-day dance event, which typically showcases the talents of nearly 25,000 dancers. Since posted to Facebook, the "80's Flashback" performance video has garnered over four million views and counting.
Dance.com spoke to Hack, who has been the artistic director at Urdang for 15 years. He shared what inspired him — and why he chose to preserve the legendary, lovable 80's moves.
Dance.com: Where was this performance?
Hack: "Every year our students perform at the country's biggest dance expo called Move It. Urdang produces high energy numbers for the main stage to provoke crowd pleasing moments and interest in the college. The students performing are a mix of first- to third-years. Each year, we audition students for the Move It pieces."
What inspired this dance specifically?
Hack: "This dance was inspired by my past. I'm 46, and I was an aspiring dancer in the 80's. I grew up watching 'Fame,' 'Flashdance' and all the dance movies of the 80's. My dream was to be a 'Solid Gold' dancer. 'Solid Gold' was a weekly American show counting down the hits, and if the artist was unable to perform on the show, the 'Solid Gold' dancers would perform. I videotaped the dancers every week and would watch them over and over!"
How did this dance come together?
Hack: "My background is technical jazz, and I wanted this number to pay homage to the dance movies of the 80's by using uplifting and energized jazz technique. My assistant, Lynsey McDougall, who is Head of Dance at Urdang Academy and I have been working together for 13 years. Our choreographic style is so well connected, and we put this dance together in four hours in a tiny space in the basement of the college! Technical jazz is in our blood, and it pours out of us!"
Were any movements inspired by the 80's?
Hack: "The whole dance was inspired by the 80's. I took choreographic references from 'Fame,' 'Flashdance' and 'Staying Alive' and put my own twist on them. For instance, the second track in the mix was 'Maniac' from 'Flashdance' and the original video shows a dancer (Jennifer Beals) doing a sweaty workout with lots of jogging on the spot. We used these kinds of movements as a link to the original imagery."
Did you try to make them modern?
Hack: "I wouldn't say that I've modernized 80's jazz movements with this dance. I feel the choreography is classic. Part of its appeal is that it relates to all generations. However, the music is so specifically 80's and the tracks I've chosen hit the viewer with impact and energy. The choreography compliments this energy and together create a buzz for the audience. It builds and builds and almost begs for applause."
Any favorite part of the dance that stands out? Did the students have a favorite part?
Hack: "The favorite part of the dance for me and the students was the bridge between the songs 'Holding Out For A Hero' and 'Far From Over.' There is something about the energy in the music at that point that has a reaction in the body. When we taught the students the choreography they had not heard the mix of the track. When they danced it for the first time, and heard this bridge, they all went crazy. The whole rehearsal room was buzzing. It's also the point where the dancers need to push energetically to maintain the stamina to dance full out to the end."
What forms of dance/arts do students at Urdang study?
Hack: "The students study all forms of dance with a focus on jazz, tap, contemporary, ballet and street. Students also study musical theatre subjects including singing, acting and voice and many sub-divisions within these subjects. In second year, students are placed on a track that suits their destination."
What other types of performances do the students do?
Hack: "Urdang has an annual performance schedule to compliment technical training of dance and musical theatre subjects. We perform an annual Summer Show for first and second years. Third years take on a whole season of performances, including full length musicals, a themed dance show called LINK, and a Graduate Review, which is specifically designed for agents and casting directors."
How did this video go so viral?
Hack: "I often film my students in rehearsals primarily for them to watch at the next rehearsal to help fix mistakes and clean the piece. For some reason, I decided to post this open rehearsal video that is currently at four million views on Facebook. I have never done this before and it went crazy! Epic!"