VIRGIL DEY / DANCER
“I remember how I found breaking like it was yesterday. A friend of my brother's had learned to break in America, and back in Eindhoven, he took us to a shopping mall.That’s where I discovered the first real, local spot, and it blew my mind. I had no idea how vibrant the scene really was in my city; there were so many different people, all brought together in the name of a lifestyle...They don’t use that spot anymore, but I still get excited every time I walk by it.” From a crowded corner in a shopping mall to the magical setting of a deconsecrated church. Over the years, Virgil Dey's dance has progressed vertically, almost mystically, becoming a form of worship and introspection as well as a professional tool.
With the irreverent hip-hop spirit of every teenage movement, the growth of this Dutch performer has been imbued with anthropological meanings and tribal vibrations that distinguish his unique style. “My dance is based on more than two decades of study, but also, and maybe even more importantly, on what I would call ‘impulses.’ During freestyle, it’s like my body is guided by these inner feelings, as if I enter into an alternative state of mind where something deeper guides my movements. It feels like imprinting, like the signature of my roots: it is the African culture ingrained in me. It’s not purely physical, but it is inevitably reflected in my body, in the rough quality of my movements.”
African rhythms, house, popping, and breaking are inspired chapters of a choreographic artform that Virgil flips through, tracing every note in search of a fluid platform of personal expression, an overwhelming, melodic trail that carries him back to himself and the members of his award-winning crew, The Ruggeds. “The crew is a beautiful microcosm.Through dance and the relationship with my companions, I’m constantly learning new things, filling my gaps, and moving forward, first as a human being and then as a performer.The combination of our skills and knowledge always takes us to unexpected places. In the crew, everything adds up, and everything gets shared.”
In the eyes of this dancer from Eindhoven, sharing is not limited to that small world called The Ruggeds. It is open to the new generations of B-boys who, through footwork and freeze, find not only the visual tags of American subculture but also the ingredients for a future Olympic sport. “It’s about coming together and being inspiring. Breaking has kept so many of us off the streets, off drugs, out of danger. We want to do the same with the younger generations, so the doors of our ‘church’ are always open. Local institutions have been supporting us, and it’s let us make this wonderful place our own. We’ve introduced a different kind of worship: dance. Kids come in to check us out, to see what we’re up to in here. Breaking could become an Olympic sport at Paris 2024, and we want to use that to breathe new life into our movement, to evolve it even further.” Virgil’s evolution, however, goes beyond the ‘battles’ he’ll continue to fight on major world stages. He’s focusing on the spiritual and primal side of the relationship with one’s body, with one’s dance. A journey back to your roots, split between theoretical form and practical action, where Virgil strives to be explorer and shaman, student and anthropologist. It’s a search for answers that can’t be found in Eindhoven. “I’m planning an African tour. On that continent, I want to uncover the deep, spiritual aspects tied to music and dance; I’d like to understand their relevance in defining human relationships, explore their functions within tribes, and learn about their healing properties. I’m certain this process will help me reach a new state, a new level of individual maturity.”