Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Memphis Jooker’ Lil Buck is Vail International Dance Festival favorite
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How do you describe Lil Buck in 300 words or less? That’s a challenge, so let’s get right to it and talk about the 2011 artist-in-residence who has stolen our hearts and exposed us to a whole new style of dance at the Vail International Dance Festival.
Memphis Jookin’ is Lil Buck’s specialty, but as we have seen during his many performances, he is extremely versatile, borrowing moves from many different genres of dance.
Even though Lil Buck does ballet moves, you won’t see him in ballet tights. In fact, when he was expanding his dancing skills back in Memphis, he had an opportunity to teach hip-hop and jookin’ to members of the New Ballet Ensemble in exchange for ballet lessons, but he told Katie Smythe, the artistic director, that he would do it on one condition, that he didn’t have to wear tights.
Lil Buck’s signature style includes jeans, either black or indigo denim, a T-shirt or button-down and shoes that look like they belong on a basketball court. How he is able to slide around on what look like hi-tops with a sole that wouldn’t even let you slip on a wet basketball court is beyond me. He maneuvers those shoes as if they were soft-soled leather loafers and can go en pointe at any time.
Despite his jeans and T-shirt attire, he has a fondness for fashion and recently was featured in a commercial for Rag & Bone and collaborated with Versace on a few styles of shoes and T-shirts. You can get a pair of these kicks for just under $1,100.
He has shared the stage with Yo Yo Ma, toured with Madonna, was featured in Cirque du Soliel’s “Michael Jackson ONE” and performed at TEDx Teen, but in addition to all of this, he is busy getting his own nonprofit off the ground.