In an interview on HOT 105 with Rodney Baltimore, co-founders Zedric Bembry and Apon Nichols, who is also the lighting design maestro for the show discussed the performance, sharing what the audience could expect stating that for this production he was tasked with “coordinating the lighting scheme…to provide more concert lighting along with dance special mood lighting to create different styles and schemes for the scenes…” (Nichols 2024). Bembry called the show “HIP Hop on Broadway” and I would certainly agree that this show has the potential. Bembry surmises that “Attack on Funk City” is an interdisciplinary production that is not just inclusive of “…the costumes and dance but the lights, some acrobatics and science fiction. We came up with [the theme] about superheroes. We partner with a plethora of superheroes to fight a band of villains who attempt to attack the citizens town that is known for the Super Bass. So, we have all the superheroes coming together with costume and everything to fight to get the bass back so we could do our block party” (Bembry 2024).
This production was certainly LIVE and IN COLOR. It was fast paced, high energy, and visually and aurally stimulating. The lighting design added to the architecture of the production, illuminating both the dancer’s technical prowess as well as the brilliant and true to form costumes which depicted some of our dearest Marvel Characters, like Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, The Riddler, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the Green Goblin. The costumes were designed by Bembry’s mother who is “a great costume designer” as well as Melissa George of “Random Star Couture.”
Choreographers Zedric Bembry, Taurean Devoe, Wendy Watson, Anthony Velasquez, Tawanna Hall and Alex Werble did that thang. We saw Bembry’s signature “Urban Funk” which is a fusion of African, ballet, hip hop, breaking, Miami bass/booty shaking, scrub the ground (and and and and!!). The dancers are versatile and technically proficient in each genre, and this is displayed in the dancers voracious funkdafied flow. We saw collective FUNK as well as individual FUNK. There was young FUNK and seasoned FUNK. Bembry showed us that he still gat it. In the middle of the show, he entered dressed in yellow/orange sweatshirt and matching camouflage pants to remind us who he is (Okayyyy!). He positioned himself center stage, assumed the position and released the beast. His hips thrusted and his torso undulated, shifting, and isolating. His feet shuffled and turned, rotating, travelling across the floor (circle slide). He took it to the hole!
I appreciated the women, Wonder Woman and Cat Woman, specifically holding space with divine power, agency, and sensuality. There was a woman in blue (let’s call her Avatar), bay bay….who is dis? She was killing it…lines, clarity, strength, fiyah! The production featured 10 scenes (that moved quickly with brief breaks) and The FINALE which featured some of the next generation LIVE IN COLOR dancers. They were awesome!
The production was great and it is something that should be workshopped to include touring schools and an educational piece that addresses certain themes. There should be a visual component like a collection of images of the dancesr to create a graphic novel that can be purchased. But most importantly, there should be some technical support in terms of an acting coach to push the performers to the next level because some to the lip syncing is not clear. This coaching will also assist in translating Bembry’s narrative so that it is clear(er) to the audience. Thank you for this FUNKY, FUNKDAFIED, FUNKALICIOS production.