NEIL Ieremia's latest production in collaboration with Black Grace UrbanYOUTHMovement opened Auckland Festival's 2011 dance programme last night in fine style, combining exuberant, disciplined high energy, technically demanding full-out dancing with in-your-face social commentary.

Who ... Who ... Who Are You ? is the refrain that threads through the work. No direct answers appear to be given.

Words aside, on the basis of the performance delivered with individual flair by the youthful ensemble, they're undeniably fast, fit, talented, tireless, disciplined, self-motivated, committed, and driven dancers who want to create a future which is not plagued by the issues raised in this performance.

Who Are You? is somewhat darker and more hard hitting than earlier UYM productions, closer to the bone.

Some of the content is utterly literal - chilling examples factually narrated about 14 and 15 year olds involved in rape and other sexual activities way beyond their emotional maturity.

Some is presented in a show-and-tell combo - we are told that fighting has become a socially desirable activity among New Zealand teenage girls in particular, and we see social factions facing off, the rapid escalation of antagonism from name calling and general bitchiness to pushing and shoving and hairpulling to full body tackles and out and out brawling.

But the most compelling content is wordless and bathos-filled when the dancing follows an arc from a quiet party with a few drinks, to the variously disposed inebriated partiers, to alcohol-fuelled drivers and passengers who end up as bodies scattered across the stage.

The coda that follows feels very much anti-climactic.

BLACK GRACE
What: Who Are You?

Where: Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre.

When: Until Saturday.