Proctors hosts mixed dish 4-ISH dance/action sports group

Proctors has been looking for a show that would appeal to a younger demographic, maybe bring some people to the theater for the first time.

Kathy Jarvis, Proctors marketing director, thinks 4ISH is that show.

"4ISH" is a mix of break dancing, hip-hop, extreme sports, inline skating and video clips put on by a multi-cultural ensemble from Holland called ISH. It will take the Mainstage at Proctors on Friday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m.

"It's different, and that's exactly the reason that we brought it," Jarvis said. "We're trying to cultivate the next generation. We rarely have the opportunity to bring a show like this to the marketplace here."

Of course, describing such a show to that next generation is no easy task. It's not a traditional play, musical or concert. Jarvis compared it to when the show "Stomp" was first gaining popularity.

"People are making rhythm with cigarette lighters, making rhythm with trash cans?" she said. "It's tough to explain. That's the challenge that we have. Certainly in our ads we are saying, 'What is 4ISH?' It's not quite theater; it's not quite sports. It's dancing and hip-hop and skating. It's beat box."

Marco Gerris, who founded ISH in 1999 when he was 23 years old, offered his own take on the show in an e-mail that he squeezed in between stops on the group's U.S. tour, which kicked off Jan. 28 in Cleveland.

"It's a very energetic show, with a lot of everything," Gerris wrote. "It's a group of friends who show the audience our lifestyle with a lot of humor, but also a lot of talent. We show that the street skills can be art, too."

Gerris was one of the youngest theatrical producers in the Netherlands when he put ISH together. The name was derived from the suffix "ish," which has no specific definition, not unlike the mash of disciplines ISH's performances showcase. Gerris came up with the idea for the show when he realized street skills had never really been seen in the theater. Gerris' background includes acting and competing on the freestyle dance/skate circuit, and he filled the roster of "4ISH" with similarly skilled performers.

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