Tyger B: A Top Philly Choreographer and Jack-Of-All-Trades
Having a conversation with Tyger B. is like looking at him through a kaleidoscope. Each new change in topic reveals a different experience, a different skill, or a different journey of his.
Tyger arrived at the café where we planned to meet, Ichiwa in hand. Ichiwa, his tiny pup, was the best-behaved chihuahua I’ve ever met. Instead of diving into dance, we talked about dogs for the first portion of our conversation. After volunteering through Operation Ava, Tyger actually became a dog trainer when he wasn’t dancing. How does a professional dancer have time to train dogs? I thought, and this was only the first taste of what a Jack-of-all-trades Tyger really is.
After sniffing my feet, Ichiwa settled in Tyger’s lap and we really began talking about dance. Tyger is currently a hip-hop teacher at Koresh in Philadelphia, but when I asked, “Is Tyger B. hip hop?” he explained that he’s known for different styles, in different circles, in different parts of the globe (yes, globe). He’s known best for hip-hop in Philadelphia, but if you saw his recent piece that he choreographed for Koresh’s “Come Together” showcase, you would have walked away with an appreciation for his more modern style. Turn the kaleidoscope one way, and you’ll see Tyger through the eyes of his Canadian dance community, who view him as a prominent Freestyle dancer. Turn it the other way, and you may see him as a fierce competitor in dance battles, the way the dance community in Paris sees him. In San Francisco? Catch him locking. Moscow? Dance Hall. Japan? House.
His styles change and blend and bleed together as he travels the world, and as he travels through different dance circles. I was fascinated when spoke about the interaction of different dance communities that he was simultaneously a part of. For instance, in the past, he experienced judgment insinuating that he “sold out” from fellow underground hip-hop dancers because of the fact that he formally studied dance (including jazz, ballet and contemporary) at University of the Arts. Promoting and managing an ever-changing image in different circles, and in different countries, is one of the biggest challenges of being a dancer, according to Tyger. Getting his image out there, even when he has to be “someone in one world, and someone different in another,” and making sure that his image isn’t tainted by others (in this age of social media) keeps him more than busy.
Busy? We’ve already seen him as a professional international dancer, dipping into different genres, and as a dog trainer, what else could he have time for? Well, when I asked whether he tends to fall in love with music first and then develop choreography, or if he creates choreography and then finds the right music (the dancer’s version of “chicken vs. egg”), he explained that when he choreographs a piece for a showcase, he actually prefers to compose the music himself. Seriously?! Seriously. He uses drums, guitar, piano, and out-of-the-box sounds, like the sound of his breathing, along with recording software to create a musical reflection of his choreography.
Well clearly there’s no more kaleidoscope left after dancer, world traveler, choreographer, teacher, musical composer and dog trainer. Wrong again, friend. Artist. Don’t believe me? His works presented on rawartists.org/tygerb prove it. Want more? He sometimes works as a model in photographic art featured alone and with other dancers.
Adding more to his calendar, Tyger has organized “MIZU,” an all-out art event for this upcoming weekend. Saturday night (November 8th), from 6:00-10:00, you can enjoy visual artists displaying their creativity, a live band setting the mood, and performances from dancers and martial artists (all for only $6, $5 for students, free for young children). The next day, the party continues. Sunday (November 9th), workshops kick off:
-1:30 pm Salsa Teacher John C. Howard VII *Bring a partner and receive a $10 cover instead of $20, totaling $30 for 2ppl -2:30 pm Vogue (Hand Performance) Teacher Justin Khan -3:30 pm Dancehall Teacher Tyger-B -4:30 pm Vogue (Dramatics) Teacher Justin Khan $20 for a single class, $45 for 4 classes. Come with a group of 4ppl and 5th person enters for free 6pm Special DJ will be spinning genre of Vogue, House, Dancehall, and Salsa. $5 cover, all those who come to the weekend event will enter for free. After party will be at Fallout hosted by DjNiko Philly
Tyger B’s dance influences his art influences his music composition and so forth. So it goes with his choreography as well. Multiple genres of dance fade in and out of one single piece of choreography. For example, his piece for Koresh’s Come Together showcase, blended elements of modern dance, ballet, bachata, salsa and capoeira! When I asked Tyger how he creates pieces that so seamlessly tie together different styles of dance, he explained, “I study the movement in any style of dance, even if I don’t know the vocabulary.” By tossing out conventional lines drawn between different genres, and focusing on movement, Tyger highlights the similarities and relationships between different genres.
This reflects the main thing that Tyger believes sets him apart from other dancers; his risk-taking. He is not afraid to play with different types of dance or movement or music and marry them all together. He’s not afraid to push his body to new limits either; if you’ve ever seen him battle you might catch him do a flip he’s never actually practiced before, but felt its energy in the moment and went for it. It’s this raw dedication and fearlessness that makes audiences believe him when he dances.
In speaking to Tyger, I thought about how the way I dance must reflect exactly who I am for it to be true; for it to be believable. The way you dance must reflect exactly who you are for it to be true. Of course we need to expose ourselves to new things in order to grow, and to challenge our bodies in new ways in order to evolve; but in its essence, dance is not something to be forced, but felt. We are dancers… and some of us are poets too, and engineers, and firemen, and teachers, and singers, and chefs, and architects, and doctors, and photographers. We’re all dancing jacks-and-janes-of-all-trades in some way or another. Let who we are and our unique experiences influence our dance so that we keep breathing new life into choreography and into our movement.
My very first question for Tyger was, “In exactly five words, tell me why you dance.” But Tyger, who does not rush creativity, or force what should come naturally, did not answer that question until the very end of the interview. When he was finally ready to answer, he said, “my ability to inspire humans.” I counted on my fingers, and it was indeed exactly five words.
Article written by Hannah Lorenzo.
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