GQ2015 [GABBY] dances into the Unexpected

GQ2015 [GABBY] dances into the Unexpected

Roppongi’s EX Theater witnesses an artistic experiment


[Photo by PAK OK SUN (CUBE)]

When you think of dance, you probably think of a specific style. The structured formality of ballet, the flowing interpretive spirit of contemporary, or the sizzling sensuality of salsa. There are many genres, each with their own well-established characteristics. But what happens when you combine them all? Throw popping, jumping, and jazz together and what do you get?

“Expecting something is going to be dangerous,” warns Joey Beni, one of the dancers taking part in GQ2015 [GABBY], a unique show coming to Ex Theatre Roppongi in June.

Joey Beni (Freestyle &  Hip-Hop)
Joey Beni (Freestyle &
[Photo by PAK OK SUN (CUBE)]

First produced in 2011 as simply GQ, or Gentleman Quality, this unique show brings together 17 male dancers from around the world, hailing from diverse genres, to tell a story through motion. Dance is the engine that powers the creative, but the result transcends our presuppositions.

“I’d say the biggest part is that it’s not a dance show—it’s a legit musical,” explains Beni, who has worked with many big names on stage and on screen, including Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott. “It doesn’t have any singing, doesn’t have any words. There’s no acting. But dancing is another way of expression, so we want to tell the audience the story with our bodies.”

Also taking part in this show for the first time is Aris, a member of the renowned Quest Crew hip-hop dance group in Los Angeles, who won the third season of the TV show America’s Best Dance Crew. For Aris, this will be his first time in Japan; and it’s something he’s very excited about.

“All throughout my professional dance life, I’ve always been with Quest Crew. So when I was asked to be part of this show by myself, I took it as a new open door. This is going to be my first time doing a big dance gig without the rest of the Quest members.”

Bringing a classical background to GABBY is Shingo Yoshimoto, who studied at the Paris Opera Ballet School at the young age of 15. At 18 he received the gold medal at the Varuna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria, and then went on to perform professionally in the United States with the San Jose and Houston ballet companies for the next nine years.

Aris (Quest Crew) (Breakin' & Hip-Hop)
Aris (Quest Crew) (Breakin’ & Hip-Hop)
[Photo by PAK OK SUN (CUBE)]

One of the things that is the most exciting for Yoshimoto is the way the mixture of each dancer’s style generates something unpredictable.

“Ballet is a very square thing, everything is all set up. But this is … you never know—even me, even the audience—never know what is going to happen next.”

Which leads to the question: Is there an element of improvisation to GABBY?

“It’s hard to say because, it is choreographed, but the director doesn’t know everyone’s dance style,” Yoshimoto explains. “So he just tells us ‘this is how you’re feeling, this is how you guys react … but how would you do it?’ Most of the movements are just the individual’s freestyle. It just naturally comes out of that emotion, of what you’re feeling right now … at that moment.”

What we’ll see when this eclectic group of dancers takes the stage at Ex Theatre Roppongi on June 10 is uncertain. But what Beni says is for certain is the purity and the energy we’ll feel. “This is all emotion. This comes straight from the heart,” he declares. Yoshimoto adds, “Everyone can enjoy. It doesn’t matter how old you are, just come see it. You’ll definitely enjoy it. I promise!”

After the performances in Tokyo, GQ2015 [GABBY] will travel to Fukuoka and Osaka. And from what Joey, Aris, and Shingo have told us, each performance may be a one-of-a-kind experience.

GQ2015 [GABBY] June 10-12 at 7pm, June 13 at 2pm & 7pm, June 14 at 2pm. Tickets ¥8,000-¥12,000. Ex Theatre Roppongi. Nearest station: Roppongi.
For tickets call 03-5778-3431, fax 03-5778-3432, or e-mail For Fukuoka and Osaka dates and times visit