When Lebanon-born Vartan Bassil and his break dance team, Flying Steps, whirl about onstage, the laws of physics seem to have taken a break themselves. The Berlin-based formation has already won four world championship titles in break dance. As part of hip-hop culture, the dance style has long made its way from the streets to the world of the performing arts. With their project, Flying Bach, the Flying Steps have been performing to sold-out houses to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” since 2010, and they won an ECHO Klassik special award for it. Like many b-boys, as the break dancers call themselves, Vartan Bassil was self-taught when he co-founded Flying Steps in 1993. Now 36, the professional dancer still lives with his wife and daughter in Berlin, where the Flying Steps have run their own dance school since 2007.
Since their founding in 1993, the Flying Steps have become known far beyond Berlin. Vartan Bassil and his fellow dancers have won four world championships in breakdance. They worked with iron determination to fulfill their dream of turning professional.
Lebanon-born Vartan Bassil came with his family to Berlin in 1983 as a seven-year-old civil war refugee. He discovered his enthusiasm for dance as a young Michael Jackson fan. At thirteen he started to practice breakdancing with friends at a Berlin youth centre. Soon they were making their first appearances at hip-hop events. They began earning money in 1993 as dancers for music videos and at promotional events.
Vartan Bassil and the Flying Steps want to develop breakdance further, inventing new steps and choreography. They’re all self-taught, and since 2007 have been passing on their skills in their own dance academy in Berlin. Vartan Bassil now leaves the acrobatics to younger colleagues. At 36, he has a daughter and, as artistic director, he now concentrates on choreographing for the Flying Steps.
Guest in Talking Germany
Presenter Peter Craven talks with Vartan Bassil about b-boys, Bach, art and integration. The two discuss the unusual combination of breakdance and classical music in the Flying Bach project. In addition they talk about the 800th anniversary of Leipzig’s St. Thomas Choir and Germany’s policies on asylum and refugees.