Sunday, July 01, 2012

GRUBB: Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats

I don’t usually write about shows I see, but I feel like I really have to share about this one. Yesterday, I went to the Montreal Jazz Fest to see GRUBB (Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats) and it was simply amazing! There was something breathtaking, something heartbreaking about the show. You want to dance, you want to sing (even thought it isn’t in English, or French) and you even want to cry. The show even ends on the streets, as they all go outside to keep playing and singing! (Most of the info coming next are from the website (
 Because those who have no voice should be able to sing. 
Because education is the shortest route to emancipation.
Because art is a homeland for those who have none. 
Because there should be a dialogue between the Romany people and the rest of the world. 
Because it is high time that Romanies under twenty had the opportunity to tell us what they are and what they aren’t. 
Because indifference kills more people than all the bombs in the world.
Because it is no longer acceptable to act as if the segregation of Romanies does not exist.
Because it is no longer acceptable to act as if they do not exist. 
Because it is important to go beyond clichés and trite generalizations.
Because we are not always the Gypsies you would like us to be.
Because we have something to say to you and we invite you to hear it.
For all these reasons…
GRUBB (Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats) are a collective of young Roma (14-18) and international artists. They offer a modern approach to the traditional music of their Romani roots, adding dance, magic and photography to create an exceptional and unforgettable theatrical experience. Combining a musical blend of contemporary hip hop, dance and pop with the richly influenced and historic music already synonymous with their ancestors, GRUBB are bringing Roma music storming into the 21st century. The music, however, is only the backdrop to an immersive and moving story of their lives that varies from the universal themes of first loves and friendships to the struggles that are unique to the Romani people.

GRUBB has grown from music workshops created by RPOINT (an NGO working to give young Roma access to education) led by Serge Denoncourt. It is the first performance of it’s kind, performed by its creators, a group whose voices have never before been heard. The show features 25 performers including a brass band, rappers, dancers and singers. Their world is brought to life on stage through set, video and lighting created by internationally renowned artists.

RPOINT is a non-profit organization, founded and registered in the UK in 2006. We mainly work in Serbia with the Roma children and young people, by designing and implementing educational and artistic programmes. Our vision is that the young Roma further their education so that they get better access to mainstream jobs. By giving a voice to the Roma, RPOINT shows commitment to presenting a positive image of Roma youth today.
The show was simply amazing. Those teenagers (they are all between 14 and 18) were so talented, and it was so beautiful visually. Everything they use as props is made of cardboard. The show was their words, their message to the world. Just to say how amazing they are, the director of the show, Serge Denoncourt, a well-known director in Montreal, was invited to visited them in Serbia to give them a couple of advices, but he fell in love with those kids. This is why he decided to help them for free, to get some of his friends to help them too (like Nico Archambault, the first winner of So You Think You Can Dance Canada)

It was also impressing to see how everyone seem to fall for those kids, who have been hated in their native country (and in many other country) for simply being Roma. They even told us before the show that there were places were people bought tickets only to throw beer bottle to them on stage. Yet, here in Montreal, they were warmly welcomed. At the Jazz festival, all the money from the tickets, cds, t-shirts and all merchandise sales were used to help the Roms in Serbia. I think everyone who worked on the show did it for free.
Seriously, if you’re in Montreal, or you ever hear about GRUBB coming to your town, it is definitely worth seeing. The music is a mix of traditional Roma music, hip hop and rap. It was amazing. I mean, they got more than two standing ovations!

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