FUSE Artist Alliance as a group contains an effervescent energy that will make you want to embrace your inner superstar, even if you only sing in the shower. Since the Company’s first showcase in 2016, FUSE has morphed into a: Company, Non-Profit, LLC, and an overall entity that encapsulates and showcases Columbia’s creative talent while still offering all-inclusive and free dance classes for the community.
The individual members of FUSE are what makes this project truly unique as Publicist and Dancer Kassidy Krystek insights, “The thing about FUSE is that no one else in Columbia, and in nearby cities, is doing what we are doing. We have a unique composition of artists in a company that thrives off each other and collaborate to push their creativity. We bring a modernized and ever-evolving approach to what we do while keeping our foundations and basics of the classical and fine arts. We are the homegrown, non-profit type of group that is truly here for the art and the art alone. Every single person that is involved in this company is in it because they simply love what they do. They aren’t in it for the fame and the fortune. It’s that passion that drives the company and what makes our work stand out.”
With an assertion as powerful as such, I was delighted to have the opportunity to sit in on one of their rehearsal at the Columbia Music Festival Association building.
I was greeted by Dance Director and Choreographer Davon Bush and his cousin and FUSE COO Maurice Blakely and we discussed their showcase COLORS but both were eager to talk about FUSE Artist Alliance as a whole. Davon, a self-proclaimed krumper explained his journey to becoming involved with FUSE, “I started back early high school, Dancing was something I always wanted to do but I didn’t really think I could do it. My brother and my cousin right here (points over to Maurice) started coming around and showing me, this thing called Krump…I used to have my own dance team in high school we used to do pep rally shows. I ran into Mikey one day and he hit me up the next day and was like ‘Yo, you wanna be our choreographer? Come through and let’s work’ ever since then we’ve sorta just been taking off.”
Maurice, with round glasses, a clean shave, a sweet smile, and a hidden intensity described the shows conceptual standpoint, “I think the real key point…that we haven’t talked about is saturation. Colors can be bright, they can be dim and depending on how bright or dim that color is it can really affect the mood. Like bright green can mean serenity while dark green may evoke feeling hunted or daunted. Hues can change so much about what the color can mean.” Davon, grabbing at his torn black jeans explained COLORS in relation to his choreography and the shows dancing, “We used the concept of colors in regard to emotion. You’re gonna’ have some pieces that are sad and make you want to cry …you’re gonna’ have some pieces that make you happy, etc; It should represent a whole spectrum from mellow to really just coming to life.”
Creator and innovator Mikey entered the building confidently sporting a black wide-brimmed hat and a personality that filled the room immediately. He playfully explained his newly developed cold, trying to put me at ease on why he couldn’t shake my hand. While dropping his waist and spraying air disinfectant like he was on pest control duty the laughter erupted. Most would be surprised to find out Mikey found inspiration six years prior to FUSE’s first showcase, “What sparked the idea was Janelle Monáe with The Wondaland Art Society,” Mikey went on to explain attending her concert and learning that she had a whole “tribe” around her, “I went in there and I got to meet her guitarist, I told him about my dream of starting a community center and my other ideas and philosophies and he was like, ‘ Janelle Monáe would love to meet you.’ At the time I was going to the same school Monáe attended (AMDA-American Musical and Dramatic Academy) and we had the same teachers, I felt like I wasn’t necessarily on the same path as her but she provided the little bread crumbs leading me to where I needed to be, and now here we are.”
Walking into the actual rehearsal space I was curious about what was to come. The lights were out and all that was visible was the stage. I was struck immediately with Davon’s choreography which combined fluid contemporary with krump styled movements to slowly spoken lyrics, “I am flesh/bones/I am human”. The performance demonstrated each dancers’ personality and ability. The warmth of everyone surrounded me, after complimenting a dancer I was greeted with a big hug and the night was a sea of introductions.
The big hip-hop number that followed was led by Kelsey Edwards. Kelsey directed the girls with confidence and had the skills to back it up but I guess you must when your background track is “Sorry” by Beyoncé.
Another surprise was a jazzy cover of David Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World” with Zachary Dick on guitar and vocalist Frazier Bostic. Frazier took a song that is typically portrayed in and dark and dreary way, hence why it was covered by Nirvana, to a scating, hip swaying jive, it was surprising and impressive. Those leading the pack offer their talent as well, Mikey showing off his vocal ability and Davon bringing to light his krumping skills.
I left the rehearsal feeling truly inspired. I would put money on the fact that those who attend any of their various upcoming events will leave uplifted with a newfound spike in your creativity. -Tricia Callahan
What: Fuse Artist Alliance, Krump Class
Where: Columbia Music Festival Association, 914 Pulaski St.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 8:30 p.m.
Inquiries about joining, booking a performance or project, or miscellaneous activity can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org