Every Paris Fashion Week ends up being known for some fleeting, viral, something-or-other. This year it was Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson working the runway as their Zoolander characters. Most years it’s Cara Delevingne’s eyebrows, but every so often, if we’re lucky, one show transcends the years and becomes part of fashion and pop culture.
Of course this was, and still is, Team Vicious showcasing Rick Owens SS 2014 collection, cast, choreographed and co-directed by the multi-talented mother-daughter duo Lauretta Maloy and Leeanét Noble, and performed by 40 female steppers of all dress sizes and ethnicities – mainly African American.
After having done some research, it’s clear why this talented artist’s renown has skyrocketed since Team Vicious’ debut. Leeanét told us, she grew up going to her mother’s hip-hop dance troupe performances that opened for Queen Latifah, and Tupac during his Digital Underground days. She learnt piano from her grandmother and started tap dance at two.
She fell in love with stepping and hip-hop on the streets of Glenville, Cleveland, and as a teen danced for StepAfrika – the first professional company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping – fusing gumboot, tap dance, and stepping.
During her studies at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington D.C., Noble was cast in STOMP, and performed the lead female role.
Her choreography is inspired by great dancers of the past – Bob Fosse, Katherine Dunham, The Nicholas Brothers. She loves Zulu dancing, the kids in the Bronx who “get lite,” when people form a circle and clap a beat, taking turns dancing in the center –see kids getting lite in video below.
She’s inspired by the kids in Jersey who “go in” to club music, the kids in DC who “beat their feet” to go-go, and watching videos of her grandparents making up their own moves on the dance floor back in the day.
Right now however, Noble is still working on her fashion and dance fusions. After their debut with Owens, Team Vicious has done full concerts, special appearances, charity events and college tours. This past Fall, Noble, Malloy and a portion of Team Vicious opened the Fashion Institute of Technology’s exhibition Dance and Fashion, and lead a step workshop for members of FIT and the public, which they called “Stomp the runway” – we have been given the exclusive video of the performance at FIT.
During the event’s talk, Noble also spoke on African American dance and fashion in the 20th Century, emphasizing from hip-hop to stepping were influenced by rich experiences within the African American community, from the streets, to Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
We had the chance to ask a few more questions to find out what she’s up to these days and what she wants to do in the future.
GRIOT: Hi LeeAnét, what have you taken away from working with Team Vicious and Rick Owens, and how has it affected your life and work?
Leeanét Noble: I’ve taken away a lot from the show, and it was my first time leaving the country. My biggest take away from this experience was to never allow labels or preconceived notions keep you from your dreams. We all had very particular expectations from this show and most of them were drastically different from what actually happened. We were told the audience at Paris Fashion Week wouldn’t scream or cheer loud but we had cheers, screams, tears of joy and more. My mother has always had a love for designing and studied it in college. This experience has allowed her to have a platform to create her vision: proposing athletic wear for “real women”.
What’s next for Team Vicious?
There is a full concert “Team Vicious: The Experience” which has been performed around the US. The show takes you on a journey through percussive dance and our experience stepping into fashion. We are looking to bring the show to London in 2016 and are in talks with top theaters, and many other performance opportunities for other shows.
What projects do you personally have on the horizon? Any plans on returning to Europe? What about Rome?
I am working on a hot fusion with Flaunt magazine that we would like to present at Biennale this year in Venice. A production house just picked up a reality series I created that we are currently shopping! I was also recently featured in an educational online/DVD series for Disney Theatricals. I have put together a theatrical production fusing fashion and urban dance forms working with top fashion stylist Joshua Liebman that I would love to have brought to Europe and Rome!
Finally, what is your ultimate dream project? If you could do anything you wanted, crazy or out-there, what would would you do?
Whew weee what a question! My dream project is to have a film I wrote that takes dance to another level, pushing the envelope with a huge twist, get produced.
I would like to sign a record deal and record an album flexing my drumming, singing and rapping, collaborating with my mother, and becoming the first famous mother-daughter hip hop/R&B duo.
I would also like to gain enough sponsors and capital to continue to produce and create unique, entertaining, edgy and inspirational projects in television, film, fashion and theater around the world but that’s just the beginning. Nothing is off limits, especially now!
Here you can find more projects and interviews by Leeanét Noble.
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Alexa Combs Dieffenbach
Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, I am an art historian and art manager. After battling to save the Tevere River, I am currently developing culture and arts related academic programs in Rome. Dante Alighieri is my fellow alumni, enough said.