Stage lights dim and a video screens flickers to life. Images of an old-school style computer game appear before the curious, expectant audience. Drum beats roll through the theatre as international beatbox star Beau Monga loops his iconic rhythm and two energetic break dancers flip onto the stage. Amidst the whistles, claps and cheers, a toddler swamped by his oversized 360 ALLSTARS t-shirt, bounces on the knee of his pregnant mum, proudly calling ‘That’s my daddy.’
Breakdance artist Bboy (Peter) Sette is one of the seven stars cast in this vibrant show. Featuring a BMX Flatlander, Basketball Freestyler, Roue Cyr artist, Sette’s partner-in-crime, Bboy Leerok, and a Beatboxer / Loop musician as MC, these international masters have come together to perform in this entertaining ‘urban street circus’. A long-time dream of Creative Director and Percussionist, Gene Peterson, the show has toured Australia and internationally for the past six years, wowing audiences and inspiring a new generation of performers to do what they love.
Speaking to Peterson and Sette following the first of their Australia-wide ‘hundred shows in a hundred and fourteen days’, Peterson explains:
Essentially, 360 ALLSTARS is a new age hip hop circus. We replace the stereotypical circus art forms with contemporary street forms. Instead of acrobats, we have break dancers, instead of a juggler, we have a basketball freestyler, instead of a unicycle, we added the twist of a BMX flatlander.
Rowan, our Roue Cyr artist stands out. It’s more of a traditional circus art form, but it links us all together and ties us to the circus history. It’s a nice touch… we’re all urban, hip hop, street, then he comes in with a contemporary take on a traditional circus art. It works.
Peterson is living his childhood dream. Since he created the first 360 ALLSTARS in 2013, he has ‘traveled the world playing music and working with cool artists’. This year, the show has three new cast members. While the basic concept remains the same, both Peterson and Sette are enjoying the different dynamic amongst the team.
There is new content from the solos.’ Peterson says, ‘On stage, we collaborate and interact all the time. With three new people comes three new skill sets; we have taken the time to revisit the show and level-up new skills and tricks. While it is not an entirely new production, there is a new energy and lots to come and see.’
The Allstars on tour are a force to be reckoned with. At any time, they are likely to break into an impromptu jam session, enjoying the flow of creativity that constantly zings between the performers. Peterson loves being on the road, regardless of their hectic schedule.
Inevitably when you spend 24 hours a day together as a group, you become a family by default. It is a really beautiful thing because, over the course of a couple of months, you suddenly have a new family—and we’re all getting to do what we love together.
Sette finds touring ‘awesome’, but challenging, because he has a pregnant wife and young son based in Melbourne. ‘The crew are a really fun bunch of guys to hang out with. But I do miss my family. The longest I am ever away is a month, but they visit me when they can, so it’s not too bad.’
For Sette, the difficulties are offset by the unique opportunity to do something he is passionate about.
The thing I love about this show is, for once, I am being me, Bboy Sette, breaking, doing my art form. I am being introduced as my name, I’m not playing a character. I’ve done musicals, kids shows, dance shows and, while I do love them, it is nice and refreshing to just do me.
Peterson agrees, ‘I certainly don’t have to drag myself to work. I love playing the drums, that’s my thing, and I get to do this behind world champions, watching all the other cool art forms that I can’t do.’
The show transcends cultures and language barriers. During the past six years, they have enjoyed a ‘plethora of experiences’ as the team have visited 70 countries throughout the world. ‘The beauty is that we are having fun with each other on stage,’ says Peterson, ‘it’s really contagious.’ Sette laughs, ‘It’s got everything— physical performance, cool music that is funky, uplifting and original, plus dance and circus tricks. It is one thing after another…. if you come to this show, you don’t really know what to expect.’
Inspired by a childhood visit to a Cirque du Soleil show, Peterson knew exactly what he wanted to achieve as Creative Director.
Conceptually, the show came together over two years. I wondered how many different types of awesome I could get on one stage. Then I removed all the usual limits to not dream too big. I headhunted the best artists in the world and tracked them down, one by one. The actual rehearsal time took about three weeks because the show was entirely formed in my mind, I just needed the artist to inject their flavour, moves and style to make it happen.’
Peterson’s engaging smile shines, ‘It is so rewarding to look out into the audience and see a thousand people smiling and know you made that. You know, if you give someone a gift, just one person, then that’s rewarding. We get to multiply that by a thousand and it’s just the best feeling. We love what we do, on stage and during workshops, inspiring the next generation, passing those skills on. Sharing what we are passionate about is a wonderful thing.’
For tour dates and locations, see www.onyx-productions.com/360allstars/
|Two-time World Champion BMX Flatlander
|World Champion Breakdancer
|Australian Breakdance Champion
|World Renowned Basketball Freestyler
|Roue Cyr Wheel
|Internationally Acclaimed Roue Cyr Artist
|MC & Beatboxer
|New Zealand’s ‘X Factor’ Winner
|Multi-Award Winning Master Musician
|Spectacular Lighting Design
|Stunning AV Projections