Remember the 'hand dancers' from Britain's Got Talent 2011? Simon Cowell didn't get it but a better accolade to take away from talent show TV we can't imagine.
Up & Over It are literally up and over it, and about to bring their electro pop, multimedia, mash-up, dance, cabaret, comedy show to London Wonderground. We asked them a few question as they prepare to tap their tits off in the spiegeltent.
Did your brush with Simon Cowell provoke a change of direction in your work?
S: We’ve always been a bit dark, ever since we started making videos back in 2008 and with our solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009. Our cabaret performances have always been twisted too, performing at the likes of The Box, Crazy Horse, Boom Boom Club, La Soiree and Duckie. In 2010 we decided that we wanted to go viral, so we cleaned up our act and made We No Speak Americano, the antithesis to Flately’s Vegas style influence on Irish dance. After we went viral, we said yes to everything for a year; we filmed a few commercials and talk shows in the US. Britain’s Got Talent bugged us for six months until we said yes.
P: We just wanted to reach a new audience and then hit them with the odd stuff. Our hearts have always been a bit black so it’s good that people are seeing that side of us too. Simon Cowell had no influence whatsoever on our careers, but our advice to anyone thinking of doing BGT, is to say no. They made us change our music (too ‘Shoreditch’) change our costumes (too ‘Dalston’) and told us that if we didn’t, we’d get slagged off. Not nice, but we came off lightly compared to others.
What's a bigger influence: Ireland or east London?
S: We were both Irish dance champions and lead performers in Riverdance for many years so without that heritage and influence, we wouldn’t be in a position to subvert it. However, it wasn’t until we moved to east London and met Jonny Reed (the third person in Up & Over It) that we saw a potential in what we had discarded as twee.
P: We wanted to make our friends and peers appreciate Irish dance, make it relevant for them and not just their nans. We’re inspired by a whole range of people living and working in east London. Our work questions what it means to be Irish in a modern society, fighting a stereotype of the happy little drunk leprechaun.
What can we expect from your solo show? And how will you stop Bourgeois & Maurice from hogging the limelight?
P: Our show is about changing people’s perception of Irishness and Irish dance; that it can be fun, engaging, relevant and entertaining, but it’s also about identity in general. There’s character comedy, contemporary dance, good old fashion tap dance, some mad skipping skills and of course a bit of hand dancing. It’s all set to an electro-pop sound track and videos from Jonny.
S: We’ve got The Breakfast Club on stage with us busting some moves and of course, as you mentioned, Bourgeois & Maurice. Bourgeois is fine to work with, it’s Maurice you have watch out for, she cuts porn into the videos and is a total klepto’ backstage.
If you could perform your show anywhere in London, where would you choose?
S: We performed at Hackney Empire in March 2011 at an alternative St Patrick’s Day ‘After Party’. It was amazing to perform in such a historic venue on our doorstep.
It would be great to take our show to Sadler’s Wells and see it next to other dance productions. We want to show that Irish dance can be relevant. The skill involved takes years to perfect and deserves to be looked at.
Can you teach us to do what you do?
P: We teach our style of Irish dance in Pineapple every Tuesday at 8pm if you fancy it! It’s tough but fun and be prepared to sweat.
Do you ever wish you were in Prodijig?
S: Haha – erm no. We know a lot of the guys in Prodijig, we gave some of them their first professional jobs when we were artistic directors of Magic of the Dance (a Riverdance spin off). What they do is great, but we prefer to comment and subvert Irish dance, bringing in humour and being a bit quirky.
P: We don’t just Irish dance to pop music. If you think of them as the Diversity/Flawless arm of Irish dance, then we’d be the Pina Bauch/Morcambe and Wise leg. There’s room for us all.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
P: No, but I was once sick on a new pair of suede shoes on the N55. They were cream.