America's Got Talent: Fighting Gravity
The original group was formed in early 2009 to compete for an annual university wide philanthropy talent show competition called Anchor Splash. The show was held in order to benefit an organization called “Service for Sight” which catered to visually impared people in the community. These frat boys from Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Virginia Tech, prove that America's Got Talent as they have struck an artistically unique balance between several performing arts: narrative dance, black light dance and the most obscure to Americans, Buranku or Japanese puppetry. For more fighting gravity links including video of their performances, and how they do it, scroll down, otherwise, keep reading.
Narrative dance is a pretty simple concept, basically telling a story through dance without the use of words. Ballet is probably the most easily recognized form. Many people don’t know that hula dancing actually is a form of narrative dance. Then again, most guys have a hard time keeping their eyes on the girl’s hands to begin with. The dancers use their hands to tell a story in a Polynesian version of sign language. Throughout Southeast Asia, the narrative dance is fairly common as a way for indigenous people to preserve their cultures with dances such as the tinikling dance on the Philippines telling the story of the tinikling bird that constantly evades traps set by farmers trying to protect their crops.
Black light dancing has been a bit of craze in the states and in the more technologically advanced countries. Most people are at least a little familiar with the use of black light by Blue Man Group. It basically involves a dancer or dancers wearing bright or otherwise fluorescent colors and dancing various styles such as hip-hop and techno with embellishments such as glow sticks or fluorescent body paint.
If you like dance, you may be interested in checking this out
How'd they do that?
Ok the most fascinating part of Fighting Gravity is the art of bunraku. Most people how know anything about Japanese theater are more familiar with kabuki. I was first exposed to bunraku when I lived in Japan some years ago. It’s really fascinating art wherein the puppet master can spend 40 years training and preparing to become the sensei, a term not just reserved for martial arts as it literally means “one who has gone before.” Often times, the entry level gakusei or student will spend his first ten years just learning to move the puppets feet. Each puppet on stage is controlled by a team of puppeteers. The puppeteers, all clad in black are accepted as not being part of the story are a simply ignored by the audience.
Fighting Gravity raises the standards as they increase their cohesion and showmenship wowing audiences yet again. Thier next showing will be in the America's Got Talent Semi-finals.
See below for their performances to date.
NOTE: In the last one, the act actually starts at 1:55 into the video in case you just can't wait.