Culture Résidences Published on 17.06.2022

Interview with Dan Tanson

Conversation with the stage director of Nikki Ninja & Afrobeathoven

Who are you?

I’m Dan Tanson, I’m a producer, performer, and director, mainly of musical theater for children. I specialize in combining different formats, such as live music with narrative theater or modern puppet theater. I am always looking for new ideas. Here it is about the marriage of hip hop and jazz in a show for children

How did the project Nikki Ninja & Afrobeathoven come about?

During the pandemic, Neimënster contacted me about a residency. I liked the idea right away, especially since the result was not imposed on me. It was a question of imagining a format that would suit the Jazz for Kids series. I quickly decided to collaborate with a hip-hop musician to analyze the impact of the flow on the narration. neimënster then made the link with Nicole Bausch (aka Nicool) and we were able to get to know each other, without any pressure, to test what is hip-hop, how to write rap, how to create a flow

I started writing while discovering things like how to rap a story. You realize pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t. Then came the idea of developing a project with texts for children. At the same time, we met Pol Belardi, another artist in residence at neimënster, and we immediately got along well. And this is how the project was born.

How did the residency go? How did the work in neimënster inspire you?

The great thing is that you have a place and also the freedom to create, without any obligation of results. neimënster brought us together under the motto “Meet each other, we think you have a lot to share and that you will get along artistically, if not, too bad”. So we met several times, several days in a row, to get to know each other and exchange ideas. And we were indeed able to discover so many things.

Nicole introduced me to Dennis Scholtes (…), with whom I learned to compose a beat. It’s also a childhood dream that came true, I always wanted to do this since I discovered hip-hop at 18. In return, I invited Nicole to discover my work. All this without constraint, which also means doubting, not knowing where you’re going. And then, all of a sudden, something is born from the union of creative minds

What makes the show unique? Why should you come and see it?

First of all, hip-hop for kids doesn’t really exist in Luxembourg. However, the Luxembourg rap scene is interesting and varied. We also looked abroad: In Germany we found only four projects, while there was nothing in the French-speaking area, so it was a leap into the unknown. We couldn’t rely on examples, but we had a lot of fun creating texts, writing music, and developing the show

I think that for kids whose parents already listen to hip-hop at home or who listen to it themselves, this show, which follows the same aesthetic, will be a real party. We invented characters who live stories. Nicole Bausch has proposed cheerful but also critical lyrics as it is the case in hip-hop, that we describe social states, how children feel, etc. It is also about speed, the desire to party and to do stupid things… In two ballads she talks about happiness or how to explain the world to an alien. There is depth and it is at the same time a great party

A final word?

We hope to see you at Nikki Ninja & Afrobeathoven’s concerts. See you soon, ciao!

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