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Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project


Raphael Xavier 23
RAPHSTRAVAGANZA: A Kinetic Cirque Experience
Saturday, September 10th 2016, 12:00pm to 7:00pm
Center Courtyard of City Hall
1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard,
Philadelphia, PA 19107

FREE Admission, but you must Get A Ticket Here


Leading hip-hop artist and 2016 Guggenheim Fellow and 2013 Pew Fellow, Raphael Xavier will bring together masterful street performers that highlight extreme BMX riders, acrobatic contortionists, and live music for RAPHSTRAVAGANZA: A Kinetic Experience, a free, open to the public, contemporary circus-style performance in City Hall’s courtyard. Original compositions by Jazz saxophonist, composer, and 1996 Pew Fellow, Bobby Zankel will act as musical narration for the urban styles that Xavier says “profoundly influenced my life during childhood and have shaped the artist I am today.”


Performers include Bill Shannon, known as Crutch Master who has choreographed for Cirque Du Soleil; Lamonte ‘Tales’ Goode, CYBER Yoga pioneer and hip-hop acrobat and contortionist; and top professional BMX Flatland pioneer Pete Brandt, who single handedly change the direction of the sport and additional recognized street performers from Philadelphia. A set of four, 30-minute choreographed performances will be structured throughout the courtyard space and will pay tribute to the soul of the city, inviting discovery of urban street dance and movement.


PJP spoke with Raphael Xavier about his work and this new project.

PJP: Can you briefly describe your artistic direction?


Raphael Xavier: My artistic direction ventures into the exploration of movement-physically and mentally. The older I get the more curious I become about the continuation of breaking dancing on a maturing body. I listen to music differently, see things differently and approach things differently than I did when I was in my teens to young adult and now as a mature adult. It’s ultimately about progression and experience.


Raphael Xavier 444PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Raphael Xavier: I grew up with a family band that introduced me to the sound of music and the instruments that it came from. I noticed Rock music and R&B from The Police to Steely Dan and the Average White Band. Later, I realized that there were the same sound patterns and melody in both black and white music. Then, I came across Les McCann’s, "Compared To What" and the opening bassline and cowbell put me in a trance. A new sound presented itself. New ideas entered my space. Wasn’t interested in rap until I heard Rakim’s, "Check Out My Melody." Reminded me of Les McCann in a way. All that to say that I create with that instrumentation of baseline, drums and piano. In dance, the feet are the baseline-melodies/patterns, the heart is the beat-metronome and the body is the constantly changing instruments and I can take them anywhere I want.


PJP: What’s so important about this upcoming project?


Raphael Xavier: This project is important because all my 45 years has gone into the creation of the work. I would not be in a place to do this work if I didn’t have all the experience and interest, curiosity and influences through out my life. It’s a representation of what play looks like. It’s a representation of what exploration looks like and maturity looks like. But in the end, it’s important because the elements of the work come from the street and have gone around the world on major stages and will always get it’s strength and power from the street. The street performer is represented here. An homage to the street performers that often goes overlooked and frowned upon.

Raph 010101

PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas, while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?


Raphael Xavier: The child side of me, which most of us lose at some point, keeps me on task. I haven’t forgotten that I like to play or how to play. The exploration of elements, the curiosity of ‘what’ and ‘what if’ are always there. I love sound. I grew up on sound. I hear all day even when I chose not to hea. It is absorbed in some strange way and goes into my work; music, da