Maria Daniel Choreographs “Hip Hopera”

Scotch Plains resident Maria Daniel took on the unique opportunity to choreograph Hip Hop dances for a live opera that premiered in Charlottesville, VA on October 28.
The opera is an American Premiere of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Sympathy and featured an international cast of singers, musicians and Daniel’s Hip Hop choreography.
This unique fusion of Hip Hop dance and live opera/orchestra is called a “Hip Hopera.” Daniel’s daughter, 10th grade student at Scotch Plains Fanwood High School Niara Daniel is serving as Assistant Choreographer. The two travel together on weekends to Charlottesville to oversee the dancers. Scotch Plains Fanwood High School 9th grader Valdon Daniel III will be a featured dancer in the Hip Hopera.
An attorney, a professor and a dance educator, Maria Daniel mentors and trains youth Dance Ambassadors in both Scotch Plains and in Central Virginia.
About the Production:
Conducted by one of America’s foremost performers of early music, Christine Brandes, and directed by VHO’s Artistic DIrector Miriam Gordon-Stewart, Sympathy tells the story of two lovers whose relationship is put to the test. Our characters turn to self-help gurus, to best-selling theories and to public protest to try and stay together. But will they find their bliss?
In this reimagining of a Baroque masterpiece, never before performed in the United States, Victory Hall Opera continues its trademark theatrical exploration by pairing opera with hiphop dance in a contemporary mashup. In collaboration with Resident Ensemble “Early Music Access Project” led by Charlottesville’s David McCormick (formerly of Three Notch’d Road), and hiphop choreographer Maria Daniel, VHO will showcase the beauty of Baroque music in an innovative and thought-provoking way.
Joining VHO for this production are internationally-admired artists Rachelle Durkin (Soprano) as Céphise and Ted Schmitz (Tenor) as Acante, with Jorelle Williams (Baritone) as Le Génie. Also starring VHO’s Brenda Patterson (Mezzo-soprano) as The Grand Priestess.

(above) Cast of Hip Hopera.