Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sergio Mims: English National Opera's unlikely star revealed to be US street dancer

 Banks-Artiste, real name James Davis, stars as the Angel Gabriel in the English National Opera’s latest production. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

When the reviews for one of the year’s most keenly awaited new operas came in last weekend there was one recurring question: who was the dancer stealing the show as the Angel Gabriel?

Today it can be revealed that he is Banks-Artiste, 25, a street dancer from Brooklyn who until this month had never left the US, let alone appeared on a major opera stage.

Banks, whose real name is James Davis, did not even have a biography in the programme for English National Opera’s production of The Gospel According to the Other Mary – he became a Twitter enigma with audience members tweeting the question, who is he?

The Daily Telegraph critic Rupert Christianson wrote: “The outstanding performer of the evening is a marvellously expressive flex dancer, gnomically identified in the programme only as Banks”; the Independent said “he presented physical power and eloquence that was more than the equal of the singing”; and the Guardian’s Andrew Clements called him a remarkable dancer who “comes close to stealing the show”.

Banks is a krumper and flex dancer – forms of street dancing – and it is fair to say his CV is relatively short. He has danced for the rapper Lil’ Mama, done a photoshoot for Reebok, and auditioned for the US show So You Think You Can Dance.

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