Hungry Sharks: Béton Brut

13 May 2024
Béton Brut
The urban dance style of breakdancing - one of the pillars of hip hop culture - was created in the era of the development of Brutalist architecture. The excellent Salzburg company brings it to the theatre stage with virtuoso ease and witty commentary on its connection to the revolutionary architectural style. The performance, in which a concrete mixer plays a key role, is also a prelude to this year's SEFO Triennial. The performance is followed by a discussion in English, moderated by SEFO Triennial curator Martina Mertová.

BÉTON BRUT ingeniously intersects the world of architecture and urban dance. Through the body and dance, it looks at the related social and material backgrounds of its creation and the historical connections between concrete brutalist architecture and the pillar of hip hop culture – breakdance.

“Brutalist buildings […] were, for us, as they probably were for many others, unusually designed concrete monsters. From our surroundings, we subconsciously learned to consider this type of architecture strange or even ugly. However, […] when we put aside our ‘everyday filter’ and became neutral observers, we discovered the diverse universe behind it: powerful architectural and social statements as well as harsh, brutal and futuristic forms as a gigantic play of mass, rawness, balance and proud gesture, which is explained to the observer in a straightforward, almost purist manner and unfolds in beautiful images.” Valentin Alfery, choreographer BÉTON BRUT

In their latest project so far, BÉTON BRUT, the young art collective Hungry Sharks juxtaposes breakdancing techniques with selected examples of Brutalist architectural objects. In doing so, they create an associative field for reflection on their material, kinetic, spatial and, last but not least, historical and social conceptualisations. Both are a rebellion against conventional forms of culture. Their aesthetics are often characterized as “raw” or “rough”, by no means “slick” or “pleasing”. At the same time, both brutalism and breakdancing come from a similar social background – the experience of World War II, the destruction of man, poverty and the resulting social disadvantage. The intersection of these two forms subsequently becomes the driving force behind the unique brutalist physical theatre in BÉTON BRUT.

The sophisticated artistic concept and novel creative strategies contained in BÉTON BRUT not only earned unprecedented interest from the audience, but also resonated significantly among the thirteen selected productions at the re-launched Choreographic Platform Austria 2023.

The Austrian dance group Hungry Sharks was founded in 2011 with the aim of establishing street dance styles also in the theatre environment. Since its inception, choreographer Valentin Alfery and producer Dušan Baltić have been the leading figures of the group. In the dance duet Gentle Way (2018), for example, Alfery came out of the rituals of martial arts, especially judo, which he had been practicing at the top level until his serious injury. In Zeitgeist (2019), he again situated the production underwater – without gravity and with bated breath, he let the “aquadancer*s” in a glass pool explore the possibilities of gestures and movements typical of city life.

Machine translated

PRODUCTION ASSISTANCE: Maira Darja Horvath, Laura Graciela Saiz, Max Rosenberger
LIGHT DESIGN: Valentin Alfery
COSTUMES: Kreineckers / Anna & Magdalena Kreinecker
PHOTOGRAPHS: Jelena Janković, Christine Miess, Kilian Kovacs (Cover)
EXECUTION AND MOTION RESEARCH: Elena Bartosch, Timo Bouter, Alexander Tesch, Maëva Abdelhafid

The production is supported by DANCE ON TOUR AUSTRIA, a joint project of Tanzquartier Wien and the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.

The performance is realized in cooperation with (and with the support of) the SEFO 2024 Triennial, organized by the Olomouc Museum of Art.