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Hip-hop hoodies to represent British 'national identity' in Beijing Olympics


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Hip-hop hoodies to represent British 'national identity' in Beijing Olympics closing ceremony


By Tom Kelly

Last updated at 2:12 AM on 15th June 2008


Connoisseurs of political embarrassment might remember the toe-curling scenes as Tony Blair and the Queen grimaced their way through Auld Lang Syne in the Millennium Dome eight years ago.

But that’s nothing compared with what awaits Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson at the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony.

They will be ‘treated’ to a group of hoodies gyrating to hip-hop music – in a segment intended to celebrate our national identity.


article-1026343-00B4DC4400000578-993_468x375.jpg Identity: Performers from urban dance squad ZooNation, pictured in the West End musical Into The Woods, will feature in the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony


For the British political delegation, it will be a test of nerve – do they dare to stay stony-faced as Rap-on-zel, Jaxx and DJ Spinderella rap about life in an inner-city tower block?


Or do they attempt to muster some enthusiasm for the high-tempo show, and risk looking ridiculous?


Olympic protocol means that at the close of each Games, the next host city has eight minutes to put on a performance.

Organisers of the Sydney Olympics produced inflatable kangaroos on bicycles to mark the handover at the 1996 Atlanta Games, while the Greeks kept things traditional four years later by sending on Athenian women in historical garb.

Britain’s effort on August 24 will feature performers from ZooNation, an ‘urban dance squad’ acclaimed for a West End musical which features gangster rap and a drug-dealing pimp.

The choice has disappointed some commentators, who claim that hip-hop is inextricably associated with the U.S. and does not represent the UK.

Branding expert Peter York said: ‘The visual language belongs to America and it is something Britain has no particular purchase on.’

But supporters said the performance would reflect London’s vibrancy and diversity.


Alistair Spalding, director of Sadler’s Wells dance theatre, said the closing ceremony would include ‘humour and stories told with hiphop and street dance’.

He said: ‘It is a positive choice and reflects an aspect of London that people don’t often think about – a multicultural city with a vibrant youth culture.’

ZooNation’s show Into the Hoods is a hiphop interpretation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods, transposed to a modern-day tower block.

The plot revolves around DJ Spinderella, who loses a gold trainer at the hip-hop ball.

Earlier this year, Daily Mail critic Patrick Marmion hailed the show as one of the ‘liveliest, most exciting, youthful additions to the West End in many a year’ and declared the dancers deserved ‘big respect’.

Organisers for the London Olympics yesterday stressed that the hip-hop dancers would be only one part of the show.

They will be joined by performers from the Royal Ballet and CandoCo, a disabled dance company.

The cost for the segment, and a similar one held at the end of the Paralympic Games, will be up to £2million

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