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In Conversation with Deanne Kearney – Creator of Urban Myth at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

By Bailey Green

Deanne “Dee” Kearney studied ballet and contemporary for years but had never felt completely at home. When she discovered hip hop everything changed. “Hip hop very quickly became my whole life, and identity, as soon as I found it,” Kearney remembers. “It changed everything, even the way I look at things. I write on urban dance and I produce. Hip hop is such a lifestyle, and it’s an amazing, supportive culture.” Kearney teaches dance and is part of the Toronto B-Girl Movement, dedicated to bringing more women to the forefront of a largely male-dominated style.

Kearney set out to create Urban Myth with the goal of bringing popular styles to new audiences, “I completely fell in love [with hip hop], I wanted to show the world how amazing it is.” She chose the styles featured in the show (breaking, krump, house, waacking, to name a few) based on the current, standout styles in Toronto.

Urban Myth is a show geared towards an audience who may not be familiar with this genre. Each style is announced before the dance. When asked about the biggest difference between a theatre show as opposed to a battle, Kearney says, “The audiences are much quieter! You can take pictures and tweet. The performers love to hear the audience yell and respond so it can be odd for them to adjust to the different setting.”

Photo Credit: E.S.Cheah Photography

Photo Credit: E.S.Cheah Photography

Kearney brought in choreographers “at the top of their game” in each style and gave them free rein to create. All she asked was that they each find ways to challenge themselves to choreograph pieces with a story. No themes were given, but as the pieces took shape a variety of stories emerged. One piece, performed by Raoul “Jin” Wilke and The Moon Runners crew, is an apocalyptic future based on the film “I am Legend.” Another dance is 12 minute long krump piece, choreographed by Amadeus “Primal” Marquez, about domestic abuse choreographed. The choreographers worked with their own dancers from their crews and came together to create the opening number of the show.

The challenges of this show came from the volume of people on stage. With about 30 people involved plus Kearney’s own people, it was no small feat to organize everyone involved. “The most rewarding is just seeing the pieces, the whole cast was watching the show just entirely in awe of each other,” Kearney says. “Many of these dancers don’t do theatre shows. They just battle.”

Photo Credit: E.S.Cheah Photography

Photo Credit: E.S.Cheah Photography

When asked about her inspirations, Kearney shouts out her friend and collaborator Anthony “Illz” Put. Illz is a b-boy who travels the world to battle. “He has amazing movement qualities and is so easy to work with,” Kearney says. “He just doesn’t know how good he is yet.”

Urban Myth is a hard-hitting, intricate and visceral show. If you catch it this weekend, be sure to make some noise.

Urban Myth

Presented by BreakinGround as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival


Creator: Deanne Kearney
Choreographers: Amadeus “Primal” Marquez, Anthony “Illz” Put, Mariano “Glizzi” Abarca, Caroline “Lady C” Fraser, Caitlin “Caddy” Superville, Deanne “Dee” Kearney
Featuring: Dancers from Northbuck, Lions of Zion, Footnotes Dance, Ground Illusions, Twisted Ankles and The WaaquettesPresented by: BreakinGround


Krump. Breaking. Popping. Locking. House. Waacking. Bringing raw urban dance from the street to the stage, created by Canada’s top urban dancers and choreographers.

Where: Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst St)

January 17 09:00 PM  buy tickets

Tickets: $15.00




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